Psychological Research Methods Revision Pack

Revision pack for unit 4 Psychology A level, althougn it could probably be used for any subject that uses research methods, so sociology for example. Includes specification - all the topics and units, as well as break down of all research methods (advantages and disadvantages). Good Luck.

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  • Created on: 18-04-13 08:42
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Psychological Research & Scientific
The application of The major features of science, including replicability,
scientific method in objectivity, theory construction, hypothesis testing, the use
psychology of empirical methods.
Validating new knowledge and the role of peer review.
Designing psychological Selection and application of appropriate research methods.
investigations Implications of sampling strategies, for example, bias and
Issues of reliability, including types of reliability,
assessment of reliability, improving reliability.
Assessing and improving validity, including internal and
Ethical considerations in design and conduct of
psychological research.
Data analysis and Appropriate selection of graphical representations.
reporting on investigations Probability and significance, including the interpretation of
significance and Type 1/Type 2 errors.
Factors affecting choice of statistical test, including levels of
The use of inferential analysis, including Spearman's Rho,
MannWhitney, Wilcoxon, ChiSquared.
Analysis and interpretation of qualitative data.
Conventions of reporting on psychological investigations.
Application of Scientific Method
Major Features of Science
Scientific method is used to carry out research across the sciences. It involves observation which
needs explaining so testable hypotheses are developed and research is planned and carried out that
will test the hypotheses. Results of the research will lead to the support/rejection of the hypotheses.
The science of psychology has to be objective, controlled and checkable according to Coolican
One way to examine behaviour is the empirical method, which involves collecting large amounts of
information then thoroughly studying the data in order to formulate a theory/research a conclusion. It
involves using scientific procedures such as experiments where there's deliberate manipulation of 1
variable, while keeping all the other variables constant. Also in experiments, the participants are
randomly allocated to conditions, so the experimental method can determine cause and effect,
including lab and field experiments.
Psychology relies on the hypotheticodeductive model, involving testing theories by generating
hypotheses. These are simply testable predictions generated from theories.

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Empiricism: Information gained through direct observations/experiments.
Objectivity: Observations & experiments should be unaffected by bias (e.g. researcher expectancy)
Being objective means the findings don't depend on the person doing the research. High levels of
objectivity increases the confidence in the results and show it would make no difference who did the
research as if carried out objectively the same results would've been obtained.…read more

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Can behaviour be measured objectively? Both experimenter bias and demand characteristics
compromise validity BUT Heisenberg found you can't even measure a subatomic particle without
altering its behaviour (uncertainty principle)
Scientific approach is reductionist, simplifying complex phenomena and theories down to basics.
Science is determinist in its search for causal relationships
Science takes a nomothetic approach, looking to make generalisations about people and find
similarities. Some psychologists argue idiographic (individual) approaches are more suitable when
treating patients.…read more

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Designing psychological investigations
Laboratory experiments: Experiment carried out in a controlled environment where the independent
variable is manipulated. All other extraneous variables are controlled and participants are randomly
allocated to conditions.…read more

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Problems with internal validity ­ many extraneous variable that can't be controlled, meaning we
can't conclude cause & effect.
No random allocation to conditions.
Correlation study: An investigation into the possible association of two variables.
Positive correlation: as one variable increases, the other variables increases e.g. level of
attachment increases, as does number of smiles given.
Negative correlation: as one variable increases, the other variable decreases.…read more

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Observer can record
observations as occur
making them more
reliable ­ memory.
Disclosed Participants are aware Reduction of ethical Increase in reactivity as
observation they're being observed issues ­ informed observee may change
­ overt observation consent. behaviour as they know
Increases trust between they're being watched.
researchers & public Increase in demand
Undisclosed Participants aren't Reduction of Ethical issues.
observation aware they're being reactivity as May distrust
observed ­ covert participants doesn't psychologists in future.
observation.…read more

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Gathering of detailed info about an individual/group of people.
Typically involves the production of a case history ­ records relevant details about individual e.g.
employment history, family relationships, medical history, and socio-economic status.
Can be longitudinal or retrospective.
Additional info can be gathered using range of other methods including interviews, surveys and
Method is descriptive: allows for collective of qualitative data, rich in detail.
Research is often focused on a particular aspect of behaviour: narrow focus.…read more

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Can use the More different
conditions between same stimulus participants conditions.
conditions materials. required.
could be due to
differences in
small samples.
Matched Participants When you've No order Difficult to Monozygotic
pairs are closely got a lot of effects. match twins
matched time, money & Good attempt participants (identical)
with participants, as at controlling exactly. provide
another, they need to participant More researchers
then be closely variables. participants with a very
randomly matched. required. close match
allocated to for participant
either one or variables.…read more

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We aren't clear as to how the
the researcher. respondent has understood the
Design of interviews:
Particularly useful for gathering more detailed information and enabling a more natural and flexible
approach to questioning.
Generally involves a conversational exchange.
Interviewer usually has certain topics they want to explore.
Possible structures for interviews can be viewed along a scale from highly structured to very open.
The more the researcher knows about the topic and range of possible answers, the more structured
the interview becomes.…read more

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Participant variables: variables connected with the participants e.g. intelligence, age, gender and
personality. These are controlled through the experimental or participant design, such as the
matched pairs design.
Reliability: means that 2 or more measurements/observations of the same psychological event will
be consistent with each other.
Validity: means that we're actually measuring what we claim to be measuring.
Internal validity: a research study/experiment has internal validity if the outcome is the result of the
variables that are manipulated in the study.…read more


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