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3 Strange words, long sentences and lost meanings

In reading for a purpose it is not unusual to get stuck on unfamiliar words and concepts or struggle with complex ideas and sentences. This section suggests tactics for coping with unfamiliar words (and inadequate dictionaries), unpacking complex sentences and retrieving lost meanings. In order to do this we will draw on an extract taken from a book, Crime and Society in Britain, by Hazel Croall (1998) which is a social science text. It thus contains more ‘conceptual’ or ‘technic
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1.1 Preparation for study

One of the main purposes of this course is to help you develop two kinds of skills:

  • the general skills of being a student

  • some skills which are particularly associated with the way social scientists work.

Both are of fundamental importance to your success in studying other courses. This course is about the very basic study skills of reading and taking notes. These are basic in the sense that they are the foundation for al
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Cannabis, Consciousness and the Imagination
We know drunk-driving causes death on the roads, but how does taking drugs like cannabis affect your driving skills? This album offers a chance to see how psychologists perform experiments which measure how much cannabis distorts a normal state of consciousness. Tracks 5-8 explore human inventiveness, pointing out that nothing in the world could have been made without the human capacity for imagination. Evolutionary anthropologists use the example of tool-making, showing that humans started to d
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Exploring Psychology
How humans think, develop, and experience the world around us has been fascinating psychologists for over 100 years. The tracks in this album cover a range of case studies, looking at factors which can influence the development of our personalities. What is the impact of significant people in our early lives? How do you go about the process of researching topics like this in social psychology? The audio tracks feature disabled people who reflect on how disability has affected their sense of ide
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Mindfulness in mental health and prison settings
This free course, Mindfulness in mental health and prison settings, introduces the key ideas and practices of mindfulness, describes how it is helping counselling clients and prisoners, and also looks at some of the criticisms mindfulness has received in recent years. First published on Mon, 22 Jul 2019 as Author(s): Creator not set

4 Conclusion

This course has explored the social impact of psychology and provided a brief historical overview to explore the diversity of psychology as a discipline. You have read about the different kinds of data that are used as evidence and the different types of methods used to gather these data. You have also gained an understanding of the ethical issues that need to be considered when conducting research.

The material for this course is taken from the introductory chapter to the course DSE21
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3.3 Psychological tests

The most commonly used psychological tests, such as intelligence tests and personality tests, are highly structured forms of self-report where participants have to solve problems or choose from fixed alternatives on a questionnaire. Researchers then work out a score for each participant that gives information about their intelligence or personality. These tests are different from ordinary questionnaires in the way they are constructed and pre-tested. They are tried out on large numbers
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3.2 Questionnaires and interviews

If we are interested in what people think or feel, or in behaviours that are difficult to observe in humans, we need to ask people about themselves. This is a variant on introspection, in that researchers are not looking inside themselves but are using the best possible means to obtain other people's introspections. Psychologists do this through both questionnaires and interviews. Many of you will have filled in questionnaires from market researchers on the street or at home. Questi
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3.1 The beginning of the research process

What distinguishes psychological research from common sense is that psychologists approach information and knowledge in a systematic and consciously articulated way. They use rules and procedures about how to build and apply theories, how to design studies to test hypotheses, how to collect data and use them as evidence, and how to evaluate all forms of knowledge. (See Figure 1, ‘The cycle of enquiry’ in Author(s): The Open University

2.3.2 Inner experiences

A second kind of data is people's inner experiences, including their feelings, beliefs and motives. These cannot be directly seen from the outside; they remain private unless freely spoken about or expressed in some other way. Examples of these inner experiences include feelings, thoughts, images, representations, dreams, fantasies, beliefs and motivations or reasons. These are only accessible to others via verbal or written reports or as inferred from behaviours such as non-verbal communicat
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2.2 Researching ourselves

Psychology aims to provide understandings of us, as humans. At a personal level this closeness to our private concerns draws us in and excites us. However, since psychologists are humans, and hence are researching issues just as relevant to themselves as to their research participants, they can be attracted towards researching certain topics and maybe away from others. This is perhaps more evident for psychological research that is most clearly of social relevance. At a societal level all kin
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2.1 An evidence-based enterprise

We have seen that psychology is an evidence-based enterprise and we have also seen that disputes about what should count as evidence have had an important impact on the development of psychology as a discipline. For example, the rise of behaviourism was driven by the idea that only observable behaviour is legitimate data for psychology because only data that can be observed by others, and agreed upon, can be objective. Many other disciplines have had less trouble with this issue
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1.3 Psychology has social impact

The relevance of psychology to everyday concerns, and the ease with which it can be popularised and used, mean that psychological knowledge – some of it dubious, some of it accurate – is continually absorbed into culture and often incorporated into the very language we use. Examples of psychological concepts that have entered popular discourse include the notion that we are predisposed, both through evolution and through the functioning of our brains and nervous systems, to behave in cert
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1.1 Psychology in everyday life

Psychological ideas are popular in everyday life because the subject matter of psychology is people and, hence, ourselves. Even if you have never studied any psychology before, it is likely that you will have encountered psychological ideas in the media or in discussions with other people. Psychological research findings and their practical and professional application are regularly in the newspapers, on television, radio, and on the Internet. For example, the possible evolutionary origins of
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Introduction

The key message of this course is that different psychologists focus on different aspects of human behaviour in different ways. Take the topic of learning, some psychologists will study what happens in our brain when we learn, while others will consider how we learn within a social context. This course will first highlight how psychology is now a very visible part of everyday life and then explore its diverse roots in medicine, philosophy, biology, psychoanalysis a
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4 Adding variables

Activity 3

0 hours 20 minutes

This activity explores how to create data sets and add information to SPSS. If you are doing any work with SPSS the chances are that you will need to
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3 Using the Menu

Activity 2

0 hours 20 minutes

This activity follows the previous one by encouraging you to explore the menus available in the SPSS software. Each item has been annotated to provid
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Acknowledgements

Except for third party materials and otherwise stated (see terms and conditions), this content is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following sources for permission to reproduce materia
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Keep on learning

Study another free course

There are more than 800 courses on OpenLearn for you to c
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3 The challenge of change

…although we may be striving to turn a profession that has the inertia of a supertanker, as individuals each of us is a speed boat that can turn on a dime…

(Pate and Hohn (1994), p. 217)

The American authors of the quote above suggest that PE needs to change so that it places primary emphasis on the promotion of lifelong exercise. However, they consider that this could be slow and difficult
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