Research Methods Revision Notes

Notes on research methods for AS level Psychology

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  • Created by: Beth F
  • Created on: 23-04-12 16:55
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Research Methods
Experiment; a research method which enables a researcher to manipulate the situation a person is in and see
what effect it has on a person in order to test a theory to see if it's correct.
Aim; an idea about what the research would like to investigate and why.
e.g. The aim of this research is to investigate the dedication to time spent on studies has an effect on the grades a
person achieves at AS level. This is due to the fact that the more time spent on a subject, the more they rehearse
the information and so the strong the memory for the subject will be.
Hypothesis; a clear statement and prediction which is testable relating to the aim.
It is taken from the aim and the after the experiment the researcher will find if their hypothesis is correct.
It is created to identify a causal relationship between two variables
e.g. The grade which people achieve in AS Psychology is affected by the amount of time completing homework.
There are different types of hypothesis
Directional; a hypothesis telling you what effect the IV has on the DV.
Faster than...
Higher than...
More than...
A graph can be drawn from the prediction
e.g. The more time people spend on their psychology homework, the high the grade they will achieve.
Non-directional; a hypothesis suggesting there is going to be a difference due to the IV but not saying how.
A difference between...
A graph cannot be drawn from the predication
e.g. The grade which people achieve in psychology is affected by the amount of time they spend on their
Null hypothesis; a hypothesis saying the IV does not affect the DV and any difference will be due to chance.
e.g. the amount of time spent completing homework will not affect the grade people get in psychology. Any
difference will be due to chance.
Variables; two factors ­ independent variable and dependent variable ­ used to create a hypothesis
IV ­ cause
Time spent doing homework
DV ­ effect
Grade achieved in psychology
Variable must be operationalised so they can be changed and measured
Selection of participants and sampling techniques
Target population; the group of people who you would like to apply the conclusions to.
The sample should represent the target population as a whole
The larger the sample the more likely the conclusions will reflect the behaviour of the whole TP
Random sample; each member of the population has an equal chance of taking part
Representative sample as everybody has an equal chance
Could provide a bias sample with more than one than another (e.g. more boys than girls)
Volunteer sample; the TP are made aware of the research and can elect to take part if they wish to
Access to a variety of participants, making it more representative
Could provide a biased sample as the participants are likely to be more motivated
Opportunity sample; making use of those people from the TP who are available in a certain place at a certain
Quick to find participants
Only a small part of the TP involved/have the opportunity so may make the sample biased

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Experimental Design
How participants are used in the experiment
Independent groups; splitting the sample into two separate groups using random allocation.
Group 1 complete condition 1, group 2 complete condition 2
Results of the two groups are compared
Quick and easy to assign different conditions
Quick for participants as they only take part in one condition
Participant variables may affect the results
Participant variables; things which make us unique.…read more

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Used as the researcher may unconsciously affect the behaviour of the participants by using a more animated tone
of voice of facial expression in some conditions
The researcher may record the wrong results as they are not fully aware of what is being researched
Reliability and Validity
Reliability; a measure of consistency both within a set of scores/data and over time, so it is possible to get the
same results on subsequent occasions
Important in research to ensure there is consistency and the results are…read more

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Integrity ­ they could communicate accurately and not misrepresent findings or aims.
Informed consent; participants have the right to be informed about the nature and purpose of the research so
they can decide whether to take part.…read more

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Strengths Limitations
Can be used in natural and lab settings Relationships may be due to other extraneous
Method is often very efficient and quick to get a variables
large amount of data Difficult to establish cause and effect
Can include a number of variables at once Doesn't guarantee a causal relationship between
Indicates trends which can be used to guide the two
experiments May lack internal/external validity
Can be used in situations when it would be
impossible or unethical to manipulate the IV
Quantitative Data…read more

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Mean of d2 = 8
Square root of variance = SD = 2.8
Presentation of Quantitative Data
1. Tables; can show raw data which hasn't been treated in any way.
What experimental design has been used?
Ppt Condition A Condition
Independent Groups Repeated Measures
Condition Condition
2.…read more

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The observer can be more objective as they are not involved
Participants may change their behaviour if they know they are being observed
Some behaviours may be overlooked as they are seen as not being important
Some behaviours can't be readily observed e.g.…read more

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Observer reliability there's likely to be differences in opinions between observers
Ethical issues
Observer effects; being observed, even without knowledge of why or what's being looked at can change
behaviour (Hawthorne effect)
Self-Report Techniques
Self-report techniques; when the participant explains their views/ideas themselves, without the manipulation
of variables
Questionnaire; set of questions designed to gather information about a topic
Quick and easy to give out to a large number of people
Can yield both quantitative and qualitative data depending on the question type used…read more

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Behaviour of interviewer could influence responses given
No scope to explore interesting answers raised
Unstructured interview; when a topic or starter question is identified but any further questions are developed
throughout the interview
More detailed information can be obtained than a structured interview
There are no limits on discussion due to predetermined questions
The interviewer can tailor questions to the individual's experiences and build on interesting topics raised
Can be affected by interviewer bias as the interviewer is creating questions as they go along
It's…read more

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Phineas Gage; worked on a railway construction site when a tampering iron went straight through his head. He
survived as well as being able to speak and went back to work and lived for another 12 years. Although the accident
had no impact on his ability to function, it changed his personality from hardworking, responsible and popular, to
restless and indecisive and swore a lot.…read more


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