Psychology G544 Research Methods

HideShow resource information

Lab Experiments

Lab experiments are precise controlled manipulation of the IV in a lab setting


  • Manipulation of IV can indicate cause and effect relationships
  • Increased control and accurate measurement = increase overall validity
  • Standardised procedures = replicable 


  • Artificial conditions > produce unnatural behaviour = lack of EV
  • Bias results > demand char/experimenter bias
  • Total control is never possible
  • Ethical problems
  • May be regarded as dehumanising > subjects being treated like lab rats by having something done to them
1 of 7

Field Experiments

Field experiments are percise controlled manipulation of IV in a natural setting


  • Greater EV > surroundings are natural
  • Less likelihood of demand char (if unaware research is taking place)


  • Difficult to control > extraneous variables possible
  • Difficult to replicate
  • Time-consuming
  • Ethical problems e.g. consent, deception and invasion of privacy etc...
2 of 7

Natural Experiments

Natural experiments involve the IV happening naturally as researcher does not intervene (cannot be manipulated)


  • Greater EV > change in IV is natural
  • Allow researchers to investigate variables that would be impractical to manipulate or investigate other ways
  • Increased validity of findings > lack of experimenter manipulation
  • Subjects unaware of study > little bias from demand char


  • Difficult/impossible to infer cause and effect > lack of control over extraneous variables & no manipulation of IC
  • Difficult to exactly replicate
  • Subjects aware of study = bias
  • Ethical problems > consent, deception etc though often possible to overcome these
3 of 7


Self reports involve participants recording their own thoughts and feelings (often can involve questionnaires of open and closed responses to researchers questions)


  • Allow researchers to access a person's reasons for behaviour as well as unobservable psychological aspects (dreams, beliefs, attitudes, experiences etc)
  • Large amounts of data > increase representativeness and generalisable results
  • Easy to replicate (specially questionnaire)
  • Closed questions > easy to score/analyse
  • Open questions > rich qualitative data


  • People may lie > say what they think researchers want to hear (demand char & social desirability)
  • Questions/scales may be interpreted differently by different people
  • Closed questions > choosing answers they do not reflect their true opinions > lower validity
  • Open questions > difficult to score and time consuming
4 of 7


Observations can be in a natural setting/controlled environment. The participants may also be involved


  • High EV > real behaviour observed (especially when unaware of study)
  • Rich date > unstructured observation/participant observation used
  • Low demand char > people unaware
  • Can be used when difficult/ethical to manipulate variables
  • Can be used to generate hypothesis


  • Lack of control > difficult to hold extraneous variables in natural observation
  • Difficult to conclude cause & effect > no variables manipulated
  • Observer bias & difficult to ensure inter-rater reliability
  • Difficult to replicate in natural observations > circumstances may be unique
  • Ethical issues 
5 of 7


Correlation is a statistical technique - looks are whether two variables/factors are related


  • Gives precise info on the degree of relationship between variables
  • No manipulation required > can be used in situations were experimentation = impossible/unethical
  • (Some cases) strong significant correlations can suggest ideas for the experimental studies to determine cause and effect 


  • No cause and effect can be inferred
  • Technique is a subject to any problems associated with the method used to collect data e.g. self report or observation may have been used to measure variables 
6 of 7

Case Studies

Case studies involve a detailed study collecting a wide variety of data on an individual/small group


  • Some circumstances where it is impossible to have a large number of participants making case studies ideal
  • Generate large amount of detail and rich qualitative data > give a very full picture of the situation under scrutiny


  • Case studies rarely produce enough qualitative data for stat tests > means some people regard case studies as little more than anecdotal evidence
  • Can lack objectivity when involving an intense relationship between researcher and participant > researcher may become too involved and may alter the natural course of participants life events & experiences
7 of 7


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

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