Research methods A2 Psychology

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  • Created on: 14-01-13 19:52
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Aim: General purpose of an investigation. Often includes previous research
(theories/studies) and explaining why the researcher intends to conduct the study.
Hypothesis: A precise, testable statement or prediction about the expected
Experimental hypothesis: When the IV is manipulated, there will be a change
in the DV
Null hypothesis: When the IV is manipulated, there will be no change in the DV
and any change will be due to chance
Directional/one-tailed: States the direction of the predicted difference
Non-directional/two-tailed: Predicts a difference but not the direction
Hypothesis must be operationalised ­ a set of behaviours that can be
measured or manipulated
Independent variable: The variable that changes or varies
Dependent variable: The variable that changes because of the DV
Other variables much be controlled to be confident that the IV caused the DV
Extraneous variable: An unwanted variable that the researcher may be
unaware of, such as participant variables, situational variables and
experimenter variables
Confounding variables: An extraneous variable which affects the DV
Quantitative data: In numerical form. Involves experiments, content analysis,
closed questions and structured observations.
Qualitative data: In non-numerical form. Involves case studies, unstructured
interviews and open questions. Focus on subjective views and recording
thoughts and feelings
Population: The total collection of people from which a sample is taken
Sample: A selection of participants taken from the population so the
researcher can make generalisations about the population as a whole
Representative sample: As similar as possible to the target population
Sampling bias: Contains an over-representation of a selection of the target
population and does not correctly represent the population

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Abstract: Summary of research and findings
Introduction: What they intend to study and why, previous research
Aim and hypothesis: Purpose and clear hypothesis
Method: Design, method, standardised procedure, variables, ethics, materials,
recording, sampling, brief and debrief.…read more

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Sometimes psychological harm due to stressful environment
Deception often used as may withhold information
Field experiments: Conducted in a natural environment, IV is manipulated
Natural setting ­ high ecological validity ­ can be generalised beyond setting
Less demand characteristics as participants are less aware of taking part
Lack of control over confounding variables ­ lower internal validity and harder to
determine cause and effect relationships
Hard to replicate to prove reliability
More expensive and time consuming to set up and carry out
Ethical issues ­…read more

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NATURAL High ecological validity No cause and effect established
Less demand characteristics Hard to replicate
Fairly easy to replicate No cause and effect established
Control ­ high internal validity Artificial ­ low ecological validity…read more

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Experimental design:
Independent groups design:
Each participant randomly allocated to one condition
No order effects ­ each participant only experiences one condition - less
demand characteristics
Can use same material and equipment in both conditions ­ convenient
Individual differences between conditions by chance ­ those with a particular
characteristic may be in one condition e.g.…read more

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Time consuming and difficult to find closely matched pairs
Needs more participants than repeated measures design
Design Advantages Disadvantages
GROUPS No order effects Individual differences
Less demand More Ps needed
MEASURES No individual differences Order effects
Less Ps needed Demand characteristics
More material needed
Less individual differences Time consuming
No order effects Difficult
Less demand More Ps needed
Same material…read more

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Behavioural categories used to record particular behaviours. Time sampling (recorded
at equal time intervals) or event sampling (recorded each time it occurs).…read more

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Ethical issues ­ informed consent and confidentiality
Participant observation: Observer joins in with participants
Allows observers to gain some understanding of causes of behaviour
Useful for studying behaviour in groups
Difficult to record
Experimenter bias ­ subjective
Non-participant observation: Observer watches from afar, no direct involvement
Easier to remain objective
Harder to understand behaviour from participant's point of view
Covert: Participants do not know they are being watched
Unaware so less demand characteristics ­ more valid
Overt: Participants know they are being watched
More…read more

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Avoids some ethical problems ­ no direct involvement with manipulation or
Easy to replicate ­ e.g. data can come from questionnaires
May be extraneous variables affecting the results ­ cannot establish cause and
effect relationships
Only uses quantitative data ­ may be reductionist and not holistic
Can only measure linear relationships
Case studies
A detailed, in-depth study of an individual or small group and can involve a range of
techniques such as observations, questionnaires, interviews and experiments.…read more

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Gather information about thoughts which is difficult to investigate in other ways
Can obtain both quantitative and qualitative information
Social desirability bias ­ may not respond truthfully ­ decreases validity
A systematic collection of data on a specific topic. Can be used in a wide range of
situations ­ face to face, post, newspaper, phone, internet etc. Should be kept simple
and clear to be understood.…read more




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