AQA-A Research Methods notes

Notes on research methods for the Unit One exam. Made them before my exam in Jan 2012, hope they help :)

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  • Created on: 27-04-12 15:04
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Psychology notes ­ Research Methods
Aim ­ A clear precise statement of the purpose of the study:
* Why the research is taking place
* Should include what is being investigated and what the research wants to achieve
Operationalisation ­ defining the variables stated in the aim in a way they can be precisely
Hypothesis ­ a testable statement that predicts what the researcher expects to happen in the
* Always a statement, never a question*
o Null hypothesis ­ states that the IV will have no effect on the DV
o Directional hypothesis ­ states that the IV will have an effect on the DV and what the
difference will be
o Non-directional hypothesis ­ states that the IV will have an effect on the DV but not
what the difference will be
Internal validity ­ does the research measure what it intended to measure?
* Whether cause and effect can be established
* That the results have not been affected by outside factors (extraneous
Extraneous variables ­ anything that can affect the DV other than the IV
*There are four types of extraneous variables:
Participant Variables Can include participant's personality, age, IQ,
education, etc.
Situational Variables The setting and surrounding should be the
same for all participants to avoid it affecting
their behaviour.
Demand Characteristics External cues or clues that may cause
participants to behave unnaturally.
Investigator Effects The appearance, behaviour or even mere
presence of an investigator might affect the
behaviour of participants
Single blind technique ­ the participants don't know the aim of the study
Double blind technique ­ both the participants and the researcher are unaware of the aim of
the study

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Standardised instructions ­ exactly the same instructions are given to all participants
High internal validity ­ all EVs were successfully controlled, the study measured what it
intended to measure
Low internal validity ­ the EVs weren't successfully controlled, didn't actually measure what
they wanted to measure
External validity ­ can the findings be generalised beyond the experiment
­ Whether the results are representative of the population, setting and time
of the real world
*There are 3 types of external validity:
Ecological Validity Whether the results…read more

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Sample made up of people who are available and willing to take part at the time of the
+ Quick, convenient and economical. Doesn't require the level of planning and preparation
that is associated with other sampling methods, this leads to less delays in the research and
less money is spent.
- Can be unrepresentative, participants who are available at the time of the study may not
be representative of the target population.…read more

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May also cause participants to become distrustful of psychological research on the
* Can be dealt with by debriefing participants (explaining fully the aim of the study ­
consent can then be obtained).
Informed consent ­ participants should be fully aware of the purpose and nature of the study
and agree to take part.
*Debriefing can deal with the lack of informed consent.…read more

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High control of variables, all extraneous variables can be controlled. This leads to a more
accurate measurement of the IV.
+ Lab experiments are easy to replicate because of the control over variables. This means
that the study can easily be tested for reliability.
- High demand characteristics, in a lab experiment participants will know they are being
tested so may cause them to change their behaviour.…read more

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Low demand characteristics, participants are usually unaware they are being tested so are
less likely to change their behaviour. This means that the results reflect relief as the
participants are responding to the IV and not demand characteristics.
- Low control of variables, natural experiments don't have the control that lab experiments
have over extraneous variables. This means there is a greater chance of EVs affecting the IV,
affecting the study's internal validity and making a cause and effect relationship hard to
establish.…read more

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This reduces
study's internal validity.
Matched pairs design ­ a different set of participants are used in each condition, however
participants are matched on particular characteristics.
Advantages Disadvantages
*Low order effects as participants only take *Although participants are matched on certain
part in one condition so do not become characteristics there will still be participant
practised or fatigues. This is positive as it variables. This is a problem because it
increases the study's internal validity.…read more

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Correlation co-efficient ­ A numerical measure of the strength and direction of the
relationship between two variables.
The correlation co-efficient varies between -1 and +1. -1 represents a perfect negative
correlation and +1 represents a perfect positive correlation, 0 represents no correlation.
0.2 ­ weak positive correlation
0.4 ­ moderately weak positive correlation
0.6 ­ moderately strong positive correlation
0.8 ­ strong positive correlation
-0.2 ­ weak negative correlation
-0.4 ­ moderately weak negative correlation
-0.6 ­ moderately strong negative correlation
-0.…read more

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Undisclosed ­ participants are unaware of being observed, therefore they can't give their full
consent. These types of observations are limited to public places. They are also seen as
Non participant:
Involves the researcher observing the behaviour from a distance, they do not become actively
involved in the activities of those being studied.
Advantages Disadvantages
* High ecological validity ­ done in a real life * There is lack of control in a natural
setting.…read more

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Qualitative data ­ data with words or sentences to explain what is happening
Quantitative data ­ data in the form of numbers, this can be collected by using a behaviour
schedule where you count the number of times a behaviour occurs in a set time scale.
Inter-rater reliability ­ a way of improving the reliability of a naturalistic observation. Data
produced from an observation can be subjective, making it unreliable.…read more


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