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The Importance of Converging Operations

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The Importance of Converging Operations In the Study of Biopsychology Introduction After all, it is only by comparing that we can judge, for our knowledge rests entirely on the relations that things have with others that are similar or different, and we should realize that if there were no animals, the nature of man would be even more incomprehensible. - G. L. Buffon, Historie Naturelle Already 30 years ago behaviorist Zing-Yang Kuo argued that because human development is such a complex process, that no single branch of psychology or biology can study it adequately on its own (1970). To deal with this problem an approach is needed that would involve cooperation of multiple branches of a discipline in solving a single problem. Converging operations - the use of several research methods to solve a single problem so that the strengths of one method balance out the weaknesses of the others (Pinel, 2002) - is exactly the technique fitting these requirements. Converging operations create study results using multiple levels of analysis, multiple species, comparing among the analyses and the species - it is an irreplaceable technique. And even though the knowledge of biopsychology has also been advanced through single method studies, success of biopsychology as a scientific discipline lies in its effective use of converging operations. In this essay we will examine the reasons for importance of convergent operations in the field of biopsychology, will look at how ...read more.


Clearly, two or more approaches combined, if they are selected properly, will complement one another well. Together they will be able to provide evidence for points of view that none of them could defend individually. In most cases, being convinced by the results of one study or even of a group of studies using the same approach in biopsychology is not satisfactory. One can be more sure of the validity of conclusions when they come from convergent evidence and not from a single study. Because of the development of data from the biological and behavioral sciences over the past 25 years, the need for the convergent-operations approach is even more necessary now than when Zing-Yang Kuo first emphasized its importance (Lickliter, 2000). Converging operations have been made use of with various topics, such as alcohol use and abuse (Windle, 1996), aggression (Williams et al., 1996), intersensory perception (Lickliter, 2000), role of visual imagery in perception (Kosslyn et al., 1999), techniques for visualizing neurons (summarized by Pinel, 2002), Korsakoff's syndrome (summarized by Pinel, 2002), and others. Here we will present the two latter topics to show the work of converging operations in them. Another example of the work of converging operations is in looking for a cause of Korsakoff's syndrome, a severe memory loss which is often the only disabling symptom experienced. ...read more.


Second, successful application of a convergent-operations approach typically requires good communication among scientists of different areas of the field studied and overcoming the fact that "researchers in different subdisciplines often structure their research questions differently, use different language for discussing similar phenomena, have different types of controls and measures, and draw from different literatures, even when investigating similar topics" (Lickliter, 2000). And last, when going through a set of studies, it will simply take longer to get the final results on the topic studied, which will automatically multiply the financial and time involving costs of the already expensive and complicated research process. A project, which would potentially cost significantly more and would take significantly longer than another one, may not get chosen by some researchers, at least some of the time. Conclusion "The fish trap exists because of the fish. Once you've gotten the fish you can forget the trap. The rabbit snare exists because of the rabbit. Once you've gotten the rabbit, you can forget the snare. Words exist because of meaning. Once you've gotten the meaning, you can forget the words." - Chuang-tzu Progress in biopsychology typically comes from convergent evidence. Despite the difficulties, a convergent-operations approach creates a broader perspective in research than a more traditional single-method or species-specific approach and helps to identify theories and principles in psychology that could be generalized to different species and populations. (Lickliter, 2000). The strength of biopsychology is in the diversity of its methods and approaches, and, as a field, it is built on converging operations. ...read more.

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