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  • 00:00

    [MUSIC PLAYING][ShortCuts TV, making life easier][Usefulness of Research]

  • 00:11

    HARRIET CARMICHAEL: Do you ever wonderwhy some people claim to see the face of Jesus in their toast?Did you know that night-owl typeswho prefer to stay up late are morelikely to be psychopathic and manipulative than early risers?Well, both of these questions have beenresearched by psychologists.And you may be wondering why?

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    HARRIET CARMICHAEL [continued]: What possible use is research like that?Well, this is what we're looking at here,the usefulness of psychological research and how you assess it.

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    DR. STEVE TAYLOR: So how useful is this to you as a student?Well, you might get the direct questionon the usefulness of research.But more important, it's one of those transferable skillsyou can bring in to evaluate a study or an approach.

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    HARRIET CARMICHAEL: Now, this is obviously a very wide topic,as almost any research could be useful.So it's very important to narrow it down to key pointswith specific examples.And that's what we're going to do here.

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    DR. STEVE TAYLOR: So first, we could evaluate the usefulnessto psychology.So if considering a psychological theoryor approach, we can ask about its explanatory power.Does it have solid evidence to support it?And does it generate testable predictionsfor further research?For example, Freud's theories of the role of the unconscious

  • 01:31

    DR. STEVE TAYLOR [continued]: seemed to offer a whole new way of explaining behavior.And it had a massive influence on psychology,especially with the development ofthe psychoanalytic perspective.However, many psychologists today,particularly biological psychologists,are more skeptical about the usefulness of Freud's theory.They argue that while it seems to have

  • 01:52

    DR. STEVE TAYLOR [continued]: massive explanatory power, experimental evidencefor the unconscious is very limited,and it has little predictive power.By comparison, more recent biologicaland cognitive psychology models are scientifically testable.For example, the Bruce-Young model of face recognitionmade certain predictions, which can be validated or falsified.

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    DR. STEVE TAYLOR [continued]: So theories and approaches are onlyas good as the evidence for them,which brings us to the next point, the usefulnessof specific studies.

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    SPEAKER: Well, first, a research studymight provide important evidence to support or illustratea theory or model.For example, Bandura's famous Bobo doll experimentsprovided quite a powerful demonstrationof social learning theory.A research study can also be very usefulif it questions, modifies, or helps to develop a theory

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    SPEAKER [continued]: or approach.For example, Samuel and Bryant's researchon young children's cognitive developmentshowed that aspects of Piaget's theory of conservationwere not valid and needed to be modifiedin the light of the new research.A research study can also be usefulif it refutes the theory.And here, don't forget Popper's argument of something

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    SPEAKER [continued]: being scientific because it can be refuted.And also, to be useful, a study shouldhave a good design, validity, and if possible,replication by other researchers.

  • 03:21

    HARRIET CARMICHAEL: OK, so one criteriafor evaluating the usefulness of researchis its value to the development of psychology.

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    DR. STEVE TAYLOR: A second criterion of usefulnessis the researcher's practical applications of value.Have people been helped by this research?Has it improved the quality of people's lives in some way?

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    SPEAKER: And a good way of doing thisis to look at some key areas of applied psychology.So let's take clinical psychology.Psychological research into autism, for example,has led to the development of cognitive behavioral therapiesthat can help autistic children challenge negative thoughtsand improve coping skills.

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    SPEAKER [continued]: In forensic psychology, research into eyewitness testimonyby Elizabeth Loftus and others has demonstratedhow unreliable eyewitness evidence can beand has led to it being used more cautiously in court.And in occupational psychology, researchinto circadian sleep or wake cycles in the United States

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    SPEAKER [continued]: has resulted in longer rotating shift patterns, whichproduce both greater efficiency and better health for workers.

  • 04:32

    DR. STEVE TAYLOR: And finally, don'tforget to bring in the question, useful for whom?Because research that can be usefulfor some can be counterproductive for others.For example, Elizabeth Loftus's lost in the mall,false memory experiments underminethe idea of recovered memory.Now, this was very useful for thosewho've been convicted and put in prison by the evidence.

  • 04:54

    DR. STEVE TAYLOR [continued]: But it wasn't so useful for the therapists and lawyerswho had been making lots of money from it.

  • 04:59

    HARRIET CARMICHAEL: And don't knock the studieswe looked at the start.Both were prizewinning.Looking at images like this might justcontribute to our understanding of face recognition.

  • 05:12

    DR. STEVE TAYLOR: And looking at night owlsmight just help psychologists to understandone of the evolutionary bases of personality traits.[MUSIC PLAYING]

Video Info

Series Name: Issues in Psychology

Publisher: ShortCutstv

Publication Year: 2017

Video Type:Tutorial

Methods: Practitioner research, Research impact

Keywords: applied psychology; clinical psychology; forensic psychology; occupational psychology

Segment Info

Segment Num.: 1

Persons Discussed:

Events Discussed:



Evaluating whether certain research provides evidence, practical applications of value, or the development of theories determines its usefulness to the field of psychology.

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Usefulness of Research

Evaluating whether certain research provides evidence, practical applications of value, or the development of theories determines its usefulness to the field of psychology.

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