The scientific method is an integral part of learning in most any field. It has been used to learn about nature for centuries, and now it can be applied to all fields. This article will go into detail on how to use this tool to learn more about psychology!
The term scientific comes from the Latin word scientia which means knowledge or understanding. The process we refer to as the scientific method was first formalized by Sir Francis Bacon in his 1620 book New Atlantis. He described it as “a way of proving theories by experimentation and observation”.
Since then, many people have adapted and improved upon his work. What they all share in common is using empirical evidence to prove theories.
That theory could be about anything; you could learn something new by applying the scientific method to psychology.
Steps of the scientific method
The second major pillar of science is the use of the scientific method to gather knowledge or research studies. This process was first formalized in France during the Renaissance, but it has since spread around the world.
The basic principle behind this approach is the systematic observation and analysis of facts. Scientists begin with a hypothesis and then test it by gathering and analyzing data that can either support or disprove the theory.
This process is repeated over and over until a pattern emerges that proves the original hypothesis true. In other words, the scientist comes up with a conclusion based on the evidence.
I’ll give you an example. Let’s say your roommate just moved out because he could not agree on whether there are more men or women in the universe.
You have a different opinion than him, so you decide to do some research and see if anyone else agrees or disagrees.
Examples of the scientific method
The way to get good answers about anything is through questioning!
Ask questions, ask constantly, and listen to the replies!
This goes beyond just asking “why” or “what”, it also includes seeking explanations for things that seem contradictory or odd.
By asking questions, you will gather more information than if you were not!
The best way to learn how to apply the scientific method in your life is by doing so consistently and repeatedly.
Definitions of scientific evidence
Evidence is defined as facts or information that prove or disprove an idea, claim, or hypothesis. A fact can be anecdotal, such as telling someone about your own experiences with something, statistical data, or empirical testing.
Empirical testing refers to experiments conducted in the laboratory or natural settings. For example, if you believe eating chicken will make you healthier, you could conduct an experiment by having a piece of chicken once a week for a month. You would then have to analyze whether there was any difference in nutrition content between the chicken and the next closest option (fish).
If there is no significant difference, then you can conclude that eating chicken is at least as healthy as fish. This would create empirical proof that eating chicken is a good alternative to eating seafood.
Types of scientific evidence
Evidence is categorized into different types depending on how reliable it is. There are five main categories:
Direct proof — this is when we see an effect occur due to manipulation of factors in the experiment, like breaking a leg would be direct proof that you need to know about weight loss.
Indirect proof – these are examples of correlation which means there’s an association between two things. For example, if people who eat fish frequently also live longer than average, then eating more fish may increase your health and life expectancy.
Probabilistic proof – This is when we have no way of knowing whether or not something will happen but we can describe situations where it is very likely to occur, for instance, we know smoking causes death so we can assume that anything that could potentially kill you must do so.
Hypothetical proof- If we knew what caused something to happen in a situation with no exceptions, then we could say with confidence that causing the same thing will bring about the same result.
Definitions of a hypothesis
A hypothesis is an assertion that something happens or does not happen. It can be about anything, like “Does eating red meat cause cancer?” or it can be more specific, like “What kind of pasta sauce should I make?”
In either case, you can test your hypothesis by doing an experiment. For the first example, you could eat half a pound of beef per week for a month and see if there are any changes in health or weight. For the second, you could try making the suspected recipe and seeing what effects it has on your waistline.
By testing your hypotheses, you will know whether to accept or reject them. If you can prove your hypothesis wrong, then you will have data to suggest another conclusion.
Examples of a hypothesis
A good hypothesis will have specifics, such as making a prediction about something or testing a theory by doing an experiment.
A good hypothesis includes what is known as a predictive element. It predicts that! Therefore, it must be able to make a statement about the world around us with certainty.
It can’t be vague or general – it needs to be clearly defined. And you need to test it!
The scientific method comes down to this: take a thing that has never been done before and try to prove whether it works or not. Take your best guess at how it should work and then do an experiment to see if it does.
If it does, great! You proved your hypothesis.
Definition of a theory
A theory is an explanation that explains some phenomenon or phenomena. An example of a theory is the theory of gravity, which states that all matter attracts every other matter out there with a gravitational force.
That means if you place one object next to another, the second object will fall due to the pull of gravity. This article’s title is a theory! The theories in this article use evidence to prove their points. Like how I explained earlier, our scientific method uses reasoning and proofs to establish theories as fact.
So what are some examples of non-theories? Something like “The sun rises up and sets down because we were not awake last night” would be an example of a myth or legend. These are stories that people believe without any proof, it is just assumed to be true.
A myth also does not have to be about science, anything from religion to conspiracy theories are myths. All too often these things lack solid facts and only exist as beliefs.
Examples of a theory
A good theory should have strong supporting evidence to back it up. Evidence can be quantitative, qualitative, empirical, or logical.
The scientific method is an organized process for gathering, analyzing, and effectively using information to prove theories about the world. Scientists use this method to test their current theories against new information to see if they make more sense than what we had before.
If a newer theory makes no differences in predictions then we update our earlier theory!
That is how science works – ever changing theories that are supported by the facts.