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Psych 101

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1. Describe and give original, complete examples of case studies, naturalistic observation (experiments), and psychological tests and surveys. Also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each research method.

Case studies involve an in-depth examination of single individuals. Typically the individual or small group of individuals being examined possess some skill, or have some problem that is unusual. An example of a case study would be a researcher studying a convicted serial killer to see why he murders people. The researcher would look for a way to diagnose why the serial killer is unusual, and why they murder others. One advantage of case studies are that conclusions drawn are based on a more complete set of information about the subjects. Only by examining a single individual can a researcher gain such complete information. One great disadvantage of a case study is that there can be a bias from the researcher towards the person being studied. This bias could lead to overlooking some facts while concentrating on others. Another disadvantage is that in a lot of cases, information is either missing or is inaccurate.

A naturalistic observation or field study, is defined as an observation of real life situations. An example of a naturalistic observation is that of a researcher who wants to examine aggressive behavior in male and female children. The researcher may watch children in the school playground, and record the number of aggressive acts boys and girls display. One advantage to a naturalistic observation is that the behavior of the subjects will reflect their true behavior as it takes place in a natural setting, where they do not realize that they are being observed. A great disadvantage to naturalistic observation is that the researcher has no control over the setting. An example of this could be any type of outside influence. In my example of the researcher examining the children, what if a boy was more aggressive, not because he is male, but because his parents at home are abusive.

Psychological tests and survey studies ask large numbers of people questions about their behaviors, attitudes, and opinions. Some surveys describe what people say they think and do. An example of psychological tests and surveys would be a researcher questioning whether there is a relationship between gender and people's attitudes about some social issues. A great advantage of psychological tests and surveys would be that researcher are able to gather a great deal of information from large groups of people. The greatest disadvantage with psychological tests and surveys is that they rely on the honesty of the person taking them. With the ethical issue of keeping confidentiality, researchers would not know who to track down to see if the person's answers were true or fictional.

2. Discuss in detail the characteristics of a correlational design. Explain examples of a positive and a negative correlation. How does a correlational design differ from an experimental design?

When researchers use the Correlation design technique, they are observing the association between two or more attributes that occur naturally. Do children who come from economically advantaged families perform better academically? In this case we are asking is there a relationship between one variable to another variable. Correlation studies only tell us that there is a relationship between the two variables. They do not tell us which variable caused the other.

An example of a positive correlation design would be, the more wealthy the home a child lives in, the better that child will do in school. If measured on a graph chart, there would be a definite rise in better grades. On the other hand, an example of a negative correlation design would be comparing, the more wealthy the home a child lives in, the less behavior problems they would have in school. If measured on a graph chart, there would be a definite drop in the number of incidents.

The correlation design differs from an experimental design in that with a correlation design, there is no manipulating of the subjects. A correlation design simply looks at two different variables and drawn conclusions without any interference. Correlation designs also tend to show results in graphs, whereas experimental designs do not. Also, correlational studies have less control over the subjects environment and therefore have a hard time ruling out different explanations.

3. Describe in detail the components of the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system and discuss the function of each component.

Our central nervous system allows us to perceive, adapt to, and interact with the world. It is made up of two components. The brain and the spinal cord. The spinal cord is referred to as an extension of the brain. The spinal cord runs from the base of the brain down to the bottom of the back. It is protected by bones which we refer to as the spinal column. An amazing feature of the spinal cord lies in what is known as spinal reflexes. A spinal reflex is an action the spinal cord sets into motion as a way of protecting the body. An example of spinal reflex would be a person baking cookies. They take the hot pan out of the oven and lay it on the counter. While they are removing the cookies from the sheet, they accidentally touch the edge of the pan with their finger. Immediately they pull their finger away from the pan. They have not felt the pain yet however. This jerking away of the finger is caused by a spinal reflex.

The brain is divided up into three different sections. The forebrain, the midbrain, and the hindbrain. However something so complex as the brain cannot be easily identified as having only three sections. We must delve deeper and label other sub sections. The Forebrain, which makes up the top and front of the brain, contains the cerebral cortex, limbic system, thalamus and hypothalamus. The cerebral cortex is what controls all thinking duties. The limbic system controls emotion, motivation, and learning. The thalamus relays sensory information to the cerebral cortex. The hypothalamus controls the endocrine system, autonomic functions, body temperature, emotions, hunger etc. It also contains the biological clock that controls the body's daily rhythms.

The midbrain is in charge of all audio and visual information. The sub sections of the midbrain are the superior colliculi, inferior colliculi, reticular activation system, gray matter, red nucleus, substantia nigra and the ventral region. The superior colliculi controls all vision. The inferior colliculi controls all hearing. The reticular activation system controls consciousness which includes sleep and arousal. Gray matter, red nucleus, substantia nigra, and ventral region

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