Research Methods - AS Notes

These are just simple notes from a lot of the Research Methods unit. These, however, are not complete. I borrowed a friends AS book during my A2 course so I could refresh my memory of AS research methods. Some of the information, such as experimental design, sampling etc. are discussed in the A2 book so I didn't need to take notes on those parts. But this document still breaks down many of the different topics, such as ethics, reliability and validity.

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Research Methods: Validity


Control ­ vital in experiments.
Want to control as many extraneous variables as possible.
If fail to control ­ results meaningless. The IV may have not had a direct impact on the DV due
to the EV's manipulation. EVs caused a change in the DV.

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Research Methods: Ethical Issues

Informed consent

Participants have the right to be given comprehensive information concerning nature and
purpose of research, and their role in it so they can make an informed decision about
whether to participate.


Where a participant is not told the true aims of the study…

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Dealing with Ethical Issues

Ethical Issue How to deal with it Limitations
Informed Consent - Asked to formerly indicate agreement to - If given information about
participate. nature/purpose, may invalidate
- Should be based on information concerning purpose of study.
nature/purpose of study and their role. - Does not guarantee…

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Extraneous Variables

Participant Variables

Any characteristics of individual participants that act as extraneous variables if an
independent groups design is used.
Age, intelligence, motivation, experience ­ act as EVs, making results meaningless.
Gender ­ males and females are psychologically different so more of one might mask effects
of IV.

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Standardised procedure ­ ensure all participants are tested under same conditions.
Includes standardised instructions, which are important to control investigator/experimenter
Double blind design ­ experiment cannot communicate cues about research aims because
they don't know them.

Dealing with Participant Effects

Single blind design ­ participant doesn't know true aims…

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Quantitative Data Analysis

Measures of Central Tendency

Inform about central (middle) values for a set of data.
`Averages' ­ ways of calculating a typical value for a set of data.
Mean ­ makes use of the values of all of the data, but it can be misrepresentative of data as…

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Evaluating Observational Research


External Validity

Observations ­ likely to have high ecological validity. Involve more natural behaviours.
Population validity may be a problem ­ may not be able to generalise if don't have a spread
of participants.

Internal Validity

Will not be valid or reliable if the coding system/behavioural…

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Studies where participants observed without their knowledge ­ issues of informed consent.
Some observations may be an invasion of privacy, in which case participant confidentiality
should be respected.
Use of one-way mirrors often involves deception.
In observations where participants aware of being studied, still issues similar to all studies

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Case Studies

Advantages Disadvantages
Rich, in-depth data. Information that may be Difficult to generalise from individual cases as
overlooked using other methods is identified. each one has unique characteristics.
Used to investigate instances of human Often necessary to use recollection of past
behaviour/experience that are rare or unethical events as…

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Evaluating Self-Report Techniques


External Validity

External validity of questionnaires/interviews ­ extent to which findings can be generalised
to other situations/people.
Major factor ­ representativeness of the sample used to collect data.

Internal Validity

Internal validity of self-report related to issue of whether questionnaire/interview/
psychological test really measures what it…


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