Psychologists can study any interesting behavior! This story presents a video and interview with a researcher who studies temper tantrums in young children.
Watch the video associated with the story, listening to the narration provided. The authors are describing the child's behavior at each stage of her short tantrum.
This is an example of observational research, described in Chapter 6.
a) What are the concerns of researchers who conduct observational research? How do you think the Drs. Potegal and Green addressed or controlled for these concerns in their study on tantrums? Specifically, how did they observe and measure tantrum noises without being intrusive?
b) What kind of reliability would be needed? How would you empirically establish this form of reliability?
The story reports that the researchers analyzed audio data from over 100 temper tantrums.
They found that different tantrum sounds had very distinct audio signatures. When the sounds were laid down on a graph, the researchers found that different sounds emerged and faded in a definite pattern. Unsurprisingly, sounds like yelling and screaming usually came together.
"Screaming and yelling and kicking often go together," Potegal said. "Throwing things and pulling and pushing things tend to go together. Combinations of crying, whining, falling to the floor and seeking comfort — and these also hang together."
c) How might researchers have used correlations to discover which sounds "hang together?" Try sketching a scatterplot (or some other kind of graph) that would illustrate the results mentioned above.