Define the Scientific Method

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The goals for this section are to:
  • Define the scientific method, and
  • Define and describe the characteristics of a scientific theory, explaining how theories are tested by research.

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What does a scientist/psychologist look like? Complete this work in your journal.
  1. Write 5 adjectives that describe a “scientist”.
  2. Write 5 adjectives that describe a “psychologist”.
  3. Did you choose similar or different words to describe the two?

At the end of the course we’ll come back and choose adjectives again.

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Throughout this course we will be referring you to readings from the e-textbook "Introduction to Psychology, First Edition" by Charles Stangor, published in 2006 by Flat World Knowledge. You can purchase this book in print on online format from Flat World Publishers.

Read the introduction and section 2.1 of the Stangor e-textbook.

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Watch the first two segments of the MIT lecture on “Science and Research”:

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In the MIT video, the lecturer mentions again some of the key people in the early history of Psychology. Answer for yourself in your journal:
  1. Was Wundt’s study of the speed with which people can choose a color an experiment? Why or why not?
  2. Was Titchener’s use of the method of introspection an experiment? Why or why not?
  3. In your own words, how would you define an experiment? Can you make a short list of criteria that you could use to decide whether or not something is an experiment?