Report on Psychology Group Meeting - Meeting, Friday, 20 October 2017

We met as usual at The Owl Hotel, probably for the last time, as it now seems almost certain that bookings at this venue will not be available to U3A groups after the Hotel’s refurbishment and re-opening. I advised the group that for this reason we will have to find an alternative venue but for the time being I have booked a room at The Ash Tree pub in Barkston for our meeting on the 17th November. Instead of our usual 2 -4 pm session, however, we will have to meet between 1 and 3 pm as the pub closes at 3 pm. I understand that other alternative venues are being considered by various groups and I’ll pass on any further information I may have at the November meeting.

We then moved on to discuss the main topic of our meeting that of research methods used in psychology. As we consider psychology to be a scientific process by which the mind and behaviour are investigated and understood it seemed appropriate to look first at the research methods used in science in general. The method that always comes to mind in these discussions is the laboratory controlled experiment that we all may remember from our school days but this is by no means the only valid method of scientific research. When Charles Darwin after many years of observation, speculation and the collecting of evidence wrote up his theory of evolution he was reluctant to publish fearing a backlash from the Church. Whist his opponents could criticise his lack of experimental as opposed to observational evidence this did not detract from the fact that his theory was scientifically valid.

Before watching our two video clips on research methods we discussed two seemingly related concepts these are causation and correlation. These are often confused in everyday thinking but in careful usage show important differences in rigorous scientific thinking. We also discussed the very important issues of ethical and moral propriety in psychological research.

Our video clips began with discussions of issues that promote a desire for answers from psychologists and the views of working psychologists on how these issues could be scientifically investigated with the tools available. After viewing these clips we looked at the notes provided along with them and discussed the points they raised in the time we had left.

At our next meeting we will continue with the theme of research methods and will look in particular at the classic Stanford Prison experiment.

I look forward to seeing everyone again then.

John Moore – Group Leader
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