WJEC A2 Psychology PY3 - Advantages of the Scientific Method

Notes for the Advantages of the Use of the Scientific Method essay in Section C of PY3 exam


Scientific Method Advantage - Falsifiability

1. FALSIFIABILITY = it is impossible to prove a hypothesis correct as there is always the risk the results of a study occurred by chance. Therefore if a scientific method is falsifiable, it increases the predictive validity and allows a theory to be refined/rejected if predicted results do not materialise

(+) it is an advantage because: allows a researcher to set up circumstances where theories/hypotheses can be disproven. Therefore evidence can be presented to support or (more importantly) contradict previous research which allows more research to be conducted to refine a theory


  • Selye's (1949) General Adaptation Syndromepredicted in the exhaustion stage, illness occurs as a result of depletion of stress hormones, however later evidence falsified this claim and suggested an excess of stress hormones instead. Although potentially disappointing for Selye, good for Psychology as by a process of elimination the truth can be uncovered and previous research, still valid but, disproven. Unlike unscientific, unfalsifiable theories like Freud's concepts eg repression that can never be disproven
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Scientific Method Advantage - Objective

2. OBJECTIVE = another advantage of the scientific method because findings are not open to misinterpretation and thus free from any opinion bias

(+) it is an advantage because: not based on subjective opinion but facts and evidence and therefore allows unbiased studies to be conducted, as well as more valid results. It also allows disagreements over controversial issues to be resolved with convincing demonstrable evidence rather than faith or belief


  • Langer and Rodin's (1976) study used a double blind researcher in their study of control in elderly people's lives = means that subjective interpretations of results and researcher bias eliminated, as data is collected systematically by researcher who is unaware of the aims of the expt. This makes it more objective and means the researcher couldn't influence the results with their subjective beliefs either consciously or unconsciously, which increases the internal validity
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Scientific Method Advantage - Replicable

3. REPLICABLE = allows researcher to check external reliability and establish whether results were likely to have occurred by chance or if they were due to the effects of the IV on the DV

(+) it is an advantage because: a researcher can easily repeat a study to test its reliability and to find out whether results are weak or robust. If similar results are found repeatedly, it suggests that findings are robust, which gives them more validity


  • Loftus and Palmer's (1974) leading questions study has been replicated over 100 times with similar results which makes the findings very reliable and establishes them as robust; similarly, although in Perrin and Spencer's (1980) replicated study of Asch (1955) lower levels of conformity were found, the study was able to be replicated and therefore theories about conformity refined, which is essential in developing ideas and discovering new concepts. If a procedure is not replicable, it is inappropriate to determine how reliable findings are which is vital in Psychology
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Scientific Method Advantage - Control

4. CONTROL = allows researchers to highly control extraneous variables to prevent them from becoming confounding variables and distorting the results

(+) it is an advantage because: allows for controlled observations or lab experiments to be easily replicable; it is easy to confirm a cause-effect relationship with greater confidence than unscientific research because a researcher can be sure the manipulated IV caused the effect on the measured DV rather than confounding variables


  • Milgram's (1963) study was replicated by Hofling and he found similar levels of obedience; both of these studies were conducted in highly controlled conditions and were easily replicable because of this; therefore Milgram and Hofling could both be confident that the IV, the situation of being the teacher and being encouraged to continue shocking the learner, caused the DV, the shock voltage they went to, and it wasn't due to chance factors or confounding variables
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Scientific Method Advantage - Quantitative Data

5. QUANTITATIVE DATA = advantage of the scientific method as it is easy to objectively analyse large amounts of data using an appropriate inferential stats test

(+) it is an advantage because: makes data difficult to misinterpret, scientific research often uses large representative samples which causes large amounts of data, if it is quantitative, this means it won't be subjective and can be analysed, manipulated easily and compared which allows further research to be conducted and more learnt within Psychology


  • in Rahe's (1970) study, he measured the correlation between stress (in Life Change Units) and health before and during a navy mission in 2664 navy personnel. This collected quantitative data which means that the relationship between co-variable 1 (LCU) and co-variable 2 (illness) can be empirically observed, and the probability of the relationship occurring by chance established. Furthermore, because of the large quantity of quantitative data, it could be analysed and compared easily to develop further findings
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Scientific Method Advantage - Nomothetic

6. NOMOTHETIC = an advantage of the scientific method as it focuses on the similarities of people and applying general laws to everyone within society

(+) it is an advantage because: extremely useful to society, particularly when research is the basis for possible future treatments. The benefits for a large majority of people is essential when conducting psychological research because it is a lot more worthwhile. Nomothetic scientific research achieves this because it is easily generalisable to everyone


  • the biological approach assumes that everyone's brain (the nervous system), hormones and neurotransmitters function in similar ways, therefore treatments like psychosurgery, drugs and methods like brain scans have broad, useful applications. This can relieve suffering in many people as well as providing possible economic benefits to society
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