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scientific method include a reliance on the empirical approach toward acquiring knowledge, and the skeptical attitude that scientists adopt toward explanations of behavior and mental processes (5). The empirical approach entails relying on direct observation and on objectivity. Once a scientist observes an object or a phenomenon and describes the phenomenon using clearly defined terms, he or she will probably formulate a hypothesis. The hypothesis is generally designed to provide a testable explanation for the phenomenon. Next, the scientist constructs an experiment and uses the hypothesis to predict the results. Finally, the scientist performs tests. The results should ideally be published in scientific journals so that other scientists can replicate the study and subject the hypothesis to the same scrutiny.
The skeptical attitude that scientists adopt assumes that they will accept nothing in the absence of scientific proof. The scientist takes care not to jump to conclusions too early and only relies on hard evidence when reaching conclusions. When encountering new studies, the scientist will make sure that the research has been replicated and validated. The scientist also remains skeptical by only accepting evidence from reputable, trustworthy sources.
Although scientists try to keep open minds, they also must take care to not jump to erroneous conclusions. Skepticism means testing ideas before believing them, relying more on objective measuring instruments than on subjectivity. Eliminating subjectivity in the field of psychology can be especially difficult, which is why scientists try to devise operational definitions that serve the purposes of individual studies.
2. Early psychologists chose the empirical approach as a favored method for psychological investigations because it relies on direct observation rather than on intuition or superstition; and because it relies on experimentation to gather results. Psychology is a relatively new field. One of the main reasons why psychologists favored the empirical approach was to gain acceptance into the broader scientific community, and to ensure that the theories that they developed could be tested and replicated. Behaviorism was perfectly suited for the scientific method because behaviors can be easily measured and observed. Through the empirical models, the human subject can be treated almost as a lab animal, and the variables of the study carefully controlled. Also, early psychologists wanted to help people better understand human behaviors and cognitive processes without relying on superstition or religion; prior to the scientific study of psychology, the study of human behavior and of the mind were largely based on superstitious and religious beliefs.
Through the empirical approach, psychologists could formulate testable hypotheses that could be replicated and applied toward improving people's lives. Even without the framework of behaviorism, psychology remained an empirical science if not a hard one because studies are designed with specific controls and measures that ensure that all results are a product of observation, testing, and analysis.
3. The computer was critical to the development of psychology in the twentieth century particularly because it sparked and influenced the development of cognitive psychology, neuropsychology, and psychophysiology. The development of the personal computer also changed the ways psychologists viewed the human mind and body: the terminology scientists used shifted, as scientists began referring to the brain as the body's computer. For example, in everyday language people refer to emotions or behaviors that are "hard-wired." Therefore, one of the main ways the computer influenced the evolution of the study of psychology was through providing a vibrant, rich metaphor for the human condition.
Second, computers were and still are instrumental to such practical uses as statistical analyses, measurements, and modeling. Computers are essential for performing advanced neuropsychological and psychophysiological tests such as MRIs. Computers have helped scientists better understand the brain and how it works, through sophisticated software systems.
Today, computers are widely used in the field of psychology to do everything from administering perception, cognition, and personality tests, to writing reports to, analyzing complex arrays of data. Moreover, computers have enabled social scientists to have access to numerous academic databases online in order to facilitate research. New and exciting fields related to psychology such as cybernetics and artificial intelligence were inspired by the computer.
4. (1) Social and cultural factors inevitably influence a psychologists' choice of research topics. For example, a female psychologist might be particularly interested in studying…[continue]
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