Research Methods (part 1)

A brief overview of research methods for psychology at as, bear with me i am in the making of them :-)

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you are expected to understand features of investigation design - the planning and construction of research methods.

RESEARCH METHODS can be defined as:

"the means by which explanations are tested"

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Quantative and Qualitative

Quantitative methods:

  • involved a measurement of numerical quantity
  • e.g. the amount of 'yes' or 'no's' answered in a questionnaire

Qualitative methods:

  • give participants the option to express & describe their answer more fully
  • give a more in-depth answer
  • e.g. during an interview, the participant may be asked for their opinion of a controversial subject
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Laboratory Experiments

Laboratory Experiments take place in a controlled environment with random members of the public as participants.

two advantages:

  • the equipment is precise and reliable
  • the experiment can be repeated to check accuracy

two disadvantages:

  • it is unrealistic and artificial - cannot be applied to real life situations
  • the observers may be biased - 'experimental bias'
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Field Experiments

Field Experiments are conducted in a natural environment, where the independant variable is manipulated. (for example, something may be place on a street to test reactions etc)

two advantages:

  • the participants behaviour is natural - high ecological validity
  • no demand characteristics as participants are unaware they are expected of anything

two disadvantages:

  • can't control surrounding activity (e.g. weather)
  • difficult to replicate - conditions are never exactly the same again
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Natural Experiments

Natural Experiments are when the experiment is taken into natural surroundings, where the independant variable occures naturaly with no manipulation.

two advantages:

  • results can be generalised as natural behaviour
  • no demand characteristics as participants are unaware

two disadvantages:

  • ethical issue - don't have the participants consent
  • can't replicate the experiment
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Correlational Analysis

Correlational Analysis measures the relationship behaviour between two variables to find a trend or pattern (positive, negative or no correlation), commonly on a graph.

two advantages:

  • allows predictions
  • easy to do (no manipulation of data)

two disadvantages:

  • only works for linear relationships
  • only works for extraneous relationships
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Naturalistic Observations

Naturalistic Observations is when you measure naturally occuring observations - observers a voluntarily involved.

two advantages:

  • high external validity - can be generalised
  • practical method, no manipulation of people

two disadvantages:

  • no control over other variables
  • observers could be biased
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Interviews are 'face to face conversations', and they can be formal or informal.

two advantages:

  • complex issues are best dealt with face to face, any misunderstandings can be sorted or explained
  • easy to replicate

two disadvantages:

  • some answers/responses may not be truthful
  • interviewers have to be trained
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Questionnaire Surverys

Questionnaire Surveys are 'self-reports', participants record their own answers to a pre-set list of questions.

two advantages:

  • easy to replicate (can just print off x amount of copies)
  • takes large samples

two disadvantages:

  • low response rates
  • biased samples (only a certain group of people may respond)
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Case Studies

Case Studies are in-depth, detailed investigations of one individual or a small group.

two advantages:

  • information relates to a single, real person
  • provides a great depth of understanding

two disadvantages:

  • no two case studies are a like, so they cannot be generalized
  • they are dependent on participants having a clear and full memory
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Independent Variable (IV) - the variable that is directly manipulated to see the effect it has on the DV

Dependent Variable (DV) - the variable that is measured, it is dependent on the IV

Extraneous Variables (EV) :D - variables that may have an effect on the DV, that can controlled (e.g. age of participants, time limits etc). we like EV's!

Confounding Variables (CV) :( - variables that may have an effect on the DV that can't be controlled (e.g. weather, mood of participants etc). we don't like CV's, they're 'confusing'

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Reliability and Validity

definitions -

Pilot Study: 'small' scale practice run of experiment

Participant Variables: confounding effects from characteristics of participants

Situational Variables: confounding effects as a result of environmental influences

Experimenter Variables: confounding effects from experimenters themselves (if they are biased etc)

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Reliability and Validity

Internal Reliability: within a single experiment, being consistent

External Reliability: getting the same results every time - compare with other studies

Internal Validity: the experiment is measuring what it's supposed to be measuring (no experimenter effects, no demand characteristics, use of standardised instructions)

External Validity: results can be applied to other people, time and place (the wider population)

Ecological Validity: the environment reflects the task (it's realistic)

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