Are there benefits to gaining a strong statistical background?

Psychology without statistics is nothing, whereas statistics has always been misunderstood as a form of maths which it is no longer the case. Statistics is an very important key to the world of science. Other than psychology, many other science based subjects would need statistics as their backbone based information, for example medicine, chemistry and space science, these subjects would require an in-depth data in order to pursuit further discoveries or experiments, therefore, by having a precise, reliable, representable statistical data will benefit science based subjects.

In order to fully understand the result of a psychological research or even normal research, the knowledge or background of statistics is very essential. For instances, the famous procedure, The Strange Situation* which looked into attachment between infants and caregivers which found a big portion(~70%) of the infants were securely attached to their mum(or caregiver), and ~30% of infants were insecurely attached(contains 2 types: resistant and avoidant). However, it was done with 100 American middle-class families. To entirely comprehend it, other than look at the % it produced, the sample size and the background of data would need to take into account,  therefore the result might be different or could not represent the general population if any of the factors such as the cultural, economical status and ethic group have changed.

In the world of business, many commercial advertising would often “cheat” with their data in order to attract people to buy and try their products and unsurprisingly it is very often to see on billboards for something like 75% users would recommend this to a friend. However there would also be a small print at the bottom of the advert or at the end of the advert suggesting that there were only 60 participants took part in the sample survey. If the viewers did not pay any attention to these kind of adverts, they might consume the product based on the “statistic” provided by the advert. As there were only 60 participants who took on the survey, 75% of 60 participants is 45 participants, and comparing this statistics to the real world, it is really insignificant, hence the results obtained is not representable, reliable thus it is not a valid result.

In conclusion, being confident at statistics as a psychology students or as an individual, would certainly be an advantage, and researches would benefit from having a reliable, representable, statistical data by drawing out the conclusion clearly and confidently and thus would be supportive to the research.

* By Mary Ainsworth at 1970s.
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5 Responses to Are there benefits to gaining a strong statistical background?

  1. psucb9 says:

    Hello, i really enjoyed reading your blog entry about statistical backgrounds 🙂
    I thought it was very clever to bring in psychological research in the second paragraph and thought it was more interesting than some other approaches Ive seen. One criticism would be that i didnt find it was explained fully as i understood what you were saying however i think it needed to be linked back to the title question.
    The paragraph about advertisements did just that as you linked it to the question, however to improve it, you could have posted a link to an example advertisement that doesnt use statistics properly.
    looking forward to reading your next blog 🙂

  2. rgjblog says:

    Hi, Just read your blog and really enjoyed it. I liked how you incorporated Mary Ainsworth’s strange situation study into how statistics can be useful, but also how they can be misinterpreted or be of no use at all, if the research population changes.
    With you points on how advertising can be misleading a link here, (like the you tube link for the strange situation) would have been great. I look forward to reading you next blog!

  3. re3ecca says:

    I enjoyed reading your blog and will be following you so i can read the next one. However, I disagree with your first statement that psychology without statistics is nothing: early psychologists such as Freud, who used pretty much no statistics, did contribute a lot to psychology even though a lot of his theories are discredited. I think since psychology is about understanding human behaviour, many people are capable of doing this implicitly, just through observation and without any psychological background. Who are we to say that that isn’t psychology just because their aren’t any statistics? I agree that use of statistics lends more credibility to psychology but that doesn’t necessarily mean absence of statistics makes the observations or findings less valid. and isn’t validity what we are searching for after all? That’s my opinion anyway. I’m open for debate! Looking forwards to your next blog!

  4. suedonym344 says:

    Overall I feel you have a very valid point which is explained well with relevant examples.
    However your post puts too much emphasis on the importance of statistics within psychology..

    as you say..
    “Psychology without statistics is nothing”.

    Psychology ≠ Statistics and to assume so neglects large parts of it’s past and present. A lot of valid and important qualitative research has been conducted within psychology. For example John Money’s study of David Reimer and Russ Rhymer’s case study of Genie(feral child). Such behaviour does not benefit from being studied in a conventional lab experiment. Cases such as this are rare and delicate in their nature, thus are best studied at a personal level. As a result research often cannot be statistically analysed as it does not produce numerical data . Hopefully this has shown that there is much more to psychology than just statistical research.

    I look forward to reading future posts, Sorry to hear about this week blog.. Unlucky 😦

  5. danshephard says:

    I was very impressed by your blog as it flowed from point to point with evidence and a clear understanding of what you wanted to say. The conclusion clearly summed up your point of view and the video at the end was a great way to make it that more interesting. However staring off the blog by saying “Psychology without statistics is nothing” is a statement that I would have to disagree with. This is down to the fact that while having a statistics background when conducting quantitative experiments is extremely important, when conducting qualitative experiments it is far less useful. This is due in apart to the fact that qualative data explains behaviour in a literal terms such as a description rather than numerical. Additionally I think you could have expanded on the positive points about statistics such as the ability to put information into charts and graphs so it is easier for people to understand.

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