1. Provide definitions for the terms hypothesis, independent variable, dependent variable, and confound. Discuss how you could use a control group and randomization to ensure that the results of an experiment are accurate.
Hypothesis is a scientifically reasonable assumption about the causes and the relationships of any events or developments of nature, society and thought. The identification of the hypothesis can be made through the following features: it is a necessary form of any cognitive process, and it forms the link between the previously achieved knowledge and the new facts. The construction of a hypothesis must be accompanied by extension assumptions. These assumptions are based on the consideration of the material and repeated observations.
In general, the variable in the psychological experiment is the reality the changes of which can be measured or recorded in any way. There are such types of variables: independent variables, dependent variables, side variables, additional variables, and confound variables. The independent variable consists in the experimental impact and the experimental factor, and is actively changed by the researcher. The dependent variable is a variable (any psychic phenomenon, characteristic), which addresses changes as a consequence of the changes in the experimental exposure. It is recognized as the reaction or response to experimental effects. Independent and dependent variables as well as their relations are the part of an experimental hypothesis. The variable that compounds the features of non-dependent and dependent variables is called confound.
Properly planned experiment includes not only the main group, which carried out the test intervention, but also the control group. The latter provides a baseline, which helps to define whether improvement or worsening of the effects of experimental exposure improve or worsen the abilities or features of experimental group. The usage of a control group allows to eliminate some of the most important threats to the validity of the experiment. These threats include interaction of test results, reactive impact of the situation, and irrelevant measurement data.
The random distribution of individuals in groups is the classic procedure for achieving indistinguishable groups. The individuals are randomly dispensed into groups which makes the differences between the groups as small as possible. More importantly, such differences have to be accidental and not deliberate on all grounds. Randomization is important because it equalizes the baseline characteristics (features of character that can play role in the experiment) of the patients, making a comparison of treatment options legitimate (Viera & Banqdiwala, 2007, p.133).
2. Describe the characteristics and causes of borderline personality disorder, and discuss possible treatment approaches and their efficacy.
Borderline personality disorder can be defines as a kind of mental illness that results in the mood swings, impulsive behavior and serious problems with relationships and self-esteem. People with this particular issue have difficulties with choosing their own path in life. Moreover, they are characterized by uncertainty as to their identity, which does not have a clear core. They have a high degree of impulsivity which often leads to the behavior ultimately causing a lot of damage. In addition to the above mentioned, several problems often accompany this disturbance, such as depression, eating disorders and even substance abuse (National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), n.d.). Another common characteristic of the discussed issue is the fear of being left alone (abandoned), even if this threat is not real. It can lead to violent attempts to hold on to those surrounding a person, and may be the reason for one to become too dependent on others. Furthermore, such eccentric behavior may lead to a problematic relationship in every area of human’s life. The lack of sufficient attention in childhood often contributes to the development of a borderline personality disorder resulting in a need for intensive care and affection, acute experience of loneliness. As a rule, the therapy is effective for most patients, particularly when using cognitive-behavioral approach (NIMH, n.d.). The purpose of the therapist is to assist people in learning how to get an idea about the plans of others. Medications such as antidepressants are often effective, either alone or in combination with psychotherapy. Sometimes, there is a need to use antipsychotic drugs in cases of distorted thinking patterns. What is more, the treatment of borderline personality disorder involves discussion and reconsideration of the existing problems, development of skills of control over emotions and behavior, improving social skills, as well as formation of the protective mechanisms that help to experience anxiety and stress. The treatment plan is accommodated to the features of character, personality and the level of compensation for a particular patient, and includes individual therapy and group lessons.
3. Describe some of the "positive" and "negative" symptoms of schizophrenia. Explain what is meant by these terms and how they relate to prognosis and outcome.
Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness characterized by emotional disorders, inappropriate behavior, thought disorder, as well as inability to maintain a social life. This disease possesses a variety of clinical forms and features of the course. The risks of developing the disease are associated with both men and women. Schizophrenia usually manifests itself gradually, starting with the loss of patient’s vital energy. In other cases, schizophrenia appears more suddenly. The cause of its occurrence may be the experienced stress. Sometimes, schizophrenia is divided into episodes, in which the disease manifests itself clearly, but in between the patient can demonstrate the complete absence of the problem. The symptoms of schizophrenia are so diverse that some experts are inclined to consider it not as a single disease, but as a whole group of diseases. Nevertheless, despite the differences, all common symptoms of schizophrenia can be divided into two following groups: positive and negative. The separation of the symptoms of schizophrenia into the categories helps to understand the nature of the disease better, as well as to make the right choose as regards medication.