Psychology Research Methods

Here are some of the methods of research that are commonly used in social sciences such as Psychology and Sociology. They do not include all strengths and weaknesses but do give a few for each method.

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  • Created by: Toni Lowe
  • Created on: 12-05-13 15:42
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  • Research Methods
    • Questionnaires
      • Structured
        • Evaluation
          • Disadvantages
            • Researcher is less able to build any kind of rapport with the participant. They may be less able to find out more personal information about them.
          • Advantages
            • Easier to analyse if only one type of data is being acquired
        • Outline
          • This type of questionnaire goes by a specific set of guidelines as to how questions should be worded, how many to ask, when to ask them etc.
      • Unstructured
        • Evaluation
          • Advantages
            • The researcher is able to acquire either quantitative or qualitative data
            • Allows researcher to acquire in-depth, detailed data in order to get a better understanding of an individual
          • Disadvantages
            • Data may be harder and more time consuming to analyse (occurs if data is qualitative)
        • Outline
          • A set of questions communicated in word format that has no specific guidelines as to how the questions should be worded or what questions should be asked
      • Semi -structured
        • Evaluation
          • Disadvantages
          • Advantages
            • Allows the researcher to go off topic a bit and find out more personal information about the participant.
        • Outline
          • A written set of questions that only partially has to go by a specific set of instructions as to the layout and aspects of the questionnaire.
      • Evaluation of questionnaires in general
        • Advantages
          • Cheap, quick, easy to distribute.
          • Large number of returns.
          • Representativeness
        • Disadvantages
          • Low number of returns
          • May only get a certain type of person filling them in (participant bias)
    • Interviews
      • Semi-structured
        • Outline
        • Evaluation
          • Disadvantages
          • Advantages
            • Allows researcher to be able to acquire the information that they are looking for AND build a rapport with interviewees
      • Unstructured
        • Outline
          • Have no specific rules or guidelines, allowing the interviewer to ask whatever question in whatever way they like.
        • Evaluation
          • Disadvantages
          • Advantages
      • Group interviews
        • Outline
          • A form of interview that uses a small group of people as the interviewees rather than one person alone.
        • Evaluation
          • Advantages
            • Interviewees may feel more confident in giving answers in a group
            • More than one person can be interviewed at a time so it doesn't take up as much time
          • Disadvantages
            • Interviewees may feel uncomfortable giving answers in front of a group
      • Structured
        • Outline
          • Uses a specific set of guidelines as to how, when and what should be said
    • Field studies
      • Outline
        • A study that is conducted in the natural environment of the subject.
      • Evaluation
        • Advantages
          • High ecological validity
        • Disadvantages
          • Lower reliability
    • Lab studies
      • Outline
        • Conducted in a highly controlled unrealistic environment where there is full control over any variables.
      • Evaluation
        • Advantages
          • High level of control
            • Researcher has control over all variables including extraneous variables
          • Reliability
            • The high level of control over variables means that the study can be repeated and acquire the same or similar results
        • Disadvantages
          • Lacks ecological validity
            • Lab studies are conducted in unrealistic environments and so lack ecological validity
    • Natural studies
      • Outline
        • A field experiment where the independent variable is naturally occuring
      • Evaluation
        • Advantages
          • High ecological validity
          • Researcher doesn't need to control the independent variable as it is naturally occuring
        • Disadvantages
          • Low control over variables (especially extraneous variables)
          • Low reliability due to lack of control over variables
    • Correlation
      • Outline
        • A method used to establish links between  2 variables
      • Evaluation
        • Advantages
          • Can give clear links between variables
          • Can be used as a method of research in other methods (E.g. lab studies)
        • Disadvantages
          • Correlation does not equal causation
            • Both variables can be caused or effected by extraneous variables and so they may not be causing or effecting each other. Therefore, one cannot state that one variable causes or effects the other or that there is any correlation at all.
    • Case studies
      • Outline
        • The study of one or a few people.
      • Evaluation
        • Advantages
          • Can acquire in depth information
        • Disadvantages
          • Generalisability
            • Very difficult to generalise the results to a wider population as the study is only conducted on one or a few people.
    • Observation
      • Overt
        • Evaluation
          • Disadvantages
            • Participants  are aware that they are being observed and so may act differently to how they would otherwise.
          • Advantages
            • Informed Consent
        • Outline
          • This form of observation involves the participants knowing that they are being observed and given their consent for this to happen.
      • Covert
        • Evaluation
          • Advantages
            • Participants are unaware that they are being observed and so are unlikely to act very differently to how they would in natural situations.
          • Disadvantages
            • Informed Consent
            • Researcher has to somehow get into the group without being suspected and stay in the group.
        • Outline
          • A form of observation used in social sciences where the researcher observes from within the group and their status not made clear to the rest of the group.
      • Naturalistic
        • Evaluation
          • Disadvantages
            • The researcher has either no or little control over the environment that the subjects are being observed in.
          • Advantages
            • High ecological validity
            • If participants are unaware that they are being observed, they are unlikely to act much differently than they would otherwise.
        • Outline
          • A type of observation that involves the participants being observed in their natural environment.
    • Remember, use: P.E.R.V.E.R.T (used mainly in Sociology but can also be applied to Psychology)
      • R: representativeness
      • T: theoretical
      • E: evidence
      • P: practical
      • V: validity
      • Untitled
      • R: reliability
      • E: ethical

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