Definition - A research design which follows one participant or group over an extended period of time and usually involves repeated measurements of their behaviour/cognitions.
Example Studies - Farrington: Studied participants from the age of 9 up to age 48 and carried out interviews,etc every couple of years.
- Freud: Studied Little Hans from age 3 to 5 years. Behaviours were reported via correspondence from the father continuously.
- Savage Rumbaugh: Studied Kanzi's language acquisition for 17 months and recorded lexigram behaviours everyday.
- Thigpen and Cleckley: Carried out over 100 hours of interviews with Eve White for a period of 14 months.
Strengths: - Shows how behaviours change over time. (e.g. Farrington)
- Same participants used over time so there is no risk of individual differences. (e.g. Freud)
Weaknesses: - Takes a long time to carry out and can be expensive. (e.g. Savage Rumbaugh)
- Subject attrition is a risk (people drop out over time) (e.g. Farrington)
Approaches/Methods: Developmental approach - shows how behaviours develop over time.
Definition: - Research design where participants of different ages or from different groups are studied simultaneously, often only once, and their behaviour is compared using one set of data.
Example Studies: Samuel and Bryant - Different age groups were compared at the same time to see if the ability to conserve developed as we grew older.
Kohlberg - The "Heinz Dilemma" and other moral dilemmas to a snapshot of different age groups and identified different stages of moral development.
Milgram - Used 40 Americans from New Haven only once to see how many volts of electric shocks they would administer.
Strengths: - Quick to carry out (e.g. Milgram)
- No subject attrition as they're only investigated once. (e.g. Samuel and Bryant)
Weaknesses: - Less valid as comparing different individuals. (e.g. Loftus and Palmer)
- Can't be sure behaviours are not due to the way they felt that day. (e.g. Milgram)
Ecological Validity - Low
Definition: - The behaviours seen are realistic and relate to everyday life.
- Artificial situations might create artificial behaviours.
- Does the research have mundane realism.
Examples: Milgram - Participants are at a prestigous (Yale) University so in an artificial environment. Also the task they were set is not something they'd normally have to do.
Baron Cohen - By limiting participants to just see eyes is not realistic as they would normally see full faces. Also, eyes were black and white photos.
Loftus and Palmer - Seeing a real car crash would make someone more emotional and the participants know it is unreal as they're watching a video.
Strengths: - Controlled environment so theres less risk of extraneous variables.
- Easier to infer cause and effect relationship if an experiment used due to control.
- Replication easier due to control.
Weaknesses: - Not naturally occurring behaviour, results cant be generalised.
- Risk of demand characteristics so participants change behaviour.
Ecological Validity - High
Examples: Piliavin - Researching behaviour in participants natural environment, i.e. on a real train in New York. Participants didn't know they were being studied so behaviour must be natural.
Rosenhan - Participant observation where researchers were admitted to hospitals as patients so psychiatrists and nurses thought they were ill and therefore they were treated as anyone else. Also, 12 real hospitals used.
Maguire - Groups naturally occurring as they are either taxi drivers (and have been for 15+ years) or not. Researcher investigating brain structure so no artificial tasks used.
Strengths: - Naturally occuring behaviour so results can be generalised.
- Less risk of demand characteristics due to lack of control.
Weaknesses: - Increased risk of extraneous variables due to lack of control.
- Difficult to infer cause and effect relationship due to lack of control.
- Study cannot be replicated due to lack of control.
Ethics - Poor
Definition: - A set of ethical guidelines set out by the BPS to protect the welfare of participants in psychological research.
Examples: Bandura - Lacked parental consent and may have caused stress to participants.
Milgram - Told the participants they were administering real shocks, deception. Also did not protect from harm as some had seizures, from becoming distressed after administering shocks.
Rosenhan - Participants were told that the pseudopatients had symptoms of hearing same sex unfamiliar voices saying 'empty' 'hollow' and 'thud', i.e. deception.
Strengths: - Can find information you may not have found without breaking ethics (e.g. Milgram found the extent to which people would obey an authority figure whilst deceiving participants)
- Deceiving participants improves validity due to less demand characteristics (e.g. Rosenhan)
Weaknesses: - By not protecting participants, can cause lasting damage (e.g. Bandura)
- May lose participants trust if deceived so future research suffers. (e.g. Milgram)
Ethics - Good
Examples: Thigpen and Cleckley - Confidentiality was kept between Eve White and the researchers as Eve White was not the participants real name so she remained anonymous.
