2.1: The Beauty and Necessity of Good Research Design
The game of Ouija has players controlling the movements of the little pointer without even realizing it.
Proponents of facilitating Ruling Out Rival Hypotheses communication neglected to consider this rival hypothesis for its apparent effects.
This story is an example of the triumph of science over pseudoscience.
Science has helped practitioners who work with people with autism to avoid wasting time on interventions that are not beneficial.
Scientists have been able to develop and test treatments for the disorder.
As we'll discover later in the text, rigorous research by psychologists has helped them to design and evaluate interventions that genuinely permit individuals with autism to communicate more effectively, as well as to improve their social and problem-solving skills.
These techniques aren't magic or quick fixes, but they offer real hope to afflicted individuals and their loved ones.
Their naive realism led them to see the children's connecting the frontal lobes of the abuse allegations with their own eyes, and their confirmation bias.
They were victims of a cruel illusion.
We will learn what research designs are in this chapter.
We will learn how the brain's frontal lobes can help us to avoid being deceived and to better evaluate claims.
Let's look at a sad example.
The neural fibers that connect the brain's frontal lobes to the underlying thalamus were severed by surgeons using this technique.
Most of the 50,000 Americans who received prefrontal lobotomies were done in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Some people are still alive.
Egas Moniz, a Portuguese neurosurgeon, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1949 for his work on the breakthrough of the prefrontal lobotomy.
As in the case of facilitation communication, stunning reports were based on subjective clinical descriptions.
One famed physician who performed approximately 5,000 lobotomies, Walter Freeman, proudly proclaimed, "I am a sensitive observer, and my conclusion is that a vast majority of my patients get better as opposed to worse after my treatment."
Proponents of facilitation communication didn't conduct systematic research.
They assumed that the informal observations they made about the treatment worked.
There are serious psychological disorders caused by infections.
They found that the effectiveness of prefrontal lobotomy was useless.
The operation produced radical changes in behavior, but it didn't target the specific behaviors associated with schizophrenia, such as hearing voices or holding persecutory beliefs.
Extreme apathy was one of the problems created by lobotomies.
The advocates were deceived again by naive realism and confirmation bias.
The prefrontal lobotomy is a relic of an earlier era of mental health treatment.
This procedure has been replaced by medications and other interventions that have a better understanding of science.
Hundreds of thousands of individuals with serious mental illnesses have been allowed to attain a semblance of normal everyday functioning thanks to these treatments.
Some of you may be feeling a bit defensive.
The authors of your text may be suggesting that many people can be fooled.
Most mistaken thinking is cut from the same cloth as useful thinking.
To understand how and why we can all be fooled, it's helpful to introduce the two modes of thinking.
Daniel Kahneman refers to these types of snap judgments as System 1 thinking, but we'll call it "intuitive" thinking.
It doesn't require much mental effort.
Our brains are mostly on autopilot when we're in intuitive thinking mode.
We engage in intuitive thinking when we meet someone new and form an immediate first impression, or when we see an oncoming car and decide that we need to get out of the way.
Without intuitive thinking, we'd all be in serious trouble.
There is a second mode of thinking.
System 2 thinking is called System 2 thinking, but we'll call it "analytical" thinking.
Analytical thinking is slow and reflective.
It requires mental effort.
When we're trying to reason through a problem or figure out a complicated concept in an introductory psychology textbook, we engage in analytical thinking.
It's true, but we wish it were fiction.
Cotton and many of his peers believed that his procedures were effective.
They relied on their subjective judgments of patient improvement to draw this conclusion.
When you meet someone at a party you initially dislike because of a negative expression on his face, you can change your mind after talking to him and realizing that he's not such a bad person.
When we acquire skills, we start with analytical thinking and progress to intuitive thinking.
Learning to drive a car is a mentally demanding experience.
I should check my blind spot, there's another car about 50 feet in front of me.
We're in analytical thinking.
Our decisions come to us with little mental effort as our driving becomes more automatic.
We will be able to drive to work or school and barely remember doing so.
Our intuitive mode of thinking works well most of the time.
This is an example from research.
If you're like most people, you'll be surprised to learn that Germans are more likely to get the right answer than Americans.
Most Germans haven't heard of San Antonio.
They default to their intuitive thinking.
"When I've heard of a city, I'll assume it's larger in population than a city I've thought of in our everyday lives."
This is a mental shortcut that works more often than not.
Judgements such as swerving to avoid many got the question wrong because the Americans had not heard of both cities.
When we solve a math problem, intuitive thinking can sometimes lead us to make and reflect.
You are in Reno, Nevada.
If you don't believe us, look at Would You Travel to Get from Reno, Nevada, Figure 2.3.
If you didn't guess southeast, you almost certainly relied on intuitive thinking.
We were tripped up in San Francisco.
If we're not careful, they can lead us to make errors.
The good news is that research designs can help us avoid pitfalls that can result from an overreliance on intuitive thinking and an uncritical use of Long Beach heuristics.