PY3 Research Methods and Issues in Psychology

Model essays are done to a A-B grade. I achieved an A with these notes. 

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Sharnjit Kaur
Discuss the Advantages of the use of Scientific Methods in Psychology
When conducting research there are several advantages using scientific methods. Prior to the 1950's,
where it was widely seen as a philosophy, psychologists like Freud developed psychological research
which wasn't supported by scientific methods making his findings open to criticism as his claims could
not be tested. However, now psychology is considered as a science. The use of scientific methods
enables psychologists to develop theories which are supported by research.
A study that has research supporting a theory can be replicated in order to see if it is highly reliable.
This is a key advantage of scientific methods as it allows the researcher to perform the exact same
experiment with the same conditions and same equipment (using a standardised procedure) and achieve
similar results making it reliable. For example, in Skinner's study of operant conditioning, he replicated
his study many times and obtained consistent results, supporting his theory.
In addition, as scientific methods are controlled, it enables researchers to demonstrate a cause and
effect relationship. The experimental method is the only way to demonstrate a casual relationship where
one variable is manipulated to see the effect on a dependent variable. For example, in Watson and
Rayner's study of classical conditioning, it became scientific as it was conducted in a controlled
laboratory which disabled the effect of extraneous variables from occurring. This suggests phobias are
due to classical conditioning and not any other factor.
Another advantage is scientific methods are empirical. Empirical data can be obtained through direct
observation or experimentation, rather than reasoned arguments or beliefs. In psychology, a scientific
method aims to collect facts linked to the research. This is a strength as in certain situations, such as
therapies, individuals may lie about how effective the therapy was. If the claims of the individual are true
then it would be supported by empirical data therefore, justifies the claims.
Furthermore, another advantage is that scientific methods are falsifiable. This suggests research can be
proven wrong or right. With empirical data there is a distinction between assumptions and knowledge in
science. Assumptions involve doubt and can be based on what we think but do not know. Knowledge is
based on empirical evidence, logical thinking and what can be confirmed, it is in other words factual and
reliable. This is a strength as we are unable to prove a hypothesis correct we can only reject the null
hypothesis. This leads to psychologists developing new ideas and uncovering facts. For example,
Milgram tested the hypothesis `Germans are different' to challenge widely held anecdotal beliefs. Many
historians tried to explain why many Jews were killed during Hitler's regime Germans are more
obedient. This hypothesis was proven wrong and led to the development about how obedient we are,
especially to authorities.
Also Rogers explained that scientific methods can be used to prevent someone from deceiving
themselves by subjective hunches that can develop. In other words scientific research can test even the
most coloured hypotheses or theories in an objective way. This is a strength as scientific methods have
operationalised variables which are controlled and measured. For example, in Gardner & Gardner's
research with Washoe, language was operationalised as signs that were used spontaneously, seen by
three different researchers and used for 15 days in a row. This meant that it was not the different
researchers' opinions as to whether Washoe had correctly signed and shown language.
In Buss's study he collected statistics which allowed him to compare male and female scores as well
as examining cultural differences between countries. This is an advantage of scientific methods as the
high control also decreases the amount of extraneous variables that may influence the results this
establishes a stronger cause and effect relationship, increasing the internal validity.
Discuss the Disadvantages of the use of Scientific Methods in Psychology
Psychology is considered as a science through the use of scientific methods of experimentation to
support theories. Although there are many advantages for scientific methods, many psychologists see
there are fields of psychology that do not support the scientific approach as they see science is unable
to measure human behaviour
Scientific methods used in psychology tend to lack validity, specifically ecological validity, as the data
cannot be generalised to real life settings as it is conducted in a controlled environment. It also lacks

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Sharnjit Kaur
internal validity as experimenter bias and demand characteristics that go with such research does not
lend itself to us gaining any true understanding of human behaviour or real life thinking processes. With
human participants, demand characteristics are inevitable whenever they are aware they are taking part
in a study. This essentially means recorded behaviour is not the true behaviour of the participants and
this undermines the validity of the findings.…read more

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memory study participants were not told the real aim of the study but the consequences did not affect
the participants. On the other hand, in Asch's study of conformity participants were also not told the true
aim of the study and they were made to feel duped and embarrassed. Also in Rosenhan's study of sane
and insane places led to the doctors and nurses being deceived.…read more

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information withheld from the participant is told. They could withdraw their data from the research if they
are not happy once they are debriefed. The importance of debriefing can be seen in Milgram's' study as
participants reported they found his obedience study worthwhile because they had learnt something
important about themselves and about human behaviour.
Informed consent can also be an ethical issue as the researcher may not accurately tell what the
research entails when they choose to take part.…read more

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as he takes the Utilitarian approach whatever produces greatest good for the greatest number of people.
In 2006 Singer endorsed the use of primates compared to the benefit to 40,000 people was ethically
Another reason to research using nonhuman animals is that they do not display demand characteristics
and therefore their use would increase the objectivity of a study.…read more

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Field experiment: -Higher mundane realism; -Extraneous variables are less
conducted in a more natural higher ecological validity easy to control and can't be
setting. IV is manipulated and -Less likely for experimenter replicated than easily
DV is measured.…read more

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Meta-Analysis -More reliable as it analyses -Research designs in different
Researchers combine results results from several studies studies sampled may vary
from studies with similar -Studies tend to be making them lack validity as
aims/hypotheses to come up contradictory; meta-analysis they are not truly comparable
with a general conclusion allows to reach an overall
Role Play -Researchers can study -There are ethical issues about
Participants take a certain role behaviour that could be ethical placing people in
to observe behaviour as if…read more

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preexisting test. The new test is valid if they concur. External validity: can the results be
generalised to other situations and people. Lab experiments lack ecological validity. If a small
sample is used it lacks population validity
Observations: Internal validity: observer bias what the observer sees may be influenced by
their expectation. External validity: Tend to have high ecological validity (natural behaviours)
Questionnaires and Interviews: Internal validity concurrent and content (did the
researcher measure what they intended do results match hypothesis) validity.…read more

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Opportunity The easiest method to Biased on behalf of the researcher- the
(researcher decides the conduct as the first people researcher is only likely to ask people
participant needed if available are asked to act as who look approachable and were
they appear suitable) participants which means it is available on the day they were collecting
less time consuming for the participants, so the sample is biased and
researcher can not easily be generalised to the
target population
Extraneous Variables: Anything but the…read more

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behaviour from ppts. ­ Very unethical
Unstructured: Observer records all relevant behaviour with no system
Structured: Observer uses behavioural categories and sampling procedures to control the
Naturalistic: All variables are free to vary
Controlled: Certain elements of the situation are controlled by the researcher
Reliability: Observer should make the study operationalised and objective, cover all
component behaviours and be mutually exclusive (not have to mark two categories at one
time).…read more



You're a lifesaver. Do you know what grades the essays are?


I'd say the essays range from A-B, but i got an A in the module :)

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