Issues - G544

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  • Created by: SJ
  • Created on: 29-03-13 15:23

Ecological Validity

Ecological Validity:

  • Refers to how well a study can be related to or reflects every day, real life.
  • Studies which are high in ecological validity can be generalised beyond the setting they were carried out in.
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Strengths and Weaknesses - Ecological Validity


+ The findings can be applied to behaviour in everyday life.

+ If research takes place in a real life setting where participants are unware they are being observed, then this can avoid demand characteristics.


- Research that is very high in ecological validity, is often low in controls and standardisation so therefore low in reliability.

- If participants are being studied in an ecologically valid setting and don't know they are taking part in the research, then many ethical guidelines are being broken.

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  • Refers to how consistent a measuring device is.
  • A measurement is said to be reliable or consistent if the measurment can produce similar results if used again in similar circumstances.
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Strengths and Weaknesses - Realiability


+ Reliable research is usually highly controlled and uses objective methods to measure behaviour.

+ Extraneous variables are often eliminated due to such high levels of controls and this allows us to establish that the IV caused the DV. (cause and effect)


- If research is very controlled and standardised then it is often low in ecological validity and cannot be generalised to behaviour outside of the laboratory.

- If research is controlled and reliable then participants are often in a lab and therefore know they are being observed. This means demand characteristics can be a problem.

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  • Validity refers to whether a study measures or examines what it claims to measure or examine.
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Strengths and Weaknesses - Validity


+ Research that is valid truly measures its aims and so is easier to generalise to behaviour universally.

+ It's useful as valid research gives us insight into a wide range of behaviours, including dysfunctional behaviour, and could therefore be used to improve peoples lives.


- If research is valid and avoids all demand characteristic this is often because participants did not know they were taking part in the study or did not know the aims of it, making the research unethical.

- Research that is very valid can sometimes use unscientific methods that are not as highly controlled and therefore more difficult to replicate. Leading to lower reliability.

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  • Informed consent
  • Decpetion
  • Debriefing
  • Withdrawl
  • Confidentiality
  • Protectition from participant harm - psychological or physical
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Strengths and Weaknesses - Unethical Research


+ It's useful as you can scientifically collect data that you could not collect in an ethical way. e.g. Milgram


- High possibility of demand characteristics if participant has given consent which can effect the validity of the research.

- It could cause participants psychological or physical harm

- If it is unethical it is difficult to replicate to establish the reliability.

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