Psychology research methods PDF document

First of all, sorry it's a bit dull - but, let's face it, research methods isn't an easy topic to make exciting. Still, I hope this helps to clear things up for you.

If you find any mistakes, or I haven't explained something very well, then please leave a comment or send me a personal message. :)

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  • Created by: Amy
  • Created on: 04-01-12 19:51
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Validity ­ how true or legitimate something is as an explanation of behaviour ­ this involves control,
realism and generalizability.
How science works
Observe human behaviour
Develop explanation/hypothesis
Test hypothesis
Collect results
Draw conclusions
Independent variable (IV) ­ the variable that you change in an experiment e.g. if you were testing
how age affects memory, the independent variable would be the age of the participants.
Dependent variable (DV) ­ the variable that you measure in an experiment e.g.…read more

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Hopefully you should be able to generalise your findings to the general population ­ if all of the
participants in a study are from the same place, for example, or if they are all university students,
you may not be able to do this.
Internal validity
This concerns what happens inside a study.…read more

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So basically:
- Participants will need to know everything that's going to happen
- Their signature is needed
- If participants are under 16, then parental consent is needed
An example of a study in which informed consent wouldn't be obtained is one in which involves
deception, or one in which debriefing isn't possible.
This is an issue because in experiments where informed consent isn't obtained, participants may not
want to take part in psychology research again, which harms the reputation of psychology.…read more

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Are ethical guidelines of any use?
Allows researchers who do unethical Very difficult for studies to stick to all the
research to be punished ­ improving the rules and still be valid, so ethics
reputation of psychology committees have to be slightly flexible ­
they're only guidelines, not rules!
The protection guideline may seem
unfair, and it could be argued that the
rules should be the same for everybody
­ is it right to put people under more
stress just because their everyday life is…read more

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Deception The need for deception is Cost-benefit decisions are
approved by an ethics subjective, and the costs and
committee, weighing up benefits may not be apparent
benefits of the study against before the study is carried out ­
costs to the participants even afterwards, there is no
Participants should be fully scientific way to measure costs
debriefed after the study ­ and benefits.
psychologists tell the Even after debriefing,
participants the true aims of participants may feel
the study.…read more

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Hypothesis ­ a precise and testable statement of the relationship between two variables.
Directional hypothesis ­ states the direction of the predicted difference between two conditions or
two groups of participants. For example: participants do better on a test when tested in the same
room as they were taught rather than tested in a different room. Psychologists use a directional
hypothesis when past research (a theory or a study) suggests that the findings will go in a particular
direction.…read more

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Replication easy (ecological) validity
environment where -Shows cause and -Experimenter bias
variables can be effect -Demand
carefully controlled. -Easy to use, characteristics
equipment used
Field experiment An experiment -High ecological -Less control over
conducted in a more validity IV/DV
natural environment, -No/reduced demand -Replication may be
where the IV is still characteristics difficult
deliberately controlled -Difficult to use
by the researcher.…read more

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Extraneous variables
We have already looked at what extraneous variables are, and know that they must be controlled to
keep the experiment valid (never use the word `fair' to describe experiments ­ use the word `valid'
instead). There are three different types of extraneous variable:
Participant variables
A participant variable is any characteristic of individual participants. They only act as extraneous
variables in an independent groups design, and even then they sometimes don't. Participant
variables are controlled with a repeated measures design.…read more

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Investigator effects are anything the investigator/experimenter does which has an effect on a
participant's performance in a study, other than what was intended. This includes direct effects,
such as leading the participant give an answer the experimenter `wants', or responding to
participants in a more encouraging way than others.…read more


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