Psychological Research: Crash Course Psychology #2

Psychological Research: Crash Course Psychology #2

Can week-old pizza cause psychedelic hallucinations?
Does coffee make you smarter? Or does it just make you do dumb stuff faster? Like a bunch of psychology itself, questions
like this can seem pretty intuitive. I mean, people may not be the easiest organisms to
understand, but you’re a person, right? So you must be qualified to draw, like, some
conclusions about other people and what makes them tick. But it’s important to realize that your intuition
isn’t always right. In fact, sometimes it is exactly wrong, and we tend to grossly underestimate
the dangers of false intuition. If you have an idea about a person and their behavior
that turns out to be right, that reinforces your trust in your intuition. Like if one
of my buddies, Bob, begins eating that deep-dish pizza that’s been in the fridge for the past
week but he eats it anyway and soon starts to wig out, I’ll say “Dude, I told you so”.
But if I’m wrong and he’s totally fine, I probably won’t even think about it ever again. This is known as ‘Hindsight Bias” or the “I-Knew-It-All-Along”
phenomenon. This doesn’t mean the common sense is wrong, it just means that our intuitive
sense more easily describes what just happened, than what will happen in the future. Another
reason you can’t blindly trust your intuition is your natural tendency toward overconfidence.
Sometimes, you just really, really feel like you’re right about people when actually you’re
really, really wrong. We’ve all been there. We also tend to perceive order in random events,
which can lead to false assumptions. For example, if you flip a coin five times you have equal
chances of getting all tails as you do getting alternating heads and tails. But we see the
series of five tails as something unusual, as a streak, and thus giving that result some
kind of meaning that it very definitely does not have. That is why we have the methods and safe-guards
of psychological research and experimentation, and the glorious process of scientific inquiry.
They help us to get around these problems and basically save the study of our minds
from the stupidity of our minds. So I hope that it won’t be a spoiler if I tell you now
that pizza won’t make you trip, and coffee doesn’t make you smart. Sorry. [Intro] In most ways psychological research is no
different than any other scientific discipline, like step one is always figuring out how to
ask general questions about your subject and turn them into measurable, testable propositions.
This is called operationalizing your questions. So you know how the scientific method works
— it starts with a question and a theory, and I don’t mean theory in the sense of like,
a hunch that say, a quad-shot of espresso makes you think better. Instead, in science
a theory is what explains and organizes lots of different observations and predicts outcomes.
And when you come up with a testable prediction, that’s your hypothesis. Once your theory and hypothesis are in place,
you need a clear and common language to report them with, so for example, defining exactly
what you mean by “thinking better” with your espresso hypothesis will allow other researchers
to replicate the experiment. And replication is key. You can watch a person exhibit a certain
behavior once, and it won’t prove very much, but if you keep getting consistent results,
even as you change subjects or situations, you’re probably on to something. This is a problem with one popular type of
psychological research: case studies, which take an in-depth look at one individual. Case
studies can sometimes be misleading, because by their nature, they can’t be replicated,
so they run the risk of over-generalizing. Still, they’re good at showing us what CAN
happen, and end up framing questions for more extensive and generalizable studies. They’re
also often memorable and a great story telling device psychologists use to observe and describe
behavior. Like, say the smell of coffee makes Carl suddenly anxious and irritable — that
obviously doesn’t mean that it has that same effect on everyone. In fact, Carl has terrible
memories associated with that smell, and so his case is actually quite rare. Poor Carl.
But you would still have to look at lots of other cases to determine that conclusively. Another popular method of psychological research
is naturalistic observation, where researchers simply watch behavior in a natural environment,
whether that’s chimps poking ant-hills in the jungle, kids clowning in a classroom or
drunk dudes yelling at soccer games. The idea is to let the subjects just do their thing
without trying to manipulate or control the situation. So yeah, basically just spying
on people. Like case studies, naturalistic observations are great at describing behavior,
but they’re very limited in explaining it. Psychologists can also collect behavioral
data using surveys or interviews, asking people to report their opinions and behaviors. Sexuality
researcher Alfred Kinsey famously used this technique when he surveyed thousands of men
and women on their sexual history and published his findings in a pair of revolutionary texts,
Sexual Behavior in the Human Male and Female respectively. Surveys are a great way to access consciously
held attitudes and beliefs, but how to ask the questions can be tricky; subtle word choices
can influence results. For example more forceful words like “ban” or “censor” may elicit different
reactions than “limit” or “not allow”. Asking “Do you believe in space aliens?” is a much
different question than “Do you think that there is intelligent life somewhere else in
the universe?” It’s the same question, but in the first the subject might assume you
mean aliens visiting earth, and making crop circles and abducting people and poking them. And if how you phrase surveys is important,
so is who you ask. I could ask a room full of students at a pacifist club meeting what
they think about arms control, but the result wouldn’t be a representative measure of where
students stand, because there’s a pretty clear sampling bias at work here. To fairly represent
a population, I’d need to get a random sample where all members of the target group, in
this case students, had an equal chance of being selected to answer the question. So once you’ve described behavior with surveys,
