A2 - Psychology - Advantages of the scientific method

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The scientific method is empirical

  • Empirical data comes from direct observation or experiment (rather than reasoned arguement or beliefs).
  • This provides evidence for thee truth of a theory or the benfits of a treatment (e.g. whether a drug reduces anxiety)
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The scientific method is objective

  • Emperical data is objective (is not affected by the expectations of the researcher). For example, the strict criteria used by Gardner and Gardner to judge whether Washoe had learned new words.
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The scientific method is falsifiable

  • We cannot prove a hypothesis correct but the scientific method allows a hypothesis to be tested by falisification, i.e. by rejecting a null hypothesis.
  • For example, Freud's theory of psychoanalysis is untestable because it is unfalsifiable, e.g. the idea 'all men have repressed homosexual behaviours' cannot be disproved - a man who seemed to contradict the view might just have very deeply repressed homosexual tendencies.
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The scientific method is controlled

  • In a lab experiment an independant variable is manipulated and the effect on a dependant variable observed. Possible extraneous variables are controlled (easiest in a lab) so causal relationships can be found.
  • For example, in an experiment we can be sure that the drug, rather any other variable, reduced anxiety.
  • Lab experiments are not the only research method used in the scientific method.
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The scientific method permits replication

  • Standardised procedures allow for replication and repeating a study helps to demonstrate validity.
  • For example, Milgram's study has been replicated.
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