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Why Science Matters: Understanding the Methods of Psychological Research

ISBN: 978-1-4051-3049-3
248 pages
January 2006, ©2006, Wiley-Blackwell
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Why Science Matters: Understanding the Methods of Psychological Research rises above standard research methods texts by presenting an up-to-date view of contemporary psychological science as it is currently understood and practiced.

  • Explores not only the procedural aspects of psychological research, but also delves into the issue of how to accomplish effective science.

  • Explicates how hypotheses and theories are to be evaluated.

  • Suggests that the proper approach to devising and evaluating theories is by abduction, not by induction or deduction alone.

  • Incorporates new investigatory procedures, current methodologists, conflicts and issues, implications of the philosophy of science, and a lively prose style.

  • Provides a picture of science that will engage students and expand their abilities as both scientists and psychologists.
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Preface for Instructors viii

Preface for Students x

Part 1: Major Methodological Changes in Science from Antiquity to the Present 1

Chapter 1: Understanding Science: The Armchair versus Practice 3

Introduction 3

Justification of methodological practices 4

Precursors to contemporary science: an historical overview 8

Research paradigms, programs, and traditions 14

Naturalism: a brief introduction 16

Remainder of book 18

Chapter summary 19

Chapter 2: Major Issues to Emerge in 20th Century Approaches to Science 20

Introduction 20

Logical positivism 21

Operationism 26

Popper’s falsificationism 27

Kuhn’s psychologism and historicism 33

Chapter summary 38

Chapter 3: Methodology in the Postpositivist Era 39

Introduction 39

Naturalism in science 41

Lakatos’s sophisticated falsificationism 43

Laudan’s research traditions and normative naturalism 46

Giere’s cognitive approach 49

The rise of relativism 51

Chapter summary 54

Part 2: Naturalism and Modern Science 55

Chapter 4: Theory Testing 57

Introduction 57

Scientific theory 58

Types of theory 60

Hypothesis testing 63

Induction and deduction 70

Abduction and theory construction 72

Chapter summary 78

Chapter 5: Inference to the Best Explanation 79

Introduction 79

Evaluating theories: a critical evaluation of criteria 81

Resolution of ambiguity over time 83

Natural selection 85

Brain function and cognitive neuroscience 89

Consilience 92

Chapter summary 95

Chapter 6: The New Means of Understanding Science 96

Introduction 96

Empirical methods for better understanding science, scientific practice, and scientists 97

Chapter summary 118

Part 3: Applying Naturalism to Contemporary Methodological Issues in Psychology 119

Chapter 7: Postmodernism and the Rejection of the Conventional Conception of Science 121

Introduction 121

Underdetermination and incommensurability 122

Postmodernism 126

Our critique 137

Chapter summary 141

Chapter 8: Qualitative Research Methods 142

Introduction 142

Rationale for qualitative methods 145

Varieties of qualitative methods 151

Chapter summary 163

Chapter 9: Critical Evaluation of Qualitative Inquiry’s Approach to Qualitative Methods 164

Introduction 164

Justification of qualitative methods 167

Misunderstanding of positivism 170

Specific positions of qualitative researchers 172

Chapter summary 179

Chapter 10: Internal and External Validity 180

Introduction 180

Applications of scientific psychology 183

Scientific psychology opposes pseudoscience 187

Chapter and book summary 191

References 195

Glossary of Terms 210

Glossary of Names 217

Author Index 221

Subject Index 226

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Robert W. Proctor is Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychological Science at Purdue University at West Lafayette. He has been teaching and conducting research in the field of attention and human performance for nearly 30 years. His publications include Attention: Theory and Practice (with Addie Johnson, 2003) and Skill Acquisition and Human Performance (with Addie Johnson, 1995).

E. J. Capaldi is Distinguished Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychological Science at Purdue University. Dr. Capaldi is a leading researcher in the field of learning and memory. He is the co-author of numerous articles and contributor to books such as The Blackwell Handbook to Research Methods of Experimental Psychology.

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  • Explores not only the procedural aspects of psychological research, but also delves into the issue of how to accomplish effective science.
  • Explicates how hypotheses and theories are to be evaluated.
  • Suggests that the proper approach to devising and evaluating theories is by abduction, not by induction or deduction alone.
  • Incorporates new investigatory procedures, current methodologists, conflicts and issues, implications of the philosophy of science, and a lively prose style.
  • Provides a picture of science that will engage students and expand their abilities as both scientists and psychologists.
See More
"This book is an excellent exposition of historical and contemporary issues in the philosophy of science, and is particularly useful for psychologists and other behavioral scientists. Its core ideas will be useful to students, practitioners, and researchers alike."
--Craig A. Anderson, Iowa State University

"This book provides a comprehensive, fascinating, and up-to date account of what underlies the process of science. While there are many books on the nature of science written by philosophers, sociologists, historians and psychologists, this is the first volume that provides a sweeping vista of all these different approaches. Proctor and Capaldi have written a book that is a must-have for anyone who wants to understand the enterprise that we call science."
--Kevin Niall Dunbar, Dartmouth College"This is a sophisticated, important, readable, and timely treatment of both the philosophy of science and the science of psychology. It would be a valuable addition to any advanced seminar on research methods in the behavioral sciences."
--David Klahr, Carnegie Mellon University

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