case studies, or naturalistic observation, you can start making sense out of it, and
even predict future behavior. One way to do that is to look at one trait or behavior is
related to another, or how they correlate. So let’s get back to my buddy Bob who seems
to think that his refrigerator is actually some kind of time machine that can preserve
food indefinitely. Let’s say that Bob has just tucked into a lunch of questionable leftovers,
pizza that may very well have had a little bit of fungus on it. But he was hungry, and
lazy, and so he doused it in Sriracha. Suddenly, he starts seeing things: green armadillos
with laser beam eyes. From here we could deduce that eating unknown
fungus predicts hallucination, that’s a correlation. But correlation is not causation. Yes, it
makes sense that eating questionable fungus would cause hallucinations, but it’s possible
that Bob was already on the verge of a psychotic episode, and those fuzzy leftovers were actually
benign. Or there could be an entirely different factor involved, like maybe he hadn’t slept
in 72 hours, or had an intense migraine coming on, and one of those factors caused his hallucinations.
It’s tempting to draw conclusions from correlations, but it’s super-important to remember that
correlations predict the possibility of cause-and-effect relationships; they cannot prove them. So we’ve talked about how to describe behavior
without manipulating it and how to make connections and predictions from those findings. But that
can only take you so far; to really get to the bottom of cause-and-effect behaviors,
you’re gonna have to start experimenting. Experiments allow investigators to isolate
different effects by manipulating an independent variable, and keeping all other variables
constant, or as constant as you can. This means that they need at least two groups:
the experimental group, which is gonna get messed with, and the control group, which
is not gonna get messed with. Just as surveys use random samples, experimental
researchers need to randomly assign participants to each group to minimize potential confounding
variables, or outside factors that may skew the results. You don’t want all grumpy teenagers
in one group and all wealthy Japanese surfers in the other; they gotta mingle. Now sometimes one or both groups are not informed
about what’s actually being tested. For example, researchers can test how substances effect
people by comparing their effects to placebos, or inert substances. And often, the researchers
themselves don’t know which group is experimental and which is control, so they don’t unintentionally
influence the results through their own behavior, in which case it’s called, you guessed it,
a double blind procedure. So let’s put these ideas into practice in
our own little experiment. Like all good work, it starts with a question. So the other day
my friend Bernice and I were debating. We were debating caffeine’s effect on the brain.
Personally, she convinced that coffee helps her focus and think better, but I get all
jittery like a caged meerkat and can’t focus on anything. And because we know that overconfidence
can lead you to believe things that are not true, we decided to use some critical thinking. So let’s figure out our question: “Do humans
solve problems faster when given caffeine?” Now we gotta boil that down into a testable
prediction. Remember: keep it clear, simple, and eloquent so that it can be replicated.
“Caffeine makes me smarter” is not a great hypothesis. A better one would be, say, “Adult
humans given caffeine will navigate a maze faster than humans not given caffeine.” The
caffeine dosage is your independent variable, the thing that you can change. So, you’ll
need some coffee. Your result or dependent variable, the thing that depends on the thing
that you can change is going to be the speed at which the subject navigates through this
giant corn maze. Go out on the street, wrangle up a bunch of
different kinds of people and randomly assign them into three different groups. Also at
this point, the American Psychological Association suggests that you acquire everyone’s informed
consent to participate. You don’t want to force anyone to be in your experiment, no
matter how cool you think it is. So the control group gets a placebo, in this
case decaf. Experimental group one gets a low dose of caffeine, which we’ll define at
a 100 milligrams; just an eye opener, like, a cup of coffee’s worth. Experimental group
two gets 500 milligrams, more than a quad shot of espresso dunked in a Red Bull. Once
you dose everyone, turn them lose in the maze and wait at the other end with a stopwatch. All that’s left is to measure your results
from the three different groups and compare them to see if there were any conclusive results.
If the highly dosed folks got through it twice as fast as the low dose and the placebo groups,
then Bernice’s hypothesis was correct, and she can rub my face in it saying she was right
all along, but really that would just be the warm flush of hindsight bias telling her something
she didn’t really know until we tested it. Then, because we’ve used clear language and
defined our parameters, other curious minds can easily replicate this experiment, and
we can eventually pool all the data together and have something solid to say about what
that macchiato was doing to your cognition– or at least the speed at which you can run
through a maze. Science: probably the best tool that you have for understanding other
people. Thanks for watching this episode of Crash
Course Psychology; if you paid attention you learned how to apply the scientific method
to psychological research through case studies, naturalistic observation, surveys, and interviews
and experimentation. You also learned about different kinds of bias in experimentation
and how research practices help us avoid them. Thanks especially to our Subbable subscribers,
who make this and all of Crash Course possible. If you’d like to contribute to help us keep
Crash Course going, and also get awesome perks like an autographed science poster, or even
be animated into an upcoming episode, go to to find out how. Our script was written by Kathleen Yale and
edited by Blake de Pastino and myself. Our consultant is Dr. Ranjit Bhagwat. Our director
and editor is Nicholas Jenkins, our script supervisor is Michael Aranda, who is also
our sound designer, and our graphics team is Thought Café.

