Research Methods

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Case Study


  • Rich detailed data - produces high realism therefore provides valauble insight into situation being studied 
  • If a single case contradicts a well established theory thus a theory is devised to accomadate findings


  • Findings are unlikely to be replicated as its an individual enquiry therefore hard to generalise
  • The experimenter may form relations with the subject due to the indepth interveiws therefore findings may be subjective
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  • Provides precise quantitative measure of the strength of the relationship between the variables therefore high in reliablity 
  • Allows the measurement of many variables therefore when trying to unravel complex relationships prove powerful tool


  • Only measures degree of interelationship between the variable therefore not always possible to establish cause and effect
  • Non-linear relationships cannot be measured using correnational techniques, is is important therefore to plot non-linear relationship to visually understand what is happening
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  • Contains high levels of realism and ecological validity if reasearcher remains undetected therefore high in validity
  • Can lead to indentify appropriate hypothesis and prevent time from being wasted by carrying out unrealistic experiments therefore useful premlinary tool


  • May be difficult to control variables such as differences between naturalistic settings, so when repeating the experiment it may lack reliability 
  • Levels of control over cofounding variables is poor therefore difficult to establish cause and effect
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Interviews - Self Report


  • Simple once developed and piloted, quantitative data can be obtained therefore easier to compare the findings and spot a trend
  • Large amounts of info can be gathered fairly quickly and cheaply from large amount of respondants therefore increasing validity


The wording may be ambigous therefore individuals may interpret questions in a different way resulting in a variety of answer therefore making it harder to compare

Often only 30% or fewer sent the questionnaire complete it. This means that the sample is not representative of the wider group from which it was drawn therefore findings cannot be generalised beyond those who participated.

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  • Carefully designed and easy to obtain similar result by other researchers therefore high in reliability 
  • Easier to control cofounding variables than any other setting therefore high levels of precision can be achieved and a cause and effect relationship can be established 


High levels of control may make the situation artificial and different from real life situations therefore a loss of validity 

Results may be generalised to a specific place therefore lack of ecological validity

Participant may try and second guess the aim of the experiment therefore demand characteristics threaten validity

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  • Artificiality of the lab exp avoided  improving ecological validity therefore findings can be generalised to real life situations
  • Participants less aware of the experiment therefore likely to influence of demand charactheristic are reduced


  • Hard to control cofounding variables therefore mroe difficult to replicate precisely and gather similar findings for field exp
  • Results cannot be generalised to ther real life situations as other situations would differ from the ones that took place

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  • Participants are less concious of taking part therefore a reduction in demand characteristics 
  • The experimenter does not have to intervene directly in research situations therefore a reduction in investigator effects


  • Investigator does not control directly IV therefore this greatly increases the possibility of cofounding variables affecting the results 
  • Naturally occuring situations reasearcher wishes to study may occur rarely, thus reducing opportunity for research
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