Research Methods

Ways of Knowing

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Example of the way of knowing
Limitations to this way of knowing
Tenacity or Intuition People are comfortable with a belief and are unwilling to abandon it in the face of contrary evidence. Different people can hold different, contradictory views. They can't all be right.
Authority


Your parents tell you that if you don’t wear your coat, you will get sick.
Authority figures are not always right. They may have areas in which they are usually correct, but they aren’t infallible.
A Priori Method or Logic People will not knowingly ingest poisons. People know that tobacco contains nicotine, which is a poison. Therefore, they will not smoke.
People’s behaviors may show a degree of consistency, or internal logic, but that logic is not always apparent from the outside. Rather than acting on the basis of logic, people use “psycho-logic”; that is, our behavior is determined by psychological factors, not strictly logical factors.
Experience You eat something, then get sick. You don’t know it, but you were coming down with something. You avoid that food in the future because the thought of eating it turn your stomach. The negative experience is an isolated event and may never happen again. The effect of the food is not general but your very negative experience affects your behavior.

Scientific Method Students learn better when they spread their studying out over time, rather than simply cramming in one long session. Scientific approaches are limited to domains where relevant ideas can be quantified and objectively observed. Further, there is always uncertainty in measurement, even though we can build up confidence in our measurements over time.

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Modified August 2, 2005