The Scientific Process

What is the 'Scientific Process'?

The scientific process is essentially a standarsized way of conducting research. Psychologists use this objective way of measurement of collecting data, making observations and interpreting results. 

The reason for this is to make sure the end conclusions are both reliable and valid, and then possibly eligable for the process of peer review and publication. 

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Hypothesis Testing

The process of trying to disprove the hypothesis is central. 

The entire focus is on trying to prove the oposite of what the hypothesis suggests, and therefore if that is accomplished the hypothesis is disproved and the researcher can carry on to test something different. 

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((If the research is carried out again at a later time, will the results be the same or similar?))

If so, then the research is replicable! 

Replicability is an important aspect of the scientific process because it suggests that there is a high level of consistency (reliability) and it means that people can be confidant that the results are valid (they test, and represent, what the researcher set of to test). 

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The results must not be influenced by the researcher (or anyone else). This could include biases (the researcher was expecting this result and so they changed the experiment, or results, to gain that outcome, for instance) 

High levels of objectivity increases cofidence in the work. 

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Empirical methods

An empirical method is one which takes an already existing, working hypothesis and tests it using observation and experiment. Empricial data is then produced. 

An empirical method allows psychologists to observe or measure some aspect of behaviour and and develop existing theories, or create new ones. 

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Deductive Reasoning


When employing empirical methods that allow psychologists to develop and tests hypotheses, they're engaging in the process of deductive reasoning. 

Is psychology a science? - We can use deductive reasoning to argue that it is because it's theories are testable when using a scientific method.

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Hypothetico-Deductive Method

1. THE HYPOTHESIS: the statement, based on the aims of the research, that will be tested

2. TEST HYPOTHESIS: appropriate methods of investigation are chosen that allow the researcher to test the hypothesis 

3a. DO NOT SUPPORT HYPOTHESIS: in the scenario, the results of the test are inconsistent with the hypothesis, and therefore do not allow the psychologists to support it. 

3b. SUPPORT HYPOTHESIS: If the results are consistent, however, then it can accepted and the psychologists can move onto the theory

4. THE THEORY: Findings of the research are allow the psychologists to form a new theory or modify an existing one. 

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Theory construction

A theory is formed by the process of hypothesis testing. 

A scientific theory must ultimately be testable and falsifiable. 

-Falsifiability? The researcher must be able to test the theory and develop ideas that can end in the rejection or development of the theory

A Theory that cannot be tested is not reliable (Think Frued's theory of the unconcious) 

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The generation of laws and principles

A scientific law or priniciple is a statement that describes the behaviour of things in the real world. 

If something is a law, it always happens. (Newton's first law).

A scientific law or principle can be thought of as a development of a scientific thoery. 

If a theory is tested enough, and there is enough evidence in it's favour, it can be developed into laws and principles. 

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Inductive Reasoning


If every observed case of something provides the same result, researchers can induce that the same will happen for all cases. 

Conclusions based on inductive reasoning are only ever generalisations based on limited evidence. Researchers can make inductive arguments more probable by adding evidence in their favour - or similarly, question it with contradictory evidence. 

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There is often more than one explanation for a hypothesis. One may be extremely complicated, and assumptions have to be extensively tested, while the other is relatively simple, with an assumption based firmly on what is already know. 

Despite the fact that both offer explanations of the hypothesis, the principle of parsimony states that the least complex version is the one that should be picked. 

This ensures that the explanation does not go beyond the available empirical evidence. 

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