Application of scientific methods


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Peer Review

  • Peer review is assessment of Scientific work  by experts in the same field. Prior to being published, psychological research is assessed int erms of quality, validity, significance and originality of the research. Peer review is intended to ensure research published is of a high quality.

Why so important?

Research is often used to shape social poilicies. Fraudulent reseearch can have negative impliations. Cyril Burt is an example. He published results based on studies of identical twins claiming that intelligence was inherited. Kamin accused Burt of inventing the data from suspicion of his correlations. Oliver gille later found Burt to be a fraud and he was later discredited. His research was used to shape public poilcies, it helped establish the eleven plus examinations used to identify brighter students who'd go on to grammar school. He argued it was appropriate to segregate children according to their abilities, on the basis that intelligence was genetic. The discovery of his fraudulent claims may have resulted in the shift away from grammar schools.

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Peer review evaluation


  • Anonymity usually practiced so reviewers are honest and objective. However may have paradoxical effects, if they use anonymity to settle old scores or bury rival research.

Preserving the status quo

  • Peer review usually results in a preference for research that goes with existing theory rather than dissenting or unconventional work ( in accordance with Kuhn's view of 'normal science' which supports the paradigm.) E.g Elaine Morgan's AAT goes aginst the Savannah model.
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The scientific process.(Karl Popper)

  • A good theory should be able to produce a testable hypothesis, which allows for falsification

Before the twentieth century Science largely used principles of the induction model- make an observation, hypothesise, test hypothesis, conclude , propose theory. Although rigorously empirical, the Deduction model, which places theory construction at the beginning has replaced it.

Karl Popper explains why. The deductive method involves starting with a theory and looking for instances that confirm it. The hypothetico-deductive model (Karl Popper) suggests theories should come first and be used to generate hypothesis, which can be falsified.

According to Popper falsifiability is key to the development of a theory. A theory can never be proved but can be disproved. If a researcher tries to disprove a theory and cannot then it is strengthened. If they can it should either be modified or replaced. This is how science progresses.

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Thomas Khun 'normal Science'

  • Thomas Khun coined the term 'normal Science', which refers to the idea that Scientists share a paradigm, and tend to agree with findings supportive of this paradigm and ignore those that contradict it. (e.g established paradigm is the savannah model, and AAT opposes it.)
  • A 'Scientific Revolution' occurs only if more contradictive evidence surfaces, which causes scientists to question the existing paradigm, until it is eventually replaced by the new one.
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