Research Methods

What is it all about and how can we use it in our every day life. Includes lots of Definitions.

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  • Created by: Jenna k
  • Created on: 22-02-14 08:17

Hypothisis and aims

What is a Hypothisis?                                                                                                                   A precise, testable statement about the expected outcome of the investigation.

Define an experimental hypothisis.                                                                                              An Experimental hypothisis used in the context of an experiment.

What is an alternative hypothisis?                                                                                              A name given to all hypothisis except the null hypothisis.                                                      Experimental and Alternitive hypothisis can be split into Directional, Non-directional and Null hypothisis.

What is a directional hypothisis?                                                                                                  A directional hypothisis is a 'one tailed' statement that states the outcome of the investigation.

What is a Non-directional hypothisis?                                                                                        A non-directional hypothisis is a 'two tailed' statement that suggest the both outcomes are equally as likely as each other.

What is a null hypothisis?                                                                                                             A satement that says there will be no differenace between the dependant and the indepandant variable.

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Operationalising Variables

Define operationalise.

The process of devising a way of measureing variables. (To make it measurealbe)

For example Cohen et al make stress measurable through the stress index, which is comprised at ranking negitive feelings, amount of stressfull events and amount of stress felt. (Stress topic)

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Reliablitly and Validity

Internal validity    A peice of research is internal valid when the outcome, is a resutlt of the variables being manipulated.

External valididty    This occurs when the results can be generalised to the rest of the target population.                                                                                                                                  This includes Ecological validity and Population valididty. Ecological Valididty is when the results can be generalised to other settings.Population valididty is when the results can be generalised to other people.

What is Face validity?                         Eye ball test, does it look like what its sposed to measure?

What is Concurrent Validity?             This involves comparing scores on later tests to scores on newer tests to see the likeness of results.

What is Predictive Valididty?              This is the ablilty to predict the perfomance of the test. If it can be predicted then it has Predicative Valididty.

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Independant Variable (IV)                                                                                                                This is the variable the researcher will manipulate.

Dependant Variable (DV)                                                                                                                   This is the variable that is affected by the maniplation of the independant variable.

Extraneous variable (EV)                                                                                                               These are the other variables the could affect the research. If they do start to disrupt the result and change the explainations for the outcome then they become Confounding variables.

Types of EVs that come up all the time are:

Demand charactoristics are participant variables and involved the participants working out what result you want oto find so they change their answers.

Investigators effect is a situational variable that invovels the researcher being subjective when questioning the participant to get hte answers they want and not being objective.

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Controlling Exteraneous Variables

To control variables such as Demand charactoristics and Invesigators effect you can use two techniques.

Single blind technique.

This involoves the participant not knowing what the hypothisis is and which group they are in.

Double blind technique

This involves the participant not knowing anything about the procedure as well as the research assistant who does the research on behalf of the researcher theirselves.

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Random Sampling

Every person in the target population had an equal chance of being selected for the research. This has high population valididty.

Opportunity sampling

This invilves all thoughs who are avaliable around the research to help out. This would have high Demand charactoristics and therefore have lw population validity.

Volunteer Sampling

This involves people 'self-selecting' themselves to do the research. This is the least valid methods of all.

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Ethical issues

Consent - participants must agree to be involved

Deception - participants must not be lied to and information must not be withheld form them except when deception is nessecery

Debreifing - need to be told what they have been involved in and make ure they have not been harmed in any way.

Withdrawal -  all particpants have the right to withdraw form the research at all times during the research.

Confidenciality -  All infoamtion must be kept confidencial a no inforamtion should be shared.

Protection from harm -  the particiapant mental, physical and emotional person must no be changed form when they started the study.

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Experimental Methods.

Laboratory experiment

An experiment that is carried out in a laboratory environment where the independant variable is manipulated. This leads to a high level of control and Replicability. However it can lack ecological valididty  and can have participants effects that may change the raliablity of the research.

Feild experiment

This experiment takes place in a  natural environmet where the IV is still manipulated. This has a Higher level of ecological valididy and a reduction of participant effects. However there is less contol over other extraneous variables and is difficult to deduct a sample to part take in the research.

