Video:Overview of Experimental Psychologywith Dr. Richard Catrambone
Experimental psychology is practiced by psychologists who share a strong belief in the scientific method. Learn more about experimental psychology with this brief overview.See Transcript
Transcript:Overview of Experimental Psychology
Hi I'm Dr. Richard Catrambone for About.com and I want to talk to you about experimental psychology.
What Is Experimental Psychology
Experimental psychologists are a broad range of psychologists and what we all share is a strong belief in the scientific method. The idea that you would pose a hypothesis and that you would come up with clear, testable methods for addressing that hypothesis. Research topics can range from people who are interested in studying the behavior of animals like rats and pigeons, to studying the behavior of people in a variety of circumstances.
Key Methods of Experimental Psychology
Key methods are belief in careful experimental design. Generally, speaking you’ll identify one or more independent variables that you want to manipulate and you will then decide ahead of time what sort of behaviors ranging from overt physical behaviors to verbal behaviors to emotions that people might make as being some of the key dependent variables. So it could range from people reading something on a piece of paper and making responses to it, it could be people interacting with a computer and responding to different stimuli that are on the computer screen, it could be rats running through mazes, it could be a whole variety of things.
Roots of Experimental Psychology
Experimental psychology has its roots in several disciplines -- its philosophical underpinnings come from how do we know about the world, how can we know where knowledge comes from. Early psychologists thought you could know this from introspection and sit back and observe while someone performs various tasks. And over time became the belief that behavior had to be studied more seriously and that it could be studied in a rigorous and academic way.
Important Experimental Psychologists
Experimental psychology has its roots in several disciplines including philosophy and biology and several other disciplines. It’s philosophical underpinnings come from, or stem from the issue of how do we know about the world how can we know where knowledge comes from how we develop it, how we use it, how we change it.
There were philosophical traditions that believed that you could do this through introspection. Sort of sit back and try to imagine, try to report what someone is thinking while they try to do various tasks. And over time came the belief that we really had to study people’s behavior more seriously try to take behavior as a primary type of data. And over time that’s expanded to the idea of being able to study people’s mental life but being able to do it in a very rigorous and systematic way.
People, going back into the early 1900s Wilhelm Wundt and other people, sort of provided an impetus for this area. But there’s been a long series of names, probably some of the more famous ones being people like B. F. Skinner. But there are people who even sort of predated him a bit but he’s probably an important name in the early days.
So that was a brief overview of experimental psychology. For more information, visit About.com.