100 thoughts on “Psychological Research: Crash Course Psychology #2

  1. The coffee experiment is flawed since IQ,blood sugar and others are strongly correlated as cause which should be considered and excluded in subject variables affecting subject's speed to solve the maze. Simply put, people who participate in the experiment should be tested in an experiment which controls their 24-72h previous food/nutrition intake, their IQ has to be within same range, and no related disease(either psychiatric nor physical, like Alzheimer, epilepsy…) can affect their cognitive function to solve the maze while being tested. OFC for the limited video length, this critique is mainly for the sake of discussion more than a 'critique' per se, I understand perfectly why the example is given to enlighten learners,

  2. If anyone is interested you should look up 'Alfred Kinsey with Green' in his findings…I love this narrator but he is wrong when he said that Kinsey researchers got the results respectively…there's a lot more gruesome tales to those findings…Its an interesting find to say the least. Very intense testimonies from the victims. As most scientists subjects were

    In this video we learn how to apply the scientific method to psychological research. Lots of ways, but today Hank talks about case studies, naturalistic observation, surveys and interviews, and experimentation. Also he covers different kinds of bias in experimentation and how research practices help us avoid them.


    1. The Scientific Method

    Scientific method is about how to ask general questions about your subject and turn them into measureable testable proposition.
    The scientific theory works on a question and a theory, once a testable prediction is reached it is called the hypothesis.
    After a suitable hypothesis is reached an experiment can be conducted for testing the hypothesis.
    2. Case Studies

    This is a type of research which take an in depth look in one individual. They can be sometimes misleading because by their nature they can’t be replicated. They run the risk of over generalising.
    3. Naturalistic Observation

    This is a method where researchers watch behaviour in a natural environment. The idea is to let the subjects do whatever they want without manipulating or control the situation.

    4. Surveys and Interviews

    In this process the people are asked to report their behaviours and reports. Surveys are a great way of getting access to peoples consciously held attitudes and beliefs. There is a sample bias and sample data which is collected and then the results are generated.
    5. Experimentation

    By this method it allows the investigators to isolate different effects by manipulating an independent variable and keeping other variables constant. It contains 2 groups namely the experimental group(which is to be messed with) and control group(which is not going to be messed with).
    6. Proper Research Practices

    Consent of others and proper practices like testing, analysing, predicting and result generation codes are followed for proper prediction of psychological behaviour.

  4. I really like the content but find the presenter's voice so unpleasant that it exhausts me! Please get a presenter with a nicer voice and delivery…

  5. Hey AP Psych 2019! Let’s all boost our self efficacy and say we’ll ACE this test tomorrow, I believe in y’all!!!

  6. My mind is not onto deep vocabularies at the moment when the part of relationship of traits and correlation till the experimentation plays. I am so confused… I still wonder that was the reason why I always failed to understand Practical Research

  7. Thanks for the awesome videos , just one question ; why are you in hurry ? Talking without breathing makes it very difficult for some of us to absorb the your good content . Thanks again.

  8. okay but quick question, could the observation being correct to prediction not be considered a posteriori knowledge? rather than hindsight. it just seemed like you were very conclusive that its more of an i told you so effect.

  9. I ate the hallucinagentic pizza not coffee before the maze. I was out much faster than that. Only to find out, there was no maze. β˜•πŸ•πŸ’—πŸ’œ

  10. There is no psychological classes to take, so I ended up taking notes from these videos to better learn and understand the basics of it. Going to pull an all nighter, and study maths later.

  11. Why didn't I find this one at the beginning of my course….? I could've watch this while the lecture is ongoing.

  12. In bob's case Hallucinogenic fungal matter Is process through Sarah tonin receptors So the fungus from the The pizza itself is process in the stomach and the bloodstream Which is where Sarah tonin Produced and passed around Also wheat Is inflammatory depending on how much we was consumed Inflammation of the brain Or upper back Could also be contributing factors

  13. Go to Google and search for the global truth project and read the
    book named The Present so you will discover all the answers of the big questions of life ⬆️⬆️

  14. OMG I LOVE YOU!!! the way you explain things is just unbelievably helpful! I am taking psych 100 online and this is gold thank you very much !

  15. Pica doesn't make you trip? But how about the casomorphins in it? In theory if you eat enough cheese you should be able to get the same result as from morphine right? Or at least get hooked to it the same amount lol

  16. I'm not doing psychology yet but I'm hoping to do it for A-Level so I'm trying to get ahead of the game lol


  18. I like you exploration in to the scientific method, it was insightful especially for someone like me who likes to use his intuition. To see how this can go horribly wrong. It has encourage me in part with other sources to rethink how i analyse my life.

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