• Yena Kim

Updated: Jan 5, 2020


Imagine that you're sitting by yourself in the park. As you're happily soaking up the autumn weather, you discover a dark blue minivan with stick figure family car window stickers: one dad, one mom, three kids, and a small cat.

A guy sitting next to you on the wooden bench suddenly turns to you and says, "Did you know that families that have those family window stickers also have happier kids than families without them?" One of your eyebrows perks up as soon as you hear his words. Seriously? Is that even true?

You hesitantly thank him for giving you this information, and you start walking back home. His claim strikes you as a bit outlandish, but you begin to wonder if there is some truth to it. Sounds like the perfect chance to do some research!

Conducting research is super important in the world of psychology because psychology is a science. Claims about our mind and behavior can be empirically supported through the scientific method. The scientific method is an organized and systematic way to discover how things in the universe work.

It's helpful to know the different ways to conduct research:

  1. Descriptive Research ​focuses on how we describe what is happening. There are two main types of descriptive research:​

  • ​​​​Naturalistic Observation is when you just sit and watch your participants in their natural habitats and never interact with them at all. For example, look for about 20 different families with cars that do have stickers and ones without stickers. Follow the families around all the time but never intervene in their daily activities. As you're writing down notes, you would be trying to get a realistic picture of how having car stickers may be associated with certain behavior of the kids. ​

  • Case Studies are useful when you want to get a detailed picture of one participant or a small group of participants. For example, find a single family that owns a car with family car window stickers. After you interview, get DNA samples, and write careful notes on the kids in that particular family, then you would definitely get a clear picture of the kids. Now, although you may conclude that the kids from that particular family seem to live happy lives, you can never generalize this information to a larger population and say "All kids are happier if their families own cars with stickers!" because it was just ONE family!

  1. Correlational Method is when you try to look for a significant relationship between two variables. This could be done through a survey, naturalistic observation, or a case study. For example, you may find that compared to families that don't have cars with stickers, families that do own cars with those stickers usually have happier kids. However, does this mean that having stickers causes this mysterious increase in happiness in kids? No, you simply found an association.

  2. Experimental Method is the only way for you to find a cause-and-effect relationship. Experiments can be done by randomly assigning participants to different conditions. They can also be divided into laboratory experiments and field experiments​.

So... how should we approach our research question? Could the random guy at the park be right? Well, there's only one way to find out!

#yenakim #research #scientificmethod #descriptiveresearch #naturalisticobservation #casestudy #correlationalmethod #experimentalmethod

  • Abby Flyer

Updated: Jan 5, 2020


Allison is a kindergarten teacher with a problem: She suspects that one of her students, Brett, is a slow learner. When she seats her students, she makes sure to seat Brett next to the other slow learners so that he’s not intimidated by the pace of faster students. When she asks a math question in class and calls on Brett, she’s not surprised when he gets it wrong. Shaking her head, she sighs and says, “It’s okay, I didn’t expect you to get that one.” She makes sure to speak more slowly and in simpler terms when speaking to Brett. After three months of class, she gives all of the students a basic assessment, and she’s not surprised to find that Brett scores near the bottom of the class.

However, what Allison didn’t know is that Brett is of completely average intelligence. Had she given him the assessment at the beginning of the year, he probably would have scored right in the middle of the class. What happened?

Allison’s belief about Brett’s intelligence created a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because she believed that he was a slow learner, she treated him like a slow learner, and because he was treated like a slow learner, Brett became a slow learner, confirming Allison’s initial belief.

But what if Allison had been told at the beginning of the year that Brett was a gifted student? She might then have seated him with the smartest kids in the class, exposed him to more mature vocabulary, and pushed him to keep up with a faster pace, possibly leading him to become a better student!

Self-fulfilling prophecies are proof of how much we can be affected by other’s expectations. They teach us that if we want someone to succeed, we should treat them like we expect them to succeed.

After all, you can do almost anything if someone really believes in you.

#abbyflyer #selffulfillingprophecy #believe #expectations

  • Yena Kim

As we all know, psychology is the scientifc study of behavior and the mind. Psychology is a field that is comprised of many parts, but some of the notable ones include neuroscience and the biological bases of behavior. These areas often have terms and ideas that can quickly get confusing and leave many people feel discouraged.

So if you are a budding scientist who has a special talent for explaing difficult such concepts or theories in unique ways, then we have some news for you.

On Monday, September 14, 2015, the world's first Breakthrough Junior Challenge was announced online. This one-of-a-kind challenge was created by Khan Academy and the Breakthrough Prizes, which is an organization that annually awards leading scientists for their innovative projects.

This is an international competition that any student between the ages of 13 to 18 can enter for a chance to win some mind-blowing prizes. For starters, the grand prize winner gets a... $250,000 college scholarship. The teacher who inspired the winner's project idea also receives $50,000, and the winner's school is awarded a brand new $100,000 science lab for all of the students to enjoy.

What do you have to do in order to win all of these goodies you ask?

All you have to do is to create an original video (of up to 10 minutes) explaining an important, yet complex, concept or theory that only fall under the fields of mathematics, life sciences, or physics.

Now, don't panic. There is a good ol' rubric for contestants to use. Videos have to meet four criteria:

  1. Engagement - Did you effectively capture your audience's attention and leave people wanting more from YOU?

  2. Illumination - Do you provide a clear explanation of your challenging topic?

  3. Difficulty - Did you step out from your elementary-level comfort zone and pick a complex concept?

  4. Creativity - Did you create a video that ultimately sets the standard for how all future educational videos should be made?

Sounds doable but you have less than a month to enter because the contest will accept submissions until 11:59 PM (EST) on October 7, 2015. The lucky winner will also have his or her video broadcasted on national television.

Time to start crackin' on some ideas because things are about to get competitive.

#yenakim #breakthroughjuniorchallenge #contest #mathematics #lifesciences #physics #khanacademy