One of the main issues discussed in Chapter Two is the importance of sound research methods. The field of psychology is ever changing, so when psychologists conduct experiments they must make sure that the experiments follow a few simple rules. A few of these rules are that experiments must be valid, they must be reliable, be free of cognitive biases, and have good data.
What does this all mean? Well validity simply means that the measurements used assesses what it was intended or claimed to measure. Reliability may seem like the same thing as validity but it actually is not. Reliability has to do with how consistently something is measured. Finally, cognitive biases are systematic errors in the way that we think. They can include overconfidence about the data collected, or about what the end result of the experiment will be. This cognitive bias can have a great affect on the outcomes of experiments.
A new article that was just published in the New York Times illustrates the importance of scientists reporting unbiased and sound data. This article is titled Daily Aspirin Is Not for Everyone, Study Suggests. This study shows that the original experiment of taking Asprin to prevent headaches was flawed. The study did not follow some of the most basic research methods that are covered in out textbook. The article and new study suggest that there was not enough random selection in this experiment, that it was not valid, and because some drug industries were backing it, the original study could have cognitive biases. The article concludes with the warning that taking Asprin too much can actually harm people more than help them.
For the science of psychology to advance scientists must be honest, skeptical, and take good data. If they do not follow basic research methods many individuals could be hurt.