Psychology is typically defined as the science of behavior and cognition and is considered a research-oriented discipline, not unlike biology, chemistry, and physics. To appreciate the role of experimentation in psychology, it is useful to view it in the context of the general scientific method employed by psychologists in conducting their research. This scientific method may be described as a four-step sequence starting with identifying a problem and forming a hypothesis. The problem must be one suitable for scientific inquiry. Questions concerning values, such as whether rural life is "better" than city life, are more appropriate for philosophical debate than scientific investigation. Questions better suited to the scientific method are those that can be answered through the objective collection of facts—for example, "Are children who are neglected by their parents more likely to do poorly in school than children who are well treated?" The hypothesis is the tentative guess, or the prediction regarding the question's answer, and is based upon other relevant research and existing theory. The second step, and the one with which this article is primarily concerned, is the collection of data (facts) in order to test the accuracy of the hypothesis. Any one of a number of methods might be employed, including simple observation, survey, or experimentation. The third step is to make sense of the facts that have been accumulated by subjecting them to careful analysis; the fourth step is to share any significant findings with the scientific community.
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