Reliability

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  • Reliability
    • how consistent the findings from investigation are
      • measuring device - most reliable if produces consistent results every time
      • if measurement is repeated, then described as reliable
    • Ways of testing reliability
      • Test-Retest
        • same test/ questionnaire to the same person on different occasions
          • if it is reliable, then results should be the same each time
            • sufficient time between test and retest to ensure pps cannot recall answers
              • e.g. questionnaire - two sets of scores correlated to ensure similarity
                • positive correlation - reliability of measuring instrument is good
      • Inter-rater Reliability
        • agreement between two or more observers in behaviour observations
          • measured by correlating observations of two or more observers
            • (total no of agreements) / (total no of observations) > +.80 --> data have high inter-rater reliability
        • one researcher's interpretation of events may differ from the other's
          • subjectivity bias and unreliability in data collection
        • Pilot study of observation -  to check observers are applying behavioural categories in same way
        • both observers must watch same event, record data independently
    • Improving Reliability
      • Questionnaires
        • measured using test-retest method
        • two sets of data compared should exceed +.08
        • one that produces low test-retest reliability requires some items to be rewritten
        • e.g. some are complex, interpreted differently by same person, on different occasions
        • solution: replace some open questions with closed ones
      • Interviews
        • use same interviewer each time
        • interviewers must be properly trained
          • e.g. one is not asking questions that are too ambiguous
        • easily avoided in structured interviews
          • interviewer's behaviour more controlled by fixed questions
            • unstructured interviews less likely to be reliable
      • Experiements
        • lab experiments described as reliable
          • researcher can exert strict control over aspects of procedure
        • control is more achievable in lab than in field
        • precise replication of particular method than demonstrating reliability of a finding
          • one thing affecting reliability - pps tested under slightly different conditions each time
      • Observations
        • improved by making sure behavioural categories = operationalised, measurable, self-evident
        • categories should not overlap & all behaviours should be covered
        • categories not operationalised well, different observers make on judgements of what to record
        • could end up with differing records

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