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Science incorporates the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and also natural human being through observation and experiment, and also technology is the applications of scientific knowledge for useful purposes. Oxford Reference provides much more than 210,000 concise definitions and in-depth, professional encyclopedic entries ~ above the wide variety of topics within these large disciplines.

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Our coverage comprises authoritative, highly accessible information on the an extremely latest terminology, concepts, theories, techniques, people, and also organizations relating come all locations of science and technology—from astronomy, engineering, physics, computer system science, and also mathematics, come life and earth sciences, chemistry, ecological science, biology, and psychology. Created by trusted experts for researcher at every level, entries space complemented through illustrative heat drawings, equations, and also charts wherever useful.

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Featured author

Andrew M. Colman

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Andrew M. Colman is the author of A thesaurus of Psychology (4th edn). That is Professor that Psychology at the university of Leicester and also a other of the British mental Society. He graduated with a BA (Hons) and an MA in Psychology native the college of Cape Town and also a doctor from Rhodes University. That is an author of countless journal articles and several books, including Facts, Fallacies and Frauds in Psychology, What is Psychology? (3rd edn), Game Theory and also its application in the Social and Biological Sciences (2nd edn), and also (with Briony D. Pulford), A Crash food in SPSS because that Windows (4th edn). The edited the two-volume Companion Encyclopedia of Psychology and the 12-volume Longman necessary Psychology series.


Author Q&A

What is the one term or concept that everyone—from college student to daily web users—should be acquainted with? Why?

I wish that everyone construed the scientific method, and also in details the distinctive importance the the managed experiment as a method of scientific discovery. Kids should be taught at institution what an experiment is and also why it is together a powerful method of learning the truth. Psychology uses miscellaneous research methods, but the most powerful is undoubtedly regulated experimentation, not because it is more objective or an accurate than other methods, but since it is uniquely qualified of providing proof of causal effects.

The defining features of one experiment are manipulation the a conjectured causal factor, referred to as an elevation variable due to the fact that it is manipulated separately of various other variables, and examination that the result of this on a dependence variable, when simultaneously regulating all other extraneous variables that might otherwise influence the dependency variable. In mental experiments, extraneous variables can seldom be regulated directly, partly due to the fact that people differ from one one more in means that influence their behaviour. You might think it’s difficult to regulate for every individual differences and other extraneous variables, however in truth there is a remarkable solution to this problem.

In 1926, the brothers statistician Ronald Fisher discovered a powerful an approach of control called randomization. Through assigning subjects or participants come an speculative group and also a control group strictly in ~ random, and then dealing with the two teams identically apart from the manipulated independent variable (applied come the speculative group only), an experimenter have the right to control, at a solitary stroke, for every individual differences and also other extraneous variables, including ones that no one has even considered. Randomization does no guarantee that the two teams will it is in identical but rather that any type of differences in between the teams will follow precisely the well-known laws of probability.

This describes the purpose and duty of statistical significance tests in psychology. For any kind of observed difference, a definition test allows a researcher to calculation the probability that a distinction at the very least as large as the observed difference might occur by chance alone. The researcher then knows what the probability is of together a huge difference under the null theory – the functioning hypothesis the the live independence variable has actually no effect. If the probability under the null theory is sufficiently little (by convention, usually much less than 5 every cent, often written ns illusory correlation, an ext sceptical around merely anecdotal evidence, and capable of interpreting result from any kind of survey research, case study, correlational study, observational study, or quasi-experiment with suitable caution.

What perform you think is the most commonly held misconception in your topic area?

Although ns can’t prove that it’s the many common, the many fashionable misunderstanding is the assumption that phenomena that behaviour and also mental endure – the subject-matter that psychology – can be understood and explained specifically in terms of neural mechanisms. The is continual by the increasingly renowned doctrine that neuroscience have the right to in rule replace classic psychology, the it is currently replacing timeless psychology, or (in its the strongest form) that it has already replaced traditional psychology. This is a debilitating form of reductionism, based on the presumption that behaviour and mental experiences are very closely correlated with neural processes, especially in the brain; but locating a system in the mind does no amount to explaining the linked psychological phenomenon, as I deserve to easily present with a Gedankenexperiment (thought experiment) and an instance from nature.

First, imagine a super-intelligent extraterrestrial trying to understand a working computer busy printing out my Dictionary of Psychology ~ above a laser printer. By just investigating the physical system of the computer and also the printer, it would certainly never know what the computer system was in reality doing; or at least its explanation would lack what is most important and interesting about the computer’s behaviour.

Second, purposeful behaviour can take place naturally without any kind of involvement of neural mechanisms. Because that example, the imreparable cells paramecium, uncovered abundantly in stagnant ponds, move about, avoids obstacles by swimming round them, gathers food, and retreats native danger. It have the right to turn round in a glass tube to escape, and it can also learn native experience, although some neuroscientists unsurprisingly inquiry whether this is true learning. However a paramecium has no nervous system, and also its solitary cell is not even a neuron; therefore, it offers conclusive evidence that neuroscience cannot describe all forms of behaviour.

In your opinion, i beg your pardon is the many fascinating entrance in her dictionary and why?

Being request to choose the many fascinating entry is choose being inquiry to select one’s favourite child, and also I won’t perform it. I discover thousands of the entries fascinating, yet the entry defining heuristic, in addition to the various particular heuristics cross-referenced native it, describes concepts that have actually fascinated others sufficiently to be rewarded through the only two Nobel prizes ever before awarded for purely emotional research. A heuristic is a rough-and-ready procedure or dominance of thumb for make a decision, creating a judgement, or resolving a problem, and we all use heuristics all the time. The united state researcher Herbert Simon introduced the term in its contemporary psychological sense in 1957 to explain how human being decision makers with bounded rationality solve troubles when they execute not have actually the time or sources to examine all easily accessible possibilities thoroughly, and also he obtained the first Nobel Prize because that this work. Two years later, the Israeli-American psychologists Amos Tversky and also Daniel Kahneman discovered and investigated experimentally a large number that biases in human being thinking that deserve to be traced to certain heuristics, and in 2002 Kahneman to be rewarded for this occupational with the second Nobel Prize, Tversky having died a few years earlier.

A common example is the connect fallacy: undergraduate students were shown personality sketches the a hypothetical person called Linda (young, single, deep concerned around social issues, and also involved in anti-nuclear activity) and asked whether it was an ext probable the Linda to be a financial institution teller or that Linda to be a financial institution teller who was active in the feminist movement. No fewer 보다 86% that the students judged it more probable that that Linda to be a financial institution teller that was active in the feminist movement, return the probability that a connect A and B have the right to never be greater than the probability the A. The fallacy occurs from the use of the representativeness heuristic, according to which people estimate the probability the something belongs come a certain class by judging how common it is of the class. Since Linda seems an ext typical the feminist financial institution tellers 보다 of bank tellers in general, many human being fall into the connect fallacy in this example.

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