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PSYA4 section C: Psychological Research and Scientific Method
Candidates will be expected to:
extend their knowledge, understanding and skills of research design,
data analysis, and data interpretation and reporting gained at AS
develop an understanding of the nature of science and scientific
This section builds on the knowledge and skills developed at AS
level.…read more

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The most fundamental characteristic of science is its reliance on empirical methods of observation and
investigation i.e. observation through sensory experience rather than a reliance on thoughts and ideas.
This is the scientific method.
Science involves constructing theories, which can in turn be tested and refined through further empirical
observation (the hypothetico-deductive method).…read more

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Psychology, in common with all scientific subjects, develops its knowledge base through
conducting research and sharing the findings of such research with other scientists. Peer
review is an essential part of this process and scientific quality is judged by it. It is in the
interest of all scientists that their work is held up for scrutiny and that any work that is
flawed or fraudulent, is detected and its results ignored.…read more

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Smith, 1999). Criticisms include:
Unachievable ideal ­ It isn't always possible to find an appropriate expert to review a research proposal
or report. This means that poor research may be passed because the reviewer didn't really understand it.
Anonymity is usually practised so that reviewers may be honest and objective. However it may have the
opposite effect if reviewers use the veil of anonymity to settle old scores or bury rival research.…read more

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Planning a Psychological Study
Often part of the RM question will involve a longer answer where you have to design a study
around information given to you in the question. This can be worth a lot of marks. You must
adjust your detail to the number of marks. Here are some tips to help you:
Designing a study
1. Remember that the different research methods are lab experiments, field experiments,
natural experiments, correlations, observations, questionnaires & interviews.
2.…read more

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What questions will you ask? Open/ closed
How will you reduce social desirability bias?
Filler questions/ lie detection questions
Will you use scales e.g.…read more

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Experiment planning sheet
IV (need 2 conditions)
Experimental design
Null hypothesis
Alternative hypothesis
Participants- How many? Who? Sampling method? How allocated to conditions?
Ethical issues
8…read more

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Correlation planning sheet
Co-variable 1
Co-variable 2
Null hypothesis
Alternative hypothesis
Participants- How many? Who? Sampling method?
Ethical issues
9…read more

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Observation planning sheet
Details of behaviour checklist
Training of observers
Details of time or event sampling
where will observers be positioned? Will participants be aware observed?
Null hypothesis
Alternative hypothesis
Participants- How many? Who? Sampling method?
Ethical issues
10…read more


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