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The scientific method is a systematic approach to conducting research that involves the use of critical observation and analysis as a means of drawing conclusions to test the validity of a hypothesis. This method is often used in drug trials, clinical evaluations and other scientific or medical capacities. But psychologists, when engaging in psychological research, often use the scientific method when trying to discern the relationship between two or more variables.
Psychology, which is the study of human and animal behavior, is inherently scientific and is classified as a behavior science. Similar to other scientists, psychologists hold a "scientific attitude," meaning that every aspect of their research is skeptically examined and all biases are purposefully ignored during the initial research process. As such, the scientific method plays an integral part in the process of psychological research as it helps explain the scientific findings resulting from testing a hypothesis based on initial observations.
The scientific method is important in psychological research because it provides a clear formula for using collected information to draw verifiable conclusions using the following steps:
Identifying a Problem – To conduct research of any kind, one must first choose a topic of study. Often psychologists stick to behavioral issues rather than drug interactions, but either way this first step of the scientific method is paramount. But this step can be more complicated than one might think.
Once a topic is chosen, the researcher must review all existing literature before proceeding with the study; research material is available in academic journals, government studies, psychology books and online. Once the background research is completed the researcher can form a hypothesis.
Formulating a Hypothesis – A hypothesis is rather like a guess, in that it predicts the outcome of a study without any evidence. A well-formulated hypothesis uses specific language to identify a predicted outcome in as simple a statement as possible.
Testing the Hypothesis – Psychological research takes many forms; correlational studies, descriptive research and experimental research. Descriptive research involves observing and recording behavior and then using the recorded information to draw a conclusion. Correlational studies, which are similar to descriptive research, identify relationships, or correlations, between non-manipulated materials. Experimental research is often used in medical studies.
Analyzing Data - Once all the information has been compiled and the study completed, the data must be examined. Using statistics and other methods, the researcher can summarize findings and decide if they supports the hypothesis.
Drawing a Conclusion – After summarizing the results of the study, a researcher typically records his or her findings in an essay or other scholarly modus. Often these works are published in academic journals such as the American Journal of Psychology or the Review of General Psychology.This post is made possible by Argosy University. Drawing upon our more than 30-year history of granting degrees in professional psychology, Argosy University has developed a curriculum that focuses on interpersonal skills and practical experience alongside academic learning. Because getting a degree is one thing. Succeeding, quite another.
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