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6. Limitations of the Scientific Method
About this Lecture
In this lecture, we address some of the limitations of the scientific method, focusing in particular on: (i) expanding upon the failings highlighted in the previous lecture on ‘the day science broke’; (ii) the first point of focus being variance between individuals, highlighting that, despite the dramatic variability between people, underlying behavioural consistencies can be targeted by interventions; (iii) the idea of bias, particularly in scientists who are looking to reject their null hypothesis; (iv) the last point of address as the idea of constructs, defined and operationalised (turned into a measurable phenomenon) by researchers; (v) the influence of constructs on biases arising in research; (vi) the concept of emotion from Dr Paterson’s own research, to demonstrate the complexity of developing a construct and the consequences of it being improperly done.
In this course, Dr Paterson (University of Glasgow) walks through the method and construction of psychological research, looking to understand psychology as a science. In the first lecture, we focus on hypotheses as an initial step in developing a research study, contextualising them into the three primary goals of science – to make new knowledge, to explain phenomena, and to predict what will happen next. In the second lecture, we take a powerful tool in the hands of researchers – theories, providing a history lesson on the development of memory theories by Ebbinghaus and Bartlett. The importance of understanding theories is highlighted here, demonstrating with this example that seemingly contradictory theories can complement one another and inform the development of a more comprehensive theory. In the third and fourth lectures, we look at the mechanics of the scientific method and how it informs a researcher’s ability to accept or reject their null hypothesis, through finding evidence for their theory. Next, we lead on from the latter part of lecture four’s discussion of replication, by discussing ‘the day science broke’; exploring reasons why classic studies have not been able to be replicated with matching results. In the sixth and final lecture, we expand on this by looking at some other potential failings of the scientific method.
Dr Helena Paterson is a lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of Glasgow, responsible for teaching both research methods and social psychology. Dr Paterson’s research interests lie in the development of dynamic social events. One focus of this is understanding how human qualities are represented by the human cognitive system and, by extension, how we develop representations of social events and the accompanying stereotypes/biases. Dr Paterson is an advocate of open science, incorporating its principles into her research and teaching. Some of Dr Paterson’s recent publications include ‘Open-source tutorials benefit the field’ (2022) and ‘Data visualization using R for researchers who do not use R’ (2022).
Cite this Lecture
Paterson, H. (2021, November 15). Issues and Debates – Psychology as a Science - Limitations of the Scientific Method [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/understanding-psychology-as-a-science/limitations-of-the-scientific-method
Paterson, H. "Issues and Debates – Psychology as a Science – Limitations of the Scientific Method." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 30 Nov 2021, https://www.massolit.io/courses/understanding-psychology-as-a-science/limitations-of-the-scientific-method