AS Psychology: Research Methods : What type of Experiment?

So many different types of experiments.. Which to choose? For what reason? Advantages and Disadvantages? I've got it covered!

HideShow resource information

Contents, so to speak..

Want to know what I'll be looking at with you? Well, These are a list of the different types of Research Methods I will be focusing on. Lab, Field, and Natural are the most common (and arguably, important, so make sure you understand those. If not, ask your teacher, as I can't claim to know everything, as Much as I'd like.)

  • Lab
  • Field
  • Natural
  • Case Study
  • Questionaires
  • Correlational
  • Interviews,
  • Observations
1 of 9


Lab Experiments are..

  • Done in controlled, artificial environments (A Laboratory, obviously..)
  • Able to completely controll all the variables.


  • Highly objective and systematic. With a completely controlled, standardised procedure.
  • Easy to obtain large amounts of detailed information
  • Allows for easy replication - Repeated tests -> Reliability! 


  • Artificial environment may lead to demand characteristics (guessing purpose of experiment and reacting to either fit to/go against expectations.) or unnatural reactions/behaviour,  - Thus can't be applied to real life?
  • Ethical concerns - eg. Applying unnatural levels of stress, etc.
  • There may experimenter bias. - eg. Bribery to make participants react in a certain way, having favourites..
2 of 9


Field experiments are...

  • In a natural setting- ie. a street, school, supermarket.
  • Controlled, much like a Lab. Experiment, only in a more aplicable to real life setting.


  • High External Validity (Meaning it is more generalisable, it's similar to real life situations.)
  • High degree of controll, as with Lab. Experiments.
  • Little or no Demand characteristics, as Participants are reacting naturally, as they are unaware it is an experiment.


  • Ethical concerns, such as lack of consent.
  • Extraneous variables (Interfences from outside world, like loud noises, etc.)
  • Difficulty in replicating, as exact situation may change (eg. Participants & their moods)
  • Sample bias: Experimenter may only pick certain people, or for example, mothers are more likely to be found in supermarkets, or Teachers at schools.
3 of 9


Natural Experiments are ...

  • Any situation in which experimenter has no controll over variables (eg. British people's patriotic mood around the Jubilee - You have to wait for the jubilee, you can't change the day!)
  • Quasi-Experiments: The independent variable is not manipulated by the researcher.


  • Participants aren't aware they are being tested on.
  • (See Field experiment, as they are extremely similar!)


  • Have to wait for a certain event, making repition difficult, ( and who likes waiting?! )
  • Extreneous variables
  • (Again, See Field Experiment, but the Ads&Disads listed here are the main few, I would say! But learn them all!)
4 of 9

Case Study

Case Studies are...

  • A detailed study or evaluation of a single indivual, event or group.


  • Produces rich, detailed data on the specific thing  you are studying


  • Cannot generalise the findings, as they can only be applied to that individual study
  • Findings are from one indivudual, and thus are not easily repeated.
5 of 9


Questionaires are...

  • Questions, like a written form of interview.


  • Gain large amounts of data quickly and cheaply. (What do you mean 'cheaply' isn't a a good word!?)


  • Only the people willing to participate in the questionaire will complete it, creating bias on people on have the time, or are interested in the study will take part.
  • Questionaires take skill, you have to be able to read/write, so may get some bias on that everybody who enters will be educated, or not a child.
  • People can lie, meaning demand characteristics.
6 of 9


Correlational Experiments are...

  • Testing a hypothesis using an association found between two variables.


  • Can collect a lot of data quicker than a lab. experminet, it is more efficient.


  • Does not show a 'cause and effect'.
  • Many Hypothesis cannot be easily examined, rendering research 'useless'?
7 of 9


Interviews are...

  • face-to-face conversations based on a question-and-answer format.
  • Structured , meaning they are scientific, quantitive and closed questions.
  • or Unstructured, meaning they are non-scientific, qualitative and open questions, more like a discussion.


  • Qualititive, rather than Quantitative in their content.
  • Good Reliability
  • Easily analysable, if structured.


  • Little relevence to research,
  • Data difficult to analyise, if Unstructured.
  • Interviewer Bias: Personalities could change course of interview.
8 of 9


Observations are...

  • Watching and reccording behaviour without interfering.


  • Observations occur in a natural setting, they don't know they are being observed.
  • Allows investigation where other methods aren't possible, perhaps as results cannot be numerically recorded.


  • Researcher Bias: Researched cannot remain unbiased. May have favourites, and one person's view will differ to another's.
  • Small-Scale replication is difficult.
  • Lack of controlled variables
9 of 9


Thegirlwhoknewtoomuch - Team GR


this is great, well sumarised, something i always find it hard to do :)

Aimee Smith


Thegirlwhoknewtoomuch wrote:

this is great, well sumarised, something i always find it hard to do :)

Oh, it's no problem! Thank you for your comment, always means a lot <3

Also, loving the fact you're a Mika fan. Mika is the best. You're the origin of love, my dear! <3 **

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Research methods and techniques resources »