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Understanding the Research Process Essay

This required Portfolio assignment will provide you with the opportunity to practice and hone your research skills. It has been designed to help you think scientifically about real world problems and issues and to apply your knowledge of the research process to various topics in Psychology. This assignment accomplishes that goal by challenging you to:

•Differentiate between the common use of the word research and the use of the word research in the social and behavioral sciences

•Identify the major steps in the research process using a classic study in Psychology as an example.

Part I: Defining Research

The word research is used in many different ways. Consider the following examples:

•Your friend tells you that he intends to research different hair products before deciding on one to buy.

•A real estate agent advises you to research home values in your neighborhood before putting your house on the market.

•A police officer reports that she is doing ‘some research’ on possible motives for a crime that was committed.

•A writer states that he does ‘extensive research’ before beginning his fictional works.

Answer the questions below:

1.How is research defined in the social and behavioral sciences?

Research in social and behavioral sciences are defined by a theory and a theory helps to generate a hypothesis.

2.What makes scientific research different from the examples provided above? In your response, be sure to address the characteristics of ‘good’ psychological research.

Scientific research is different from the examples above because scientific research would not rely exclusively on any single method to lay a solid empirical foundation for a theory. Good psychological research contains theoretical framework, a standardized procedure, generalizability, and objective measurement.

Part II: Understanding the research process

Researchers in Psychology follow a systematic process of investigation. Carefully read Chapter 2 of your textbook, paying special attention to the section on Experimental Research. Then go to Chapter 7 in your textbook and read the following section: Research In-Depth: Counterfactuals and “If Only…” Thinking. Answer the questions below, using Medvec & colleagues’ first study as an example: 1.What hypothesis did Medvec & colleagues set out to test in their first study of the ‘near miss’ phenomenon? Describe the theory associated with this hypothesis.

The near miss phenomenon led researchers to hypothesize that the ease of generating counterfactuals could lead some individuals with more positive objective outcomes to actually feel worse about their situation compared to someone whose objective situation was actually worse. 2.Identify the variables in the study and describe how they were measured. How did the researchers operationalize (test or measure) affective response upon winning a bronze or silver medal?

The variables in the study by Medvec was two videos, one including segments showing silver and bronze medalists at the moment that they heard the outcome of their competition, and another with segments showing the medalists on the medal stand. The researchers showed the videotapes to college students, who evaluated how happy the athlete appeared using a 10-point scale ranging from agony to ecstasy. The responses were averaged across participants to provide an overall index of how satisfied each of the athletes appeared.

3.Who were the participants in the study and what did they do?

The participant in the study was the silver and bronze medalists of the 1992 summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain and their affective reactions to winning. 4.Describe the data that were collected and analyzed.

The data that was collected and analyzed was videotapes that evaluated how happy the athlete appeared using a 10-point scale ranging from agony to ecstasy.

5.Describe the results of the study. What did the researchers conclude?

The studies conducted by Medvec and colleagues concluded that the athletes who were objectively better off by winning the silver medal appeared more dejected than those who won the bronze medal. 6.If you were to design a follow-up experiment on this subject, what might it be? If I was to do a follow-up experiment on this subject, I would use crowd members instead of judges and college students because they were actually there to see the medalists and their reactions.

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