Natural experiment

This is when the researcher takes advantage of a naturally occuring variable and the IV may or may not be manipulated.  This results in very high levels of ecological valididty but very low levels of realiablity and replicability.

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Experimental Design

Repated mesures

This occurs when the same participants are used in both conditions. This alliminated participant variables and it is less time consuming getting a sample together but ther can be an order effect and there is an increased chance of Demand charctoristics.

Independent groups

This occurs when participants are randomly allocated to one of two conditions. This means there are no Order effects  and the same stimulus can be used but more participants are needed and there are more participant variables.

Matched parirs

This involves participants being matched depending on thier lifestyle and personallity types. They try to get it as close as possible so they can compare their resutls to one another. This stops any order effects and participant variables. This involves more participants and its very time consuming matching the pair exactly.

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Observation Methods

Naturalitic observation - When the researcher changes nothing and just watches. High levels of ecological validity. There is no control of the EV's.

Controlled observation - When the researcher tries to control certain variables. High control over EV's.Participants behaviour may be affected due ti the fact they are being observed.

Participant observation - When the reseacher takes a stance in the participant group. High ecological validity and qualitive data can be collected.  Researcher has to rely on memory as they cant write while they are talking.

Non-participant observation - When researcher watches the participants form a distance. Behaviour may not be prohibited due to the fact they may not know thay are being watched. Behaviours may not seem clear from a distance and relations arent formed between the participant and the researcher.

Disclosed observation - When participants are aware that they are being watched. There is a reduction in the ethical issues. Particpants behaviour may change.

Undisclosed observation - When participants are not aware that they are being watched. Reduction in Demand charctoristics and more ecologically valid as they are not aware they are being watched. There are ethical issues that may lead to distrust of the profession.

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Correlational Methods

You can use a Scater Diagram like the ones above to gage the correlation or you can us the correlation Coefficient which is the strength of the realtion ship. -1 is a very strong negitive correlation and +1 is a very strong positive correltation. The closer it is to 0 the less correlation there will be.

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Types of questions

Open questions

This allows the participant to write or respond freely. This provided qualitative realistic answers However this can make analysis difficault.

Closed questions

This allows the participants to choose an aswer form a limited range give to them. This porvides quantitive data that can easily be analysed but the questions themselves can be unrealistic and we are unsure whether the participant understood the question fully

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Quick and simple to do

Collects large amounts of data


Reduces invesigator and interpersonal effects          


Social desirablity

Answers may be untruthfull

Participants can be mislead by the questions

May be a distrotion of smaple because specific personality types part take in survays.

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Qualitative data can be obtained

Allowa free expression

Unstructerd style may incorege openness from the participants.

Questions may be asked if the question is not understood.


Difficult to analyse

More time consuming

Grater chance of interpersonal variables.

Increased risk of Investigator effects

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Case Study

A case study is research it to an Idiographic event. Idiographic means ' Relating ro an induviduals case or event'.


Qualitative data

High levels of ecological validity

Can lead to new psychological insights.


Difficult if not impossible to replicate

Difficult to generalise

High research Biased possibility

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Measures of Dispersion


Larges - smallest = Range

Strengths-  easy to calculate                                                                                                                                             Weakness - can easily be distroted by extream scores

Standard deviation

much devition from the mean                                                                                                         Small - Close to the mean                                                                                                                     Zero - all values were the same

Strengths- Takes Into account all of the values and is sensitive to the measure of dispersion.

Weakness - More difficult to caluculate

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Sensitive to Central tendency

Can be distorted by extreme scores


Unaffected by extreme scores

Does not include all values


Unaffected by extreme scores

Is affected dramatically in the change of one score.

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Content analysis

Content analysis involves catorgorising and counting how mnay times and event happens with in that catogory. Just picture a tally table and how that would be reprosented.

Pure Qualitative analysis is when a script is read a re-read unti patturns start to emerge which are recorded in simialar way to the tally table.

Not a big part of this course but you still have to know what it is.

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