Read the following scenarios and answer the reflection questions that follow.
Jennifer: “I don’t see why we have to learn statistics and research methods! I am never going to use them anyway. I want to be a counselor and I am just going to deal with each person as an individual. Science treats everyone as if they are interchangeable and totally predictable. In fact, I think people would be better counselors and teachers and social workers if they didn’t take research classes at all, because then they would treat everyone as individuals, not clones.”
Bethany: “People are a lot more predictable than you think. Psychologists have learned so much about human behavior in the last hundred years or so using the scientific method. I really believe that if you can figure out all the factors that are affecting someone’s behavior, you can be pretty accurate in figuring out what they are going to do. I’ve decided that I want to be a researcher, because I think I can help more people in the long run than you will as a therapist. As a researcher, I can develop programs that will help a lot of people who suffer from the same problem. A therapist can only help one person at a time, and sometimes it takes years for a person to get better.”
a. How do Jennifer and Bethany differ in their understanding of what people are like? With whom do you agree more, and why?
b. What is ethically troubling about taking Jennifer’s position to the extreme? What would happen if therapists received no training in the scientific study of human behavior?
c. What is ethically troubling about taking Bethany’s position to the extreme? What is the problem with assuming that if you can figure out all the variables (genes, environment, etc.) you can perfectly predict people’s behavior?
c. Keeping in mind that she never gave any false information to anyone who purchased her treatment program, do you think Dr. Franklin should give the therapists who purchased her program a refund of their money? Why or why not?
c. What are some possible negative consequences that might result if Karen tells Dr. Tarner but they agree not to report the mistake to the journal editor?
a. Why is it risky for Beverly to make up the data?
b. What would you choose to do if you were in Beverly’s place? Explain.
5. As part of their class requirements, the students in Dr. Taylor’s Research Design and Analysis class are sent over to Trumbull Mall to observe interactions between mothers and their toddler-aged children. They are told not to interact with the moms at all, but just record certain behaviors, like the number of times they speak harshly to their children and the number of times the children whine or cry.
One of the mothers notices that the students are watching people and complains to mall security. The manager of the mall asks the students where they are from, then writes a letter of complaint to Dr. Taylor. Here is an excerpt:
”I am requesting that you do not engage in any more observational research at Trumbull Mall. I don’t think it is right to allow students to observe people’s behavior without getting their permission first. It is a violation of privacy and is wrong even if they don’t realize they are being watched. People come to the mall to shop, not to be watched.”
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