Psychology Research Methods


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  • RESEARCH METHODS
    • Demand Characteristics
      • These are all the clues in an experiment which convey to the participant the purpose of the research
        • Participants will be affected by: (i) their surroundings; (ii) the researcher’s characteristics; (iii) the researcher’s behavior (e.g. non-verbal communication), and (iv) their interpretation of what is going on in the situation
          • Experimenters should attempt to minimize these factors by keeping the environment as natural as possible, carefully following standardized procedures. Finally, perhaps different experimenters should be used to see if they obtain similar results
    • External Validity
      • Ecological Validity
        • How true the behaviour is if we can generaise it to real life
      • Population Validity
        • How truly representative the sample is of the target population
      • A measure of how true behaviour found in an experiment will be outside of the experimental situation
    • Internal Validity
      • A measure of how true the study is to the participants inside the study
    • Designing An Experiment
      • Hypothesis
        • Experimental/Alternative
          • A predictive statement which states there will be a difference between the conditions as measured by the DV
        • It is a specific prediction of what you expect to happen in your experiment. It is testable and you need to state what you are going to control and measure therefore it includes an IV and a DV
    • Experimental Designs
      • Repeated Measures Design
        • Same participants experience both conditions of the experiment - IV
          • Strengths
            • Participant variables controlled. Any difference between conditions are therefore like to be due to changes in the IV
            • Fewer participants need to be recruited as they are used twice
          • Weakness
            • Order effect as participants take part in all conditions
      • Independent Groups Design
        • Different participants only take part in one condition of the experiment
          • Strengths
            • No order effects
            • It allows task variables to be controlled e.g. participants can be given the same word lists in each condition so that this does not become a confounding variable
          • Weakness
            • Participant variables
      • Matched Pairs Design (Experimental Group)
      • Pilot Study
        • Pilot studies are small, trial versions of proposed studies to test their effectiveness and make improvements.
          • They are helpful in identifying potential issues early, which can then be rectified before committing to the length and expense of a full investigation
            • It involves selecting a few people and trying out the study on them
            • It saves time, and in some cases, money, by identifying any flaws in the procedures designed by the researcher
    • Sampling Methods
      • Sample
        • The group of people who take part in the investigation. The people who take part are referred to as participants
      • Target Population
        • The group of people that share a given set of characterisitics about which the researcher wishes to draw conclusions
      • Representativeness
        • The sample accurately reflects the population at large
      • Techniques
        • Opportunity
          • Uses people from target population available at the time and willing to take part
            • Strength
              • Easy to obtain
            • Weakness
              • Unlikely to be representative
        • Random
          • Everyone in the entire target population has an equal chance of being selected
            • Strength
              • Sample is more like to be representative
              • Less biased
            • Weakness
              • Often impractical - it takes a long time and therefore costly
        • Volunteer
          • Participants respond to an advertisement or researchers select themselves
            • Strength
              • Easy way to obtain as participants come to you
        • Systematic
          • Chooses subjects in a systematic (i.e. orderly / logical) way from the target population, like every nth participant on a list of names
            • Weakness
              • Difficult to achieve i.e. time, effort and money.
              • Not truly unbiased or random if you start counting from the beginning of the list
            • Strength
              • Unbiased
        • Stratified
          • Subgroups (known as strata) are identified within the target population then the researcher works out the proportions needed for the sample to be representative. Selection within the strata is done randomly
            • Strength
              • Very time consuming to identify subgroups then randomly select from the subgroups and then contact those selected
            • Weakness
              • Likely to be representative because there is a proportional and randomly selected representation of subgroups
      • Sampling is the process of selecting a representative group from the population under study
      • Refers to how researchers get a sample
    • Experimental Method
      • Types of Method
        • Laboratory Experiment
          • An experiment which takes place in a controlled artificial environment
            • Experimenters usually have a lot of control over variables so they can test cause and effect
              • Participants are randomly allocated to conditions
        • Field Experiment
          • A type of experiment which takes place in a natural setting but the IV is still manipulated by the experimenter
            • Participants are unaware that they are taking part in an experiment
        • Natural Experiment
          • A type of experiment where the IV already occurs in real life so the experimenters do not have to set this up for the purpose of the research
        • Quasi Experiment
          • There is no control over the IV or the allocation of participants, however they can control other variables such as situational variables.
            • Research involves more planning and control than natural experiment. They tend to look at the effects of personal characteristics such as gender/personality on behaviour
    • Variables
      • Extraneous Variables
        • Situational Variable
          • There are aspects of the environment that might affect the participant's behaviour e.g. noise, temperature, lighting conditions
            • Situational variables should be controlled so they are the same for all participants
              • Standardised instructions is also used. This refers to the instructions that are given to the participants at the beginning of a study.
        • Participant Variable
          • This refers to the ways in which each participant varies from the other and how this could affect their results e.g. mood, intelligence, anxiety etc
            • Participant variables can be controlled using random allocation to the conditions of the independent variable
        • Investigator/Experimenter Effects
          • The behaviour of the investigator may affect the participants and thus affect the DV
            • Investigator effect can be dealt with using a double blind design. This is when both the participant and the person conduting the experiment don't know the aims of the experiment
        • Order Effects
          • Refers to the order of conditions having an effect on the participant
            • The limitation can be controlled by using counterbalances (ABBA).
              • Counterbalancing (ABBA) is when the sample is split into two groups experimental (A) and (B).  For example, group 1 does ‘A’ then ‘B’, group 2 does ‘B’ then ‘A’ this is to eliminate order effects.
                • Although order effects occur for each participant, because they occur equally in both groups, they balance each other out in the results.
        • Anything other than the IV which affects the DV which are therefore controlled beforehand
      • Independent Variable
        • The variable that is manipulated by the experimenter
          • It forms the basis of comparison for the groups
          • There are always at least two levels e.g. heat and cold
      • Dependent Variable
        • The variable that is measured by the experimenter
      • Confounding Variables
        • An Extraneous Variable that is uncontrolled or a variable that is very different from the IV which produces an unwanted effct
      • Operationalising
        • The process of strictly defining variables into measurable factors - being precise
          • Makes it testable meaning it can be repeated by others - increases the replicability
          • Increases the reliability and validity
    • Ethical Guidelines
      • Confidentiality
      • Protection from harm
      • Deception
      • Informed Consent
        • IF not possible to give informed consent researcher should get presumptive consent
          • A similar group is asked how they would feel about taking part. if they are fine with it then the researcher as assume that the real participants will find it acceptable
      • Withdrawal
      • Debriefing
    • Procedures
      • Single Blind
        • The experimenter knows what is happening. The participants do not know  about the treatment, manipulation and drug treatment
      • Double Blind
        • Both the participants and the experimenter are not aware of the nature of the experirment

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