Reicher and Haslam - All participants were screened before the study and were monitored by an ethics panel. They also had 24/7 monitoring by clinical psychologists and could pull them out at any time, with 24/7 medical and security staff. They had a full days debriefing.
Strengths: - Prevents lasting damage as participants are protected (e.g. Reicher and Haslam)
- Participants for future research will be more trusting of the researchers so will be more likely to take part (e.g. Thigpen and Cleckley)
Weaknesses: - May be unable to find necessary information due to not breaking ethics
- Lacks validity due to demand characteristics more likely to be an issue
Definition: Data which cannot be quantified but gathers a lot of information to express peoples thoughts and feelings. E.g. a case study would be used to give an unstructured interview of a person in order to investigate their life, thoughts and feelings as a whole.
Examples: Thigpen and Cleckley - Uses interviews and projective tests such as Rorschach to see what Eve White was thinking or feelings to investigate the cause of her MPD.
Griffiths - Recorded everything said by those in thinking aloud conditions.
Freud - Used a case study to gather indepth data about Little Hans' behaviour, gained via correspondence from Hans' father. For example reporting Hans' dream about giraffes or his plumber fantasies.
Strengths: - Rich, detailed information helps understand causes of behaviours (e.g. Freud)
- Improves validity due to lots of detailed information gained (e.g. Thigpen and Cleckley)
Weaknesses: - Subjective, lacks validity (e.g. Freud interpreting Hans' fathers reports)
- Difficult to analyse results (e.g. Griffiths reports of thinking aloud conditions)
Definition: - Numerical and represents behaviours statistically or as quantities. E.g. Taking note of how many correct answers were scored by participant's completing a memory test.
Examples: Loftus and Palmer - Recorded speed estimations in mph (numerical) and the number of 'yes' and 'no' answers to 'Did you see any broken glass' (quantitites)
Piliavin - Number of passengers that helped victim and number of black or white passengers who helped, representing race as a quantity.
Strengths: - Easy to analyse and use for comparisons between 2 groups (e.g. Loftus+Palmer)
- Objective results are precise, increasing validity (e.g. Griffiths recorded total no. wins)
Weaknesses: - Reductionist as reduces all behaviours to numbers decreases validity (e.g.Piliavin quantified the number of black/white passengers to help assuming someone of same race as victim are more likely to help, ignoring other factors such as that persons past experiences)
- Lacks detail and doesn't explain why behaviours occur (e.g. Loftus and Palmer doesn't explain why participants said yes or no to seeing broken glass)
Reliability - Low
Definition: - Reliability refers to how consistent a measurement is. A measurement is said to be reliable or consistent if it can produce similar results when used again in similar circumstances. Standardised procedures such as those in Loftus and Palmer involve a high level of control and encourages internal reliability (the extent to which a measurement is consistent within itself) External reliability refers to how consistent a method measures over time when repeated.
Examples: Freud - Used a case study involving Hans' father reporting Hans' behaviours via correspondence. The procedure was not standardised as unstructured observations were made and spontaneous conversations between Hans and his father were reported. Not replicable.
Thigpen and Cleckley - A case study of Eve White with no scientific standardised procedure used. Eve's subconscious mind was attempted to be investigated using projective tests which are subjective and therefore unreliable.
Strengths: - Studies with low reliability tend to gather qualitative data (e.g. Thigpen and Cleckley)
- Tend to be more ecologically valid as no controls used (e.g. Freud)
Weaknesses: - Cannot replicate findings to check they're consistent so unable to conclude whether results are unique to individual or generalisable to others (e.g. Yochelsson)
- Qualitative data is difficult to analyse (e.g. Thigpen and Cleckley)
Reliability - High
Examples: Baron-Cohen - Everyone shown standardised set of black and white eyes for the same amount of time and given the same 2 mental state terms to choose from. Control tasks used were Gender Recognition and Basic Emotion.
Maguire - Used VBM and Pixel Counting which are consistent, objective measurements.
Milgram - Learners answered same questions wrong and researcher used same 4 prods if participants wanted to leave the study.
