Ch. 2- Research and Psychology; by Elleni Paulson
If we knew what we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
Psychology, according to the Lilienfeld text, is a "hard science", involving detailed and meticulous research methods for supporting and proving hypotheses and theories. The authors of this text assert the importance of scientific and critical thinking methods - specifically, in the second chapter.
Chapter 2 offers explanations on why quality research is necessary, noting various biases we encounter, "tools" of the scientific method, and ethical issues in research design. The chapter also discusses ways to interpret statistical information and other types of psychological research.
In explaining the importance of careful research design, the book cites one incident that would make any reader's skin crawl: the Tuskegee study. In this study, 399 men served as subjects for syphilis-related testing, without being provided with any information on the tests. Scientists simply let the disease run its course - a study that ended in multitudes of infected women and children, and countless deaths. Only eight of the original test subjects survived the study. This atrocious scandal shows us the importance of ethics with regard to psychological studies, and emphasizes the importance of morally sound, critically thorough research methods. The importance of these things becomes clear after reading the Tuskegee scandal - a mistake that we humans hope never to duplicate.
This second chapter of Lilienfeld's text serves as a springboard into the world of psychology: without knowledge of these research methods, it's doubtful that we would be successful in studying the inner workings of our minds. Albert Einstein was correct in his quote - research is founded upon the idea of discovery. However, the text shows us that research must be carefully conducted and analyzed in order to truly discover something great.