Issues in Research

The issues research element of the methods part of the PSYB4 Psychology syllabus.

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  • Created on: 29-06-10 22:06
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Issues In Research
Strengths & Limitations of different methods of research:
Experiment: A method in which researcher manipulates an independent variable, whilst
controlling other extraneous variables in order to measure an affect on a dependant variable.
o Strengths: Only method that can reliably establish cause and effect. Very objective
because researcher cannot easily bias results.
o Limitations: Low levels of ecological construct validity. Open to demand
characteristics because participant is more aware of research process.
Selfreport: A method, such as interview or questionnaire, where participant reports on
their own thoughts or behaviour.
o Strengths: Allows access to thoughts and feelings of ppt. Can discover what ppts
would do in certain situations without having to reconstruct them.
o Limitations: Unreliable if ppts are dishonest, inaccurate, lacking in confidence or
insight or have poor memories. May be unfairly influenced by researcher's questions.
Observation: Recording behaviour of ppt by watching them, often in a natural setting.
o Strengths: Possible for researchers to directly observe rather than relying on
selfreports. High ecological validity in natural situations.
o Limitations: Not possible to reliably observe thoughts and feelings. Observations
may be invalid due to observer bias or observer effect.
Correlation: Measuring two naturally occurring variables to establish the relationship
between them.
o Strengths: Allows researchers to make reliable measurements of the strength and
direction of a relationship between two variables. Allows statistical analysis of two
naturally occurring phenomena which would not be open to manipulation.
o Limitations: Cannot reliably establish cause and effect between variables, only their
relationship. Variables have to be quantified to be measured and this can affect the
construct validity.
Case Study: The study of one person or group in detail.
o Strengths: High in validity as research offers detailed insight. Efficient as it only
takes one case study disprove a whole theory.
o Limitations: Difficult to generalise as samples are small and often unusual.
Researchers can become too involved and lose ability to be objective.
Content Analysis: Analysing secondary material in order to give insight into human thought
or behaviour.
o Strengths: Allows investigation into people it may be difficult or impossible to
access directly. Few ethical problems because it's the study of material not people.
o Limitations: Because there is no direct contact with people, their thoughts and
behaviour may be misinterpreted through analysis. Qualitative content analysis
produces findings that are potentially subjective whereas quantitative content analysis
produces findings that may lack construct validity.
Strengths & Limitations of qualitative and quantitative data:
Quantitative data: Data in numerical form.
Qualitative data: Data in descriptive form.
Quantitative methods: Experiments where variables are strictly measured for high control
levels. Selfreports using closed questions, where it is possible to count the number of
responses for each questions in categories. Structured observations where behaviours are

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Correlations which measure the strength and relationship between two sets
of scores. Quantitative content analysis where content may be tallied or coded.
Qualitative methods: Selfreports using open questions where answers can be summarised
or transcribed in written form. Qualitative observations where researchers describe or
visually record what they see. Case studies, which offer a detailed description of the person,
group or situation under investigation. Qualitative content analyses where content is
described rather than scored in some way.…read more

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Integrity: Valuing honesty, accuracy, clarity and fairness.
These ethical issues relate to the setting up and carrying out of research:
Respecting participant's confidentiality by protecting identity and other details.
Gaining participant's informed consent wherever appropriate.
Ensuring participant's have right to withdraw
Avoiding deception.
Protecting from physical and mental harm, misuse and abuse.
Ethical issues within the social and cultural environment:
Focus more on the consequence of research for wider community or society, rather than just
focusing on the individual.…read more


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