How can we help?

You can also find more resources in our Help Center.

hindsight bias

the tendency to believe, after learning an outcome, that one would have foreseen it

critical thinking

thinking that does not blindly accept arguments and conclusions; rather, it examines assumptions, discerns hidden values, evaluates evidence, and assesses conclusions

theory

an explanation using an integrated set of principles that organizes observations and predicts behaviors or events

hypothesis

a testable prediction, often implied by a theory

operational definition

a statement of the procedures (operations) used to define research variables

replication

repeating the essence of research study, usually with different participants in different situations, to see whether the basic finding extends to other participants and circumstances

case study

an observation technique in which one person is studied in depth in the hope of revealing universal principles

survey

a technique for ascertaining the self-reported attitudes or behaviors of people, usually by questioning a representative, random sample of them

false consensus effect

the tendency to overestimate the extent to which others share our beliefs and behaviors

population

all the cases in a group, from which samples may be drawn for a study

random sample

a sample that fairly represents a population because each member has an equal chance of inclusion

naturalistic observation

observing and recording behavior in naturally occurring situations without trying to manipulate and control the situation

correlation

a measure of the extent to which two factors vary together, and thus of how well either factor predicts the other

correlation coefficient

mathematical expression of correlation, ranging from -1 to +1

scatterplot

a graphed cluster of dots, each of which represents the values of two variables; the slope of the points suggests the direction of the relationship between the two variables; the amount of scatter suggests the strength of the correlation

experiment

a research method in which an investigator manipulates one or more factors (independent variables) to observe the effect on some behavior or mental process (dependent variable)

double-blind procedure

an experimental procedure in which both the research participant and the research staff are ignorant about whether the participants have received the treatment or a placebo

placebo effect

experimental results caused by expectations alone; any effect on behavior caused by the administration of an inert substance or condition, which is assumed to be an active agent

experimental condition

the condition of an experiment that exposes participants to the treatment, that is, to one version of the independent variable

control condition

the condition of an experiment that contrasts with the experimental condition and serves as a comparison for evaluating the effect of the treatment

random assignment

assigning participants to experimental and control conditions by chance, thus minimizing preexisting differences between those assigned to the different groups

independent variable

the experimental factor that is manipulated; the variable whose effect is being studied

dependent variable

the outcome factor; the variable that may change in response to manipulations of the independent variable

mode

the most frequently occurring score(s) in a distribution

mean

the arithmetic average of a distribution

median

the middle score in a distribution; half the scores are above it and half are below it

range

the difference between the highest and lowest scores in a distribution

standard deviation

a computed measure of how much scores vary around the mean score

statistical significance

a statistical statement of how likely it is that an obtained result occurred by chance

culture

the enduring behaviors, ideas, attitudes, and traditions shared by a large group of people and transmitted from one generation to the next

stratified sample

a sample that is deliberately drawn from the population based on identified characteristics of the population, such as gender, race, age

illusory correlation

the perception of a relationship where none exists

treatment

a form of experimentation in which an active agent or behavior is believed to trigger the effects characterized by the active agent

single-blind procedure

an experimental procedure in which the research participants are ignorant about whether they have received the placebo or the treatment