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Conducting Research in Psychology

Conducting Research in Psychology
Measuring the Weight of Smoke

Fifth Edition

October 2018 | 624 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Conducting Research in Psychology: Measuring the Weight of Smoke provides students an engaging introduction to psychological research by employing humor, stories, and hands-on activities. Through its methodology exercises, learners are encouraged to use their intuition to understand research methods and apply basic research principles to novel problems. Authors Brett W. Pelham and Hart Blanton integrate cutting-edge topics, including implicit biases, measurement controversies, online data collection, and new tools for determining the replicability of a set of research findings. The Fifth Edition broadens its coverage of methodologies to reflect the types of research now conducted by psychologists. Two new chapters accommodate the needs of instructors who incorporate student research projects into their courses.

About the Authors
CHAPTER 1. How Do We Know?
Introduction: What This Text Is About

A Few Quick Tips for Using This Text

Preamble for Chapter 1

A Brief History of Human Knowledge

The Four Canons of Science

Four Ways of Knowing About the World


Study Questions


CHAPTER 2. How Do We Find Out? The Logic, Art, and Ethics of Scientific Discovery
The Logic of Scientific Discovery

The Art of Scientific Discovery

The Ethics of Scientific Discovery


Study Questions


CHAPTER 3. In a Nutshell: An Overview of Psychological Research Methods
A Tale of Two Validities

Three Requirements for Establishing Causality

Experiments: Fulfilling Mill’s Requirements

Passive Observational (Nonexperimental) Research Methods

Trade-Offs Between Internal and External Validity

GAGES: The “Big Five” of Worrisome Confounds

External Validity and the OOPS! Heuristic

Oops! He Did It Again: Maximizing External Validity in the Lab

Gauging GAGES in Archival Studies of Social Cognition


Study Questions

CHAPTER 4. Making It Happen: A Hands-On Guide to a First Research Project
Everybody Dance Now

Step 1: Hypothesis Generation

Step 2: Operationalization (Design)

Step 3: Permission

Step 4: Execution (Data Collection)

Step 5: Calculation (Data Analysis)

Step 6: Communication


Study Questions


CHAPTER 5. Moving From Fact to Truth: Validity, Reliability, and Measurement
Three Strange Stories



Reliability, Validity, and the “More Is Better” Rule

Measurement Scales


Study Questions

CHAPTER 6. Moving From Notions to Numbers: Psychological Measurement
Converting Notions to Numbers: The Two Major Challenges

The Response Translation Phase

Putting It All Together: The EGWA Scale

From Writing Questions to Creating Scales


Study Questions

CHAPTER 7. How Do We Misinterpret? Common Threats to Validity
One Strange and Lucrative Story

People Are Different

People Change

The Process of Studying People Changes People

Moving From Three Threats to Two: Confounds and Artifacts


Study Questions


CHAPTER 8. Nonexperimental Research Designs
Describing the World of a Single Participant: Case Studies

Describing the State of the World at Large: Single-Variable Research

Describing Associations: Multiple-Variable Research

Archival Research

Observational Research

Confounds Can Be Measured, Too!


Study Questions


CHAPTER 9. Experience Carefully Planned: Experimental Research Designs
A Wonderful Method

A Brief History of True Experiments

Strengths of True Experiments

Are True Experiments Realistic?

Is There a Recipe for Experimental Realism?

Trade-Offs Between Internal and External Validity

The “How-Tos” of Laboratory Studies


Study Questions


CHAPTER 10. Experience Carefully Exploited: Quasi-Experimental Research Designs
One Very Old Story

Why Quasi-Experiments?

Kinds of Quasi-Experiments


Patched-Up Designs

When True Experiments and Quasi-Experiments Collide


Study Questions


CHAPTER 11. Choosing the Right Research Design
One Obscure Movie

One-Way Designs

Factorial Designs

Within-Subjects Designs

Mixed-Model Designs


Study Questions


CHAPTER 12. A Brief Course in Statistics
How Numbers and Language Revolutionized Human History

Descriptive Statistics

Inferential Statistics

Things That Go Bump in the Light: Factors That Influence the Results of Significance Tests

The Changing State of the Art: Alternate Perspectives on Statistical Hypothesis Testing


Study Questions


CHAPTER 13. Telling the World About It
The Hourglass Approach to Empirical Research Papers

Some Rules to Writing Research Papers

How to Give a Good Talk in Psychology (by Daniel T. Gilbert)

Have a Plan

Tell the Plan

Start at the Beginning

Be Painfully Clear

Talk About One Interesting Thing

Take Charge of the Interaction

End at the End


Study Questions

Appendix 1: Hands-On Activities
Hands-On Activity 1: Galileo’s Dice

Hands-On Activity 2: Regression Toward the Mean

Hands-On Activity 3: A Double-Blind Taste Test With Popular Colas

Hands-On Activity 4: The Stroop Interference Effect

Appendix 2: Methodology Exercises
Methodology Exercise 1: Partial Correlation

Methodology Exercise 2: Random Assignment

Methodology Exercise 3: Interactions

Methodology Exercise 4: Repeated Measures Designs


Appendix 3: Putting Your Knowledge to Work: 25 Methodology Problems
1. In Search of a Delicious, Low-Fat TV Show

2. Let’s Get Supernatural

3. Fly Away Home

4. Impressive Pickup Lines

5. Clever Who?

6. Life Sucks and So You Die

7. On the Drawbacks of Liking Yourself

8. The Early Bird Gets the Win?

9. Testosterone Makes Better Dive-Bombers

10. Working Your Fingers to the Dean’s List

11. To Thine Own Selves Be True

12. A Rosy Mood by Any Other Name?

13. EPSCOR: Do Fractions Have Denominators?

14. Sampling Student Opinion

15. Are You the Favorite Person of Anybody?

16. He May Be Small but He’s Slow

17. Everyone’s a Winner

18. Can a Couple of Beers Really Go Straight to Your Belly?

19. What’s in a Name?

20. Are You Threatening Me?

21.Genes, Schmenes

22. Do Car Thieves Really Love Old Hondas?

23. An Unbiased Assessment?

24. Mary, Mary, Quite the Centenarian?

25. Register on Time (The 11:59 Initiative)

Appendix 4: An Example of an APA-Style Research Paper: Ethnicity and the Risk of Unwarranted Cesarean Birth in the United States
Name Index
Subject Index


Student Study Site

The open-access Student Study Site includes author-created, mobile-friendly web quizzes that allow students to independently assess their progress in learning course material.

Instructor Resource Site

The password-protected Instructor Resource Site offers an author-created Instructor’s Manual that includes the following for each chapter in the book.

  • An introductory Preface with teaching tips from the authors
  • Multiple choice test questions with pre-written options as well as the opportunity to edit any question and/or insert personalized questions to assess students’ progress and understanding
  • Chapter summaries to help prepare for lectures and class discussions
  • Suggested answers to Study Questions that appear at the end of each chapter in the textbook
  • Sample course syllabi for semester and quarter courses
  • Appendices:
    • Answers to the Hands-On Activities from Appendix 1 of the textbook
    • Answers to Methodology Exercises in Appendix 2 of the textbook
    • Answers to Methodology Problems in Appendix 3 of the textbook

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

For instructors

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