ALL AS/A2 Unit 4 Psychology Research Methods

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  • Created on: 07-06-13 13:45
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Experimental Methods
Laboratory experiment
Used to test a difference/causal relationship, NEVER a relationship!
Identifying a Laboratory Experiment:
Controlled conditions to reduce extraneous variables
IV and DV are manipulated
Measures taken carefully
+ Replicable
+ High control over variables = high internal validity
- Artificial environment = lacks internal validity
- Demand characteristics
- Experimenter/investigator effects
Field experiment
Used to test a difference/causal relationship, NEVER a relationship!
Identifying a Field Experiment:
The IV and DV variables are still manipulated by the researcher but in a natural environment
+ Real world setting = high ecological validity
+ No demand characteristics (sometimes) = high internal validity
- Expensive
- Time consuming
i.e. Traveling to remote tribal communities in the Amazon and conducting tests and experiments
on hunter gatherer groups to measure the validity and applicability of universal grammar theories.
Natural experiment
Used to test a difference/causal relationship, NEVER a relationship!

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Identifying a natural Experiment:
Naturally occurring independent variable
i.e. research if seaside's are more fun than theme parks. The seaside is the naturally occurring
IV because the experimenter did not make them and they occur naturally.
+ real world environment = high ecological validity
+ No demand characteristics
+ No control over IV, so chance of confounding/extraneous variables high = low internal validity
Controlled observations
Controlled observation is a type of observational study where the situations are planned by the
researcher.…read more

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Make sure any hypothesis is fully operationalised
NEVER begin a hypothesis with `I predict/believe/think'!
Directional hypothesis: use only when there is previous research to justify it. Begin it `[insert]
Non-directional hypothesis: always use. Begin it `there will be a difference/relationship...'
Null hypothesis are only used in research reports. If results are non-significant, we accept the null
hypothesis and vice versa.…read more

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+ No effect by individual differences ­ each person takes part in each condition
+ Inexpensive (don't need as much participants)
- Order effects:
- Practice effects: if the conditions are similar, then doing one condition will improve their
performance in the other condition
- Boredom effects: if participant becomes bored in one condition this may decrease their
performance in the other condition
In this design it is important to use counterbalancing.…read more

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Identifying a correlational analysis:
No IV or DV, just covariables
Correlation coefficient
-1 = strong negative correlation
0 = no relationship
+1 = strong positive correlation
+ a relationship between two variables can be confirmed. This could lead to further, more substantial
- no cause and effect = low internal
- cannot control variables = low internal
Plot Raw data (data that you don't convert to an average) on a scattergraphs
Correlations are represented on scattergraphs.…read more

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+ Social desirability
+ Biased sample ­ people of a helpful nature may only be interested in answering the questions
+ Can be biased by leading questions
+ more insightful data compared to questionnaires
+ Simple and fast, can be conducted by anyone
+ Social desirability
+ investigator effects
+ Biased sample ­ people of a helpful nature may
only be interested in answering the questions
+ Can be biased by leading questions
Demographic and socially sensitive questions also go at…read more

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This technique involves observing subjects in their natural environment. A controlled observation or
experiment is not used because it is important to have ecological validity.
Behaviour Category
Choose the behaviours/variables you need to look for
and operationalise them so to have inter-rater reliability.
These behaviours will appear on a behaviour checklist
(coding system) to which the investigators will `check'
once the behaviour is observed.…read more

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Questionnaires ­ Do participants understand the questions? Are the questions flawed?
Control of extraneous variables
Extraneous variables are variables you try to control for before/while the study is taking place
Confounding variables are variables that have affected the experiment after it has taken place
Controlling for EV:
- Random sampling/assignment
- Balancing out variables in conditions…read more

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Control group
- Replication
Reliability: Consistency over time or between different tools or measures
Inter-rater reliability (observer reliability): the degree of agreement between different observers.
Using correlations to assess inter-rater reliability
Comparing the observations of the observers is best done using correlation. This relatively simple
statistical technique allows us to see how similar two sets of values are. A good positive correlation
shows that the two observers provide similar results.…read more

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Improving inter-rater reliability
- Operationalising
- Training: good observation skills to easily identify the appropriate behaviours
- Same view of behaviours: i.e. view same video or angles
Test reliability: the extent to which tests, such as questionnaires or interviews, are reliable as a
method of measuring behaviour.
Using correlations to assess test reliability
The method used here is test-retest assessment, or test-retest correlation. Here the test is given to
the person again, but on a different occasion.…read more




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