Science encompasses the systematic study of the structure and behaviour the the physical and natural civilization through observation and also experiment, and technology is the applications of scientific expertise for helpful purposes. Oxford Reference provides an ext than 210,000 concise definitions and also in-depth, professional encyclopedic entries top top the wide range of subjects within these broad disciplines.

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Our coverage comprises authoritative, highly obtainable information on the very latest terminology, concepts, theories, techniques, people, and organizations relating to all areas of science and also technology—from astronomy, engineering, physics, computer science, and mathematics, to life and also earth sciences, chemistry, ecological science, biology, and psychology. Created by trusted specialists for researcher at every level, entries room complemented by illustrative heat drawings, equations, and also charts wherever useful.

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Featured author

Andrew M. Colman


Andrew M. Colman is the author of A dictionary of Psychology (4th edn). He is Professor of Psychology at the university of Leicester and a fellow of the British mental Society. That graduated v a BA (Hons) and also an MA in Psychology native the university of Cape Town and also a doctor from Rhodes University. He is an writer of countless journal articles and also several books, consisting of Facts, Fallacies and Frauds in Psychology, What is Psychology? (3rd edn), Game Theory and its application in the Social and also Biological Sciences (2nd edn), and also (with Briony D. Pulford), A Crash food in SPSS for Windows (4th edn). The edited the two-volume Companion Encyclopedia that Psychology and also the 12-volume Longman vital Psychology series.

Author Q&A

What is the one term or principle that everyone—from students to day-to-day web users—should be familiar with? Why?

I wish that everyone interpreted the scientific method, and in particular the distinctive importance that the managed experiment as a technique of clinical discovery. Youngsters should be taught at school what an experiment is and why the is together a powerful means of learning the truth. Psychology uses miscellaneous research methods, yet the most an effective is undoubtedly managed experimentation, not because it is much more objective or specific than other methods, but due to the fact that it is uniquely qualified of providing proof of causal effects.

The specifying features of one experiment space manipulation that a conjectured causal factor, dubbed an elevation variable since it is manipulated individually of various other variables, and also examination of the impact of this top top a dependent variable, while simultaneously managing all other extraneous variables that can otherwise influence the dependent variable. In psychological experiments, extraneous variables have the right to seldom be regulated directly, partly because people different from one an additional in methods that affect their behaviour. You may think it’s difficult to manage for all individual differences and other extraneous variables, yet in fact there is a impressive solution to this problem.

In 1926, the brothers statistician Ronald Fisher found a powerful technique of control called randomization. By assigning topics or participants come an speculative group and a manage group strictly in ~ random, and also then treating the two teams identically apart from the manipulated independent variable (applied come the speculative group only), an experimenter deserve to control, in ~ a single stroke, for every individual differences and also other extraneous variables, including ones the no one has also considered. Randomization does not guarantee that the two groups will it is in identical however rather that any type of differences in between the teams will follow exactly the known laws the probability.

This describes the objective and role of statistical significance tests in psychology. For any kind of observed difference, a significance test enables a researcher to calculate the probability the a distinction at least as large as the it was observed difference might occur by possibility alone. The researcher climate knows what the probability is of such a huge difference under the null hypothesis – the working hypothesis the the elevation variable has no effect. If the probability under the null hypothesis is sufficiently little (by convention, usually less than 5 per cent, regularly written ns illusory correlation, an ext sceptical around merely anecdotal evidence, and also capable the interpreting findings from any kind of survey research, instance study, correlational study, observational study, or quasi-experiment with suitable caution.

What do you think is the most frequently held misunderstanding in your subject area?

Although i can’t prove that it’s the many common, the most fashionable ofradiation is the presumption that phenomena the behaviour and mental endure – the subject-matter the psychology – have the right to be understood and explained specifically in terms of neural mechanisms. That is sustained by the increasingly renowned doctrine the neuroscience deserve to in rule replace timeless psychology, that it is currently replacing timeless psychology, or (in its the strongest form) the it has already replaced timeless psychology. This is a debilitating type of reductionism, based on the assumption that behaviour and mental experience are very closely correlated with neural processes, especially in the brain; yet locating a device in the mind does not amount come explaining the associated psychological phenomenon, as I deserve to easily display with a Gedankenexperiment (thought experiment) and an example from nature.

First, imagine a super-intelligent alien trying to recognize a working computer system busy printing out my Dictionary that Psychology top top a laser printer. By merely investigating the physical mechanism of the computer and also the printer, it would never recognize what the computer system was actually doing; or at the very least its explanation would lack what is many important and also interesting around the computer’s behaviour.

Second, purposeful plot can happen naturally without any kind of involvement the neural mechanisms. For example, the unicellular paramecium, uncovered abundantly in stagnant ponds, move about, avoids obstacles by swim round them, gathers food, and also retreats native danger. It deserve to turn round in a glass tube to escape, and it can also learn from experience, although some neuroscientists unsurprisingly question whether this is true learning. However a paramecium has actually no worried system, and also its solitary cell is not also a neuron; therefore, it gives conclusive proof that neuroscience cannot define all develops of behaviour.

In your opinion, i m sorry is the most fascinating entrance in your dictionary and also why?

Being asked to choose the many fascinating entry is like being asked to choose one’s favourite child, and also I won’t execute it. I uncover thousands the the entries fascinating, but the entry specifying heuristic, in addition to the various details heuristics cross-referenced indigenous it, describes ideas that have actually fascinated rather sufficiently to be rewarded with the just two Nobel prizes ever awarded because that purely emotional research. A heuristic is a rough-and-ready procedure or dominion of ignorance for do a decision, developing a judgement, or resolving a problem, and we all use heuristics all the time. The united state researcher Herbert Simon presented the term in its modern psychological sense in 1957 to explain how person decision machines with bounded rationality solve problems when they execute not have actually the time or resources to examine all easily accessible possibilities thoroughly, and he obtained the first Nobel Prize because that this work. Two decades later, the Israeli-American psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman discovered and investigated experimentally a large number that biases in person thinking that deserve to be traced to details heuristics, and also in 2002 Kahneman was rewarded for this occupational with the 2nd Nobel Prize, Tversky having died a few years earlier.

A usual example is the conjunction fallacy: undergraduate college student were presented personality sketches that a theoretical person called Linda (young, single, deeply concerned about social issues, and also involved in anti-nuclear activity) and also asked whether it was more probable the Linda was a bank teller or the Linda to be a bank teller that was active in the feminist movement. No fewer 보다 86% that the students judged it much more probable that that Linda to be a bank teller that was energetic in the feminist movement, back the probability of a conjunction A and also B deserve to never be greater than the probability the A. The fallacy arises from the use of the representativeness heuristic, according to which human being estimate the probability that something belongs to a particular class by judging how usual it is of the class. Because Linda seems more typical of feminist financial institution tellers than of financial institution tellers in general, many world fall right into the associate fallacy in this example.

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