The purpose of the written assignment is to extend your scientific thinking about psychological issues, embrace the principles of scientific thinking, avoid the warning signs of pseudoscience and the use of common fallacies, and, appropriately connect specific research methods with specific research questions. In the first third of the course, we covered a number of fundamental ideas and practicalities as to how to create and answer scientific questions about human behaviour, brain, body and mind. Throughout the rest of the course, we will cover a number of different topics including
Sensation and Perception, Consciousness, Learning, Memory, and, Thinking.
For the assignment, we are asking you to do three things:
1) Using the materials from ONE of these topics (Sensation and Perception,
Consciousness, Learning, Memory, Thinking), think of a novel research question around a specific idea from this topic and discuss how you would go about testing it. For this you need to integrate specific materials from one of the later lectures that provide the rationale for the study, with the materials covered in Lecture 2 (Scientific Methods) and possibly Lecture 3 (Biological Basics), depending on what your question is.
2a) Write a press release that summarize the study you describe in 1). As well as discussing the background and methodology of the study, include a brief discussion of the data you might expect to be generated by your study and what the implications of the data might mean. However, the first version of your press release should be extremely unscientific. You should avoid as many principles of scientific thinking as possible and incorporate as many warning signs of pseudoscience and common fallacies as possible.
2b) You will then footnote your press release, identifying the parts that incorporate specific pseudoscience warning signs or fallacies and detailing (where appropriate) how you would re-write them to incorporate specific scientific principles.
For Sections 2a and 2b, you need to also review the materials covered in Lecture 1
(Psychology as a Science) regarding the principles of scientific thinking, the warning signs of pseudoscience and common fallacies.
For this section you should identify a topic that you find particularly interesting (pick from
Sensation and Perception, Consciousness, Learning, Memory, and, Thinking). Using specific background, observations and ideas from those materials, you should propose a research question that should further help our understanding of human behaviour. You should use the related book chapter and you can also use additional materials such as relevant journal articles to back up your ideas. Not only should the research question be based upon previous observations, it should also be designed using an appropriate scientific method.
When discussing how to scientifically test your idea, you should consider all aspects of your proposed study including the type of participants selected, the environments in which they will be tested, the way in which the study will be designed, what you will measure, how you will measure it, how you will control for alterative accounts of the data, and what you expect to find (i.e., the hypotheses that you are testing). Be explicit about all details of your proposed study.
This should not be written as a formal method section, but rather you should consider the following (and other) questions based on the materials in Lecture 2 when describing your study:
-What is your hypothesis and is it falsifiable?
-What kind of study will you carry out (e.g., experiment, correlation) and why?
-What is your population and how will you sample from it?
-How have you dealt with potential experimenter and expectancy effects?
-Do you need a control group or to implement blind testing?
-How will you rule out alternative explanations of the data?
-How have you operationalized your measurements?
-What ethical issues do you need to consider?