Psychology Research Methods

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  • Created by: Molly
  • Created on: 28-02-13 20:34

Observation

Defenition of an OBSERVATION: You do not manipulate anything, you collect your data from watching.
What are the two types of Observation & the Advantages/Disadvantages to them?

Participant Observation - When the observer acts as part of the group being                                                      watched. 
Advantage -   1. If you are acting under cover you would get a greater insight. 
                      2. You may gain access to social groups who would otherwise not                                consent to be studied. 
                      3.  Avoids the issue of observer effects. 
Non- Participant Observation - When the observer is not part of the group being                                                       observed. 
Weakness -   1. No natural behavious as participants could be aware that they are                         being watched. 
                        2. More chance of there being errors in the investigator's                                    recording of observations as it is from a distance.  

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Observation

OBSERVATIONS CAN TAKE PLACE IN THEIR NATURALISTIC SITUATION, I.E. THEIR NATURAL SURROUNDINGS, OR AN OBSERVATION CAN BE CONTROLLED, WHERE SOME VARIABLES ARE CONTROLLED AND MANIPULATED BY THE EXPERIMENTER.
 
Two types of Observations: 
Covert Observations --> "Undercover", the pp's do not know that they are being watched.

Overt Observations --> "Open", pp's know that they're being observed.  

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Structured/Unstructured Observation

Structured Observation: 
The observer determines the behaviours to be observed by making categories. They also determine the sampling method to be used.

 

Unstructured Observation:
The observer records EVERYTHING that happens.  

Sampling Methods:
Event Sampling => Keeping a tally chart of each time a type of behaviour occurs.
Time Sampling => Observations may be made at regular time intervals and coded.

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Evaluation

STRENGTHS: 
1. Observations have high ecological validity as they involve natural behaviours (ESPECIALLY IN NATURALISTIC CONTROLLED OBSERVATIONS).
2. What people say they do is often different from what they actually do, and so  observations may be more valid than questionnaires for example. 
3. Reliability can be assessed using inter-observer reliability. ( INTER RATER RELIABILITY IS WHERE 2 OBSERVERS NOTE DOWN BEHAVIOUR INDEPENDANTLY AND THEN COMPARE NOTES. IF THEY ARE THE SAME THERE IS INTER RATER RELIABILITY. 
WEAKNESSES:  
1. Ecological validity is low in covert observations, as they do not take place in a natural environment. Also, overt observations where the pp's know that they are being observed can lead to artificial behaviour from the pp's.
2.  Depending on who is being observed there may be sample bias, meaning it is not representable of all people. 
3. The coding system used in observations creates an issue with validity. Some observations may belong in one or more category, or some behaviours may not be codable.
4. Validity is also effected by the expectations of the OBSERVER. (observer bias).
5. Often, there is little control over extraneous variables, meaning that something unknown could account for a pp's behaviour.
6. Observations can be difficult to replicate.  

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Self Report

Definition of Self Report: When pp's are asked directly about what they                                                                    think/do/believe. 

Example Studies: Baron and Cohen, Loftus and Palmer, Reicher and Haslam.

Types of Self Report: questionnaires, interviews, online survey, dairy.

Question Types:
Open Question - When a question does not have a fixed choice. Often gives qualitative                                 data.
Closed Question - When a question does have a fixed choice and often gives quantitative                                data.  

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Evaluation of Self Report

Strengths: 
1. Large amounts of data can be gathered relatively quickly and also cheaply, making the sample more representative which is better to generalise from.
2. You are asking people directly, rather than trying to work out reasons for their behaviour.
3. Self Reports are replicable.
4. Closed questions are easy to score and analyse statistically.
5. On questionnaires people can remain anonymous and may not be intimidated by one to one personal contact.

Weaknesses:
1. Reponse bias factors:  EG, demand characteristics as pps may respond as they thin, the investigator wishes them to, social desirability where pps may respond so they appear in favourable light, response set where pp's may choose to answer in the same way all the time. 
2. They can lack flexibility - e.g. fixed choice answers may force pps in to answers which don't reflect their true opinion.
3. Narrow range of attitudes/behabiours may be included from a complex issue.
4. Questions/scales may be interpreted differently by pps.  

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Experiments

Feautures of experiments:
There has to be a variable that is manipulated.

Independant Variable:  Variable that the experimenter manipulates - assumed to have a direct effect on the DV.

Dependant Variable: Variable the experimenter measures, after making changes to the IV.

Extraneous Variables: Other variables apart from the IV that might affect the DV and may be important enough to provide alternative explanations for the effects.  

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Types of Experiments

Labratory Experiments: Artificial environment with tight controls over variables

Field Experiments: Experiments in a natural environment with IV manipulated by                                              reserachers.

Natural Experiment/Quasi: Natural changes in IV are used - it is not manipulated.  

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Lab Experiments - Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths: 
1. Tighter control over variables
2. Relatively easy to replicate.
3. Enable use of complex equipment.
4. Often cheaper and less time consuming

Weaknesses:
1. Demand characteristics - pps are aware of the experiment which may change their behaviour.
2. Artificial environment means low realism and low ecological validity.
3. Experimenter effects - bias when experimenter's expectations affect behaviour  

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Field Experiment - Strengths + Weaknesses

Strengths:
1. People may behave more naturally than in a labratory - more realism.
2. Easier to generalise from the results.

Weaknesses:
1. Often only weak control of extraneous variables, meaning it is difficult to replicate.
2. Can be time consuming and costly.  

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Quasi Experiments

Strengths:
1. Situations in which it would be ethically unacceptable to manipulate the independant variable.
2. Less chance of demand characteristics or experimenter bias intefering.

Weaknesses:
1. IV is not controlled by the experimenter - no replicablity.
2. No control over the allocation of pp's to groups.  

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Experimental Design

3 most common experimental designs: 

Independant groups: Testing seperate groups of people, each group is tested in a different condition.

Repeated Measures: Testing the same group of people in different conditions.

Matched Pairs: Testing seperate groups of people that have all been mached, i.e. each member of group is same age, sex, or social back ground as another member in the group.

In each case, there are one or more experimental groups, where the IV has changed and a control group where the IV has not changed.  

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Advantages + Disadvantages- Independent Measures

Strengths: 
1. Avoids order effects as different people are used each time.
Weakness:
1. More people are needed than with repeated measures.  

Strengths:
1. Avoids problem of participant variables,
2. Fewer people are needed.
Weaknesses:
1. Order effects are more likely to occur.  

Strengths:
1. Reduces participant variables.
2. Avoids order effects.
Weaknesses:
1.  Very time consuming trying to find closesly matched pairs.  
2. Impossible to match people exactly. 

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Correlations

Positive Correlation: When one variable increases, the value of another variable will also increase
Negative Correlation: When one variable decreases, the value of another variable will also decrease.

Hypothesis:
Operationalised: Must always include how the correlation is being tested, must include the word SIGNIFICANT.
One Tailed: Significant negative or positive.
Null Hypothesis: Must include there will be no relationship (no correlation)

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Correlations Evalutation

Strengths
- It indicates if there is a strong relationship between two variables and how strong that relationship is.
- Where there is a strong correlation, it suggests ideas for experimental studies to show cause and effect.
- It usees quantitative measures of each variable - more objective and reliable.

Weaknesses:
-It does not prove cause and effect relationships. It shows there is a relationship between 2 variables but it does not prove that one variable is causing the change in the other variable.
- It is reductionist - it only measures two variables.
- A strong correlation can be misleading as it implies that one variable has caused the change in the other but there is no proof of this.  

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Comments

MrsMacLean

These are really helpful thanks - really clearly presented 

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