Dement and Kleitman - Used controls to make measurements more consistent (e.g. no caffeine or alcohol and all participants woken by same doorbell noise)
Strengths: - Easier to replicate to check the consistency of findings (e.g. Milgram)
- Tends to use highly controlled lab experiments which infer cause and effect (e.g. Loftus)
Weaknesses: - Scientific equipment often used which can be expensive and time consuming (e.g. Maguire used Voxel Based Morphometry and Pixel Counting)
- Tends to lack ecological validity due to highly controlled, artificial environments (e.g. Loftus)
Validity - Low
Definition: Validity refers to whether a study measures or examines what it claims to. Face validity, for example, refers to the extent to which a measure appears on the surface to measure what it is supposed to measure. Concurrent validity is a way of assessing validity by comparing the results with another measure. External validity refers to whether the findings of a study can be generalised beyond the study, for example to populations or to real life.
Examples: Freud - Lacks population validity as the sample only used one participant, Little Hans, so the results cannot be generalised to the entire population.
Loftus and Palmer - Due to the controlled environment used the study lacks ecological validity and so the findings cannot be generalised to everyday life.
Thigpen and Cleckley - Lacks internal validity as used a case study so it can be highly subjective. For example they may misinterpet EW's transformation into EB.
Weaknesses: - Cannot accurately measure what it set out to measure (e.g. Thigpen+Cleckley)
- Limits usefulness as findings cannot be generalised (e.g. Freud)
Links: - Self reports; Case studies; Psychodynamic; Cognitive
Validity - High
Examples: Reicher and Haslam - High in concurrent validity as used cameras, self reports and physiological measurements such as saliva swabs of cortisol levels to measure Social Identity.
Dement and Kleitman - Used objective measurements such as EEG tests and controls such as no alcohol or caffeine, and the doorbell noise therefore has high internal validity.
Piliavin - Used a field experiment which is high in ecological validity so results can be generalised to every day life.
Strengths: - Useful as findings can be creditworthy and believed (e.g. Maguire)
- Allows cause and effect to be established if an experimental design is used due to control (e.g. Loftus and Palmer)
Weaknesses: - Often studies which have high internal validity and are highly controlled, they lack ecological validity so the findings cannot be generalised (e.g. Dement and Kleitman)
- Scientific equipment tends to be used as it ensures accurate measurements of behaviours, but this can be expensive and time consuming to carry out (e.g. Maguire)
Links: - Experiments; Controlled Observations; Physiological; Behaviourist; Developmental.
Usefulness - Poor
Definitions: - Research can be useful in a number of different ways; It may be useful for psychologists in further understanding of psychological phenomena; It may be useful for practitioners, e.g. in areas such as clinical psychology/forensic etc. Research may also be useful for the general public in terms of helping them understand themselves and their world.
Examples: Freud - Lacks validity as subjective, so conclusions could be wrong as Little Hans' father was a fan of Freud and may be bias so Freud may misinterpret the reports.
Loftus and Palmer - Only used students so the results cannot be generalised to others.
Bandura - Lacks ecological validity as children were not normally told to play with strange toys in an unfamiliar environment.
Strengths: - Studies that may not be useful as they lack ecological validity tend to be more scientific and can generally infer cause and effect if they are experiments (e.g. Loftus and Palmer)
- Researchers can learn from mistakes or build on existing theories to produce useful research in the future (e.g. Freud)
Weaknesses: - Limited generalisability (e.g. Bandura)
- Limited reliability (e.g Thigpen and Cleckley used case study with projective tests which are subjective)
Usefulness - Good
Examples: Bandura - Useful in explaining or understanding why children show aggressive behaviours as they may have imitated them from their environment through Social Learning.
Paul and Lentz - Token economies are useful for clinical practitioners in treating people with Schizophrenia.
Piliavin - Helps the general public to understand about bystander apathy and to stop and help more.
Milgram - Helps people to understand why the Holocaust may have occurred and why they may be more obedient infront of certain influences, such as authority figures.
Strengths: - Useful research can benefit society and improve the quality of lives (e.g. Piliavin)
- Useful research can make parents more aware of how their behaviour can influence their children (e.g. Bandura)
- Useful research can help create effective treatments for Schizophrenia (e.g. Kane)
Weaknesses: - Studies may have to be unethical to become useful (e.g. Milgram)
- A study which is useful as it is ecologically valid can lack reliability as it doesn't use controls for extraneous variables or objective, precise measurements (e.g. Piliavin)