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How do you analyze claims?

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Some good things to look at are:

Sample size - If specified by the study, how many people took part in the experiment? The more participants, the better the ecological validity

Ecological validity - How generalisable the results are to the population. Look for things like sample size and if there has been any meta analysis (has the study been applied to more than one culture)

Reliability - The amount of times that the claim has been tested. High reliability comes from many studies reporting the same claim, low reliability comes from many studies not reporting the same claim

The type of experiment - Was this a scientific study, field experiment .etc? i.e. While scientific studies aim to control all variables in order to ensure that the desired psychological characteristic is being tested, this makes the environment in which they take place highly artificial

Correct/Legal definitions - If the study describes people as certain things (i.e. delinquents, deprived) have they defined what this is according to any legal definitions? i.e. A major downfall of Bowlby's work on his theory of maternal deprivation is that he fails to specify whether it is privation or deprivation due to the severity of the results of the maternal deprivation

The year in which the study takes place - Older studies of certain types tend to be less reliable. For instance, with twin studies, older studies often don't take in to account that proper controls have not been in place to keep them separated and thus shared a similar environment making it more difficult to determine the effects of nature and nurture on their psychological characteristics. Furthermore, older studies tend to be more liable to be stereotypically biased

Political agenda - Some studies have been "bumped-up", so to speak, by governments trying to push people towards their own goals. For instance, Bowlby's work at the end of WWII was used to encourage mothers out of their jobs which they had taken during WWII due to the shortage of men so that the returning soldiers could re-take their pre-WWII posts

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