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scientific method

A set of rules that governs the collection and analysis of data gained through observational studies or experiments


A study in which the researcher changes the value of an independent variable and observes whether this manipulation affects the existence of cause-and-effect relations among variables

naturalistic observation

Observation of the behavior of people or other animals in their natural environments

clinical observation

Observation of the behavior of people or animals while they are undergoing diagnosis or treatment

correlational study

The examination of relations between two or more measurements of behavior or other characteristics of people or other animals


A statement, usually designed to be tested by an experiment, that tentatively expresses a cause-and-effect relationship between two or more events


A set of statements designed to explain a set of phenomena; more encompassing than a hypothesis

case study

A detailed description of an individual's behavior during the course of clinical treatment or diagnosis

survey study

A study of people's responses to standardized questions


Anything capable of assuming any of several values


Setting the values of an independent variable in an experiment to see whether the value of another variable is affected

experimental group

The group of participants in an experiment that is exposed to a particular value of the independent variable, which has been manipulated by the researcher

control group

A comparison group used in an experiment, the members of which are exposed to the naturally occurring or zero value of the independent variable

nominal fallacy

The false belief that we have explianed the causes of a phenomenon by identifying and naming it; for example, believing that we have explained lazy behavior by attributing it to 'laziness'

operational definition

Definition of a variable in terms of the operations the researcher performs to measure or manipulate it


The degree to which the operational definition of a variable accurately reflects the variable it is designed to measure or manipulate

confounding of variables

Inadvertent simultaneous manipulation of more than one variable. The results of an experiment in which variables are confounded permit no valid conclusions about cause and effect


Systematic variation of conditions in an experiment, such as the order of presentation of stimuli, so that different participants encounter the conditions in different orders; prevents confounding of independent variables with time-dependent processes such as habituation or fatigue

response bias

Responding to a questionnaire in a way that is not genuine or honest but in some other irrelevant way


The repeatability of a measurement; the likelihood that if the measurement were made again, it would yield the same value

interrater reliability

The degree to which two or more independent observers agree in their ratings of an organism's behavior

random assignment

Procedure in which each participant has an equally likely chance of being assigned to any of the conditions or groups of an experiment


An ineffectual treatment used as the control substance in a single-blind or double-blind experiment

single-blind study

An experiment in which the researcher knows the value of the independent variable but participants do not

double-blind study

And experiment in which neither the participants nor the researchers know the value of the independent variable


Systematically selecting participants in groups in an experiment or (more often) a correlational study to ensure that the mean values of important participant variables of the groups are similar


Repetition of an experiment or observational study in an effort to see whether previous results will be obtained; ensures that incorrect conclusions are weeded out


A selection of elements representative of a larger population - for example, a group of participants selected to participate in an experiment


To extend the results obtained form a sample to the population from which the sample was taken

informed consent

A person's agreement to participate in an experiment after he or she has received information about the nature of the research and any possible risks and benefits


Privacy of participants and nondisclosure of their participation in a research project


Full disclosure to research participants of the nature and purpose of a research project after its completion

descriptive statistics

Mathematical procedures for organizing collections of data

measure of central tendency

A statistical measure used to characterize the value of items in a sample of numbers


A measure of central tendency; the sum of a group of values divided by their number; the arithmetical average


A measure of central tendency; the midpoint of a group of values arranged numerically

measure of variability

A statistic the describes the degree to which scores in a set of numbers differ from one another


The difference between the highest score and the lowest score of a sample

standard deviation

A statistic that expresses the variability of a measurement; square root of the average of the squared deviations from the mean


A graph of items that have two values, one value is plotted against the horizontal axis and the other against the vertical axis

correlation coefficient

A measurement of the degree to which two variables are related

statistical significance

The likelihood that an observed relation or difference between two variables really exists rather than being due to chance factors

inferential statistics

Mathematical and logical procedures for determining whether relations or differences between samples are statistically significant

qualitative research

An alternative research strategy stressing the observation of variables that are not numerically measurable

single-subject design

An alternative research strategy that examines the effects of a manipulation on an individual participant or subject

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