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Statistics and Psychology

There are numerous applications of statistical reasoning and research methods in the field of psychology. From simple aspects of reading and interpreting psychology articles, to completing personal research, statistics is a necessary concept to understand. The scientific method is essential to research, and many of the concepts cross the lines into statistics.

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It is also imperative for us to compare and contrast the characteristics of primary and secondary data. Ultimately, the focus of these topics centers on the application of statistical reasoning in psychology.Statistics in Psychology One might ask themselves how mathematical concepts could possibly apply to psychology. The answer is simpler than many imagine, all one has to do is focus on the interpretation. Reading psychology research articles is a common occurrence for anyone in the field. Without the ability to understand the jargon, tables, graphs, and other aspects at the heart of statistics, one is unable to truly process the findings of research (Aron, Aron, & Coups, 2009). Research is an iatrical part to nearly every field of psychology, but especially those who seek to answer questions and gain insight to problems.Most fields of psychology –including counseling and clinical focuses- require answers to questions (Aron, Aron, & Coups, 2009). Answering questions requires some form of research, which uses statistics on some level. To answer many of these questions, research is done with some application of the scientific method. Research and the Scientific Method When searching for the answer to a problem, most go about it in an orderly way. The research done in the scientific method is simple application of systematic and logical steps to problem solving (Cowens, 2006).Using the five-step process allows researchers to examine any inquiry. The Five-Step Approach The first step is to determine a problem to solve, or make an observation (Cowens, 2006). This can be a simple question or a more complex desire to understand how or why something works. For instance, a psychologist seeks to understand why certain object triggers rage in a patient. Step two is to determine a hypothesis (Cowens, 2006). A hypothesis is usually a speculation or idea about how or why something happens. This step seeks to predict the outcome or reasoning of the problem.The psychologist may form the hypothesis that the object triggers rage because the patient associates the object with past trauma. Now it is time to test the hypothesis. Experimentation and research enters the picture for this step (Cowens, 2006). To test the hypothesis, the psychologist may use sessions or questions as research. They may also try other objects, or use hypnosis to recall the trauma. Recording the observations is an essential step in the scientific method (Cowens, 2006). All observations are important, and frequency tables, graphs, and charts explore the statistical application of the scientific method.In addition to these, psychologists may use notes to explore the reasoning. The final step is drawing a conclusion (Cowens, 2006). The purpose of this step is the interpretation of the findings. The results may either support the hypothesis, or raise new questions to explore. The psychologist may find no past trauma, and determine that all purple objects trigger both rage and fear. They then will seek a new hypothesis to begin a new search for answers. Primary and Secondary Data In any aspect of research, it is imperative to consider the validity of results.Primary data is described as data observed or collected directly from first-hand experience (Triola, 2010). Secondary data is published data, or data collected by others (Triola, 2010). Primary data is preferred in research because the knowledge is obtained first-hand, where secondary relies on the observations of others. For instance, more accurate results in a weight study will come from the direct weighing of the patients than asking them their weight. Statistics in Research Psychologists use univariate principles when they measure only one variable and multivariate procedure when using variables to ascertain relationships (Chow, 2002).Psychologists often use statistics to identify areas of research interest. In testing a hypothesis, many researchers need to turn questions into testable numerical data. One of the most common statistics applications is the testing of the null hypothesis. The null hypothesis involves the original claim –like 50 out of 100 patients see success in regression techniques to overcome phobias- and turning it into a mathematical claim (µ = 50). The alternative hypothesis represents the difference of a claim, or the probability that it is untrue because the test statistic is outside the given range (µ ? 50).These claims are tested, and if it is found that less than 50 patients saw success with regression techniques, then researchers are able to use statistical reasoning to disprove the statement. Overall, statistical reasoning is extremely important in the interpretation of research results obtained through the scientific method. Personal Application The concepts discussed throughout this paper have focused on many answers this author hopes to find in her professional life, and has pursued in her personal life. The author cited the example of rage and fear caused by purple, because her nine-year-old sister suffers problems with this concept.After many trials, tests, and visits to therapy, we were able to determine that she associated the color with Barney the dinosaur, and she cross-associated Barney with a fear of dinosaurs coming back to life in an old movie. Although a simple study, it had great impact on this author’s life, and her future pursuit of psychology. Conclusion Statistical reasoning in psychology may seem like a contradiction to many. However, any pursuit of answers requires research –which employs the scientific method and statistics. We have determined primary data to be more beneficial and reliable than secondary data.We have also applied the concept of hypotheses to statistics and basic research. In conclusion, even simple understanding in psychology is often related to statistical reasoning. ?References Aron, A. , Aron, E. N. , & Coups, E. J. (2009). Statistics for psychology (5th ed. ). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall Chow, S. L. (2002). Statistics and its role in psychological research. Methods in Psychological Research. Retrieved October 3, 2010 from ProQuest database. Cowens, J. (2006, August/September). The scientific method. Teaching PreK-8. (37)1. 42. Triola, M. F. (2010). Elementary Statistics. (11th Ed. ). Boston, MA: Pearson.