How To Think Straight About Psychology / Edition 8

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Keith Stanovich's widely used and highly acclaimed book helps instructors teach critical-thinking skills within the rich context of psychology. It can be used as a stand-alone text or as a supplement in introductory psychology, critical-thinking, as well as research methods and statistics courses. It is the premier text of its kind.

Stanovich helps students become more discriminating consumers of psychological information by helping them recognize pseudoscience and be able to distinguish it from true psychological research. Psychological topics such as falsifiability, operationalism, experimental control, converging evidence, correlational vs. experimental studies, and statistics are presented as tools for critical evaluation, giving students a set of practical consumer skills to independently evaluate psychological claims. Students also are given a set of “consumer rules” for dealing with psychology in the media.

How to Think Straight About Psychology says what many instructors would like to say about the discipline of psychology but haven't found a way to. That is one reason adopters have called it “an instructor's dream text” and often comment “I wish I had written it. It tells my students just what I want them to hear about psychology.”

New to the eighth edition are expanded discussions of reliability and validity, meta-analysis, and the differences between random sampling versus random assignment.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780205485130
  • Publisher: Allyn & Bacon, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/27/2006
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 8
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.96 (w) x 8.96 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Table of Contents


1. Psychology Is Alive and Well (and Doing Fine among the Sciences)

The Freud Problem

The Diversity of Modern Psychology

Implications of Diversity

Unity in Science

What, Then, Is Science?

Systematic Empiricism

Publicly Verifiable Knowledge: Replication and Peer Review

Empirically Solvable Problems: Scientists’ Search for Testable Theories

Psychology and Folk Wisdom: The Problem with “Common Sense”

Psychology as a Young Science


2. Falsifiability: How to Foil Little Green Men in the Head

Theories and the Falsifiability Criterion

The Theory of Knocking Rhythms

Freud and Falsifiability

The Little Green Men

Not All Confirmations Are Equal

Falsifiability and Folk Wisdom

The Freedom to Admit a Mistake

Thoughts Are Cheap

Errors in Science: Getting Closer to the Truth


3. Operationism and Essentialism: “But, Doctor, What Does It Really Mean?”

Why Scientists Are Not Essentialists

Essentialists Like to Argue About the Meaning of Words

Operationists Link Concepts to Observable Events

Reliability and Validity

Direct and Indirect Operational Definitions

Scientific Concepts Evolve

Operational Definitions in Psychology

Operationism as a Humanizing Force

Essentialist Questions and the Misunderstanding of Psychology

Operationism and the Phrasing of Psychological Questions


4. Testimonials and Case Study Evidence: Placebo Effects and the Amazing Randi

The Place of the Case Study

Why Testimonials Are Worthless: Placebo Effects

The “Vividness” Problem

The Overwhelming Impact of the Single Case

The Amazing Randi: Fighting Fire with Fire

Testimonials Open the Door to Pseudoscience


5. Correlation and Causation: Birth Control by the Toaster Method

The Third-Variable Problem: Goldberger and Pellagra

Why Goldberger’s Evidence Was Better

The Directionality Problem

Selection Bias


6. Getting Things under Control: The Case of Clever Hans

Snow and Cholera

Comparison, Control, and Manipulation

Random Assignment in Conjunction

With Manipulation Defines the True Experiment

The Importance of Control Groups

The Case of Clever Hans, the Wonder Horse

Clever Hans in the 1990s

Prying Variables Apart: Special Conditions

Intuitive Physics

Intuitive Psychology


7. “But It’s Not Real Life!”: The “Artificiality” Criticism and Psychology

Why Natural Isn’t Always Necessary

The “Random Sample” Confusion

The Random Assignment Versus Random Sample Distinction

Theory-Driven Research Versus Direct Applications

Applications of Psychological Theory

The “College Sophomore” Problem

The Real-Life and College Sophomore Problems in Perspective


8. Avoiding the Einstein Syndrome: The Importance of Converging Evidence

The Connectivity Principle

A Consumer’s Rule: Beware of Violations of Connectivity

The “Great-Leap” Model Versus the Gradual-Synthesis Model

Converging Evidence: Progress Despite Flaws

Converging Evidence in Psychology

Scientific Consensus

Methods and the Convergence Principle

The Progression to More Powerful Methods

A Counsel against Despair


9. The Misguided Search for the “Magic Bullet”: The Issue of Multiple Causation

The Concept of Interaction

The Temptation of the Single-Cause Explanation


10. The Achilles’ Heel of Human Cognition: Probabilistic Reasoning

“Person-Who” Statistics

Probabilistic Reasoning and the Misunderstanding of Psychology

Psychological Research on Probabilistic Reasoning

Insufficient Use of Probabilistic Information

Failure to Use Sample Size Information

The Gambler’s Fallacy

A Further Word about Statistics and Probability


11. The Role of Chance in Psychology

The Tendency to Try to Explain Chance Events

Explaining Chance: Illusory Correlation and the Illusion of Control

Chance and Psychology


Personal Coincidences

Accepting Error in Order to Reduce Error: Clinical Versus Actuarial Prediction


12. The Rodney Dangerfield of the Sciences

Psychology’s Image Problem

Psychology and Parapsychology

The Self-Help Literature

Recipe Knowledge

Psychology and Other Disciplines

Our Own Worst Enemies

Isn’t Everyone a Psychologist? Implicit Theories of Behavior

The Source of Resistance to Scientific Psychology

The Final Word



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