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Updated: Monday, April 12, 1999 10:50:00 AM

Intro to Psych Perspectives History & People
 Epistemology Bettelheim's Autism Scientific Method & Experiments
Experimental Termonology Neurotransmitters Neurotransmission
Anatomy of the Brain Split Brain Brain Imaging
Neural Plasticity Auditory System Visual System

Section 1: Experimental Termonology



Critical Thinking

Thinking that does not blindly accept arguments and conclusions

Control Variable

Factor that is held constant in an experiment, so that it is not allowed to vary.

Independent variable

Factor for which the researcher manipulates at least two levels in order to determine its effect on behavior (on experience).

Individual Difference Variable
  • Research Participates are selected into different groups based on a characteristic or trait that varies consistently across individuals
  • Also called a predictor variable, a subject variable, or a quasi-independent variable
  • Causation cannot easily be determined.
Dependent Variable
  • A measure of behavior (or experience) that is used to assess the effect (if any) of the independent variable or the relationship between itself (the dependent variable) and an individual difference variable.
  • Dependent variables that relate to individual difference variables are sometimes called ‘criterion variables’
  • Must beadle to change the dependant variable into a number
Operational Definition

the procedure whereby a construct is defined solely in terms of the operations used to produce and measure it

Random Sample

A sample that fairly represents a population because each member has an equal chance of inclusion in the sample

Random Selection

Every participant has an equal chance of being in the study as a whole.

Random Assignment

Every participant has an equal chance to be in the experimental (vs the control) aspect of the procedure.

Properties a Case Study

Single participant
Historical/ qualitative (often not reduced to numbers) analysis
Useful for generating hypotheses to be tested with further studies and experiments

Properties of a Correlation Study

Many participants
Operational definition
Descriptions statistics, quantitative data (means, medians, correlation coefficients)
Inferential statistics, the probability that the result of at least this size is due to change is calculated
Can determine a significant relationship, but NOT whether one variable CAUSES changes in another variable.

Properties of an Experiment

Many participants
Operational definitions
The independent variable is manipulated and alternative hypothesis are eliminated (often by using Random assignment to conditions)
Descriptive statistics
Inferential statistics
Can Determine if one variable causes changes in another variable.


(average) volume of participants voice measured in decibels by a sound meter over a 20 minute period while responding to a set of provocative questions EEG (electroencephalogram)


Measure of central tendency

Mean: 10,154,000/7 = 1,450,571.43 (average)
Median: 30,000 (midpoint of the distribution of scores after ordered from "high" to "low")
Mode: 12,000 (most frequently occurring score)





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