Glossary of terms

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A colleugue who pretends to be a participant during a study but is in fact just following the rules
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A correlation is a statistical measurement of the relationship, either positive or negative, between two variable
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A way of controlling for order effects
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Demand Characteristics
Aspects of the experiment that may cause the participants (or the experimentor) to change the way they behave
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Dependent variable (DV)
The effect of the IV, or what is measured, in an experiment
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Ethical Guidelines
The British Psychological Society (BPS) issued a set of ethical guidelines for research involving human participants. They are designed to protect the wellbeing and dignity of research participants
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External (ecological) validity
The methods, materials and setting of the study must approximate the real-world that is being examined
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Field Experiment
Field experiments are done in the everyday (i.e. real life) environment of the participants. The experimenter still manipulates the independent variable, but in a real-life setting (so cannot really control extraneous variables)
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Hawthorne effect
when people are aware that they are being studied, they are likely to try harder on tasks and pay more attention
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a precise, testable statement of what the researchers predict will be the outcome of the study
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Independent groups design
Different participants are used in each of the conditions
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Independent Variable (IV)
The variable that is manipulated (changed) between experimental conditions
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Internal (experimental) validity
The extent to which the measurment technique measures what it is supposed to. E.g. whether the IV really caused the DV or was it another factor (how much control)
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Inter-observer reliability
whether, in an observational study, if several observers are coding behaviour, their codings or ratings agree with each other
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Labatory experiment
conducted in a well-controlled environment – not necessarily a laboratory – and therefore accurate measurements are possible.
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Matched participant design
Separate groups of participants are used who are matched on a one-to-one basis on characteristics such as age or sex to control the posible effect of individual diferences
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Natural experiment
an experimental method where the IV to be studied is naturally occurring rather than being manipulated by the researcher, e.g. gender or age
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Naturalistic observations
a research method where psychologists watch peoples behaviour but remain inconspicuous and do nothing to change or interfere with it
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Null Hypothesis
a statement of no difference or no corrleation
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Operationalisation of variables
defining variables in order to manipulatethe IV and measure the DV. E.g. performance on a memory test could be operationalised as 'the number of words remembered from a list of words'
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Opportunity sampling
asking whoever is available and willing to participate. It is not likely to be representative as it will probably comprise people from similiar backgrounds e.g. same school,friend of researcher,specific workplace
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Order (practice/fatigue) effects
when a repeated measures design is used, problems may arise from doing the same task twice, such as being better than before as they have had (practice), or they have become worse as they are tired or lost interest(fatigue)
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Pilot Studies
a trial run of research with a small number of participants for researchers to make necessary adjustments and to save wasting valuable resources
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Qualitative Data
rich and detailed data collected in real-life settings, e.g. peoples subjective opinions
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Quantitative Data
objective, precise, usually numerical, data that can be statistically analysed
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Random Sampling
having the names of the target population and giving everyone an equal chance of being selected. Making it unbiased
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the consistency of results. So, if something is measured more than once, the same effect should result
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Repeated measures design
the same group of participants is used in each of the conditions
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Research aim
a general statement of the purpose of the study. It should make clear what the study intends to investigate
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Self-report methods
a way of finding out about peoples behaviour by interviewing them or by asking them to fill out questionnaires
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Semi-structured interviews
participants are asked a number of pre-set questions, with the opportunity to ask new questions based on previous answers
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Structured interviews
participants are asked the same pre-set questions in the same order
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Social desirability bias
when people try show themselves in the best possible way, so that when answering questions in interviews or questionnaires they give answers that are socially acceptable but not truthful
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Unstructured interviews
participants can discuss anything freely and the interviewer makes new questions on the bias of previous answers
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Volunteer ampling
self selected participants volunteer to participate, e.g. by responding to advertisements
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Extraneous variables
factors other than the IV which may affect the DV
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the aim
a general statement about the purpose of an investigation
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Research question
similiar to an aim but phrased as a question
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Alternate hypothesis
A statement with a possible result from the experiment
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One tailed hypothesis
A hypothesis which will go in one direction and give a precise answer to what the result will be, e.g. girls will eat more chocolate than boys
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Two tailed hypothesis
A hypothesis without an accurate answer to what the end result might be, it can go in either direction, e.g. There will be a significant difference between the amount of chocolate eaten by girls and boys
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True experiment
The conditions are set up by the researcher
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Quasi experiment
The participants are already in the conditions, the IV is naturally occuring
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The extent to which the study measures what it set out to measure
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Face validity
The extent to which the measuring tool appears to be measuring what we think it is, e.g. can we measure social status by asking about salary?
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Criterion (predictive) validity
The extent to which the measuring tool is able to predict a future behaviour or attitude, e.g. can a stress questionnaire predict if someone will have a stress related illness in the future?
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Construct validity
The extent to which the measuring tool measures the theoretical construct that it is supposed to be based on, theory, intelligence covers a range of abilities-does an IQ test also cover all these abilties?
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Concurrent validity
The extent to which a measuring tool correlates with a previously validated measuring tool, e.g. If you create a new test for depression levels, you can compare its performance to previous depression tests, if they are similar,it is high validity
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Internal validity
Refers to what actually happens in the study, e.g. did the IV really cause the DV to change or was it some other cofounding variable? how much control within the experiment
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External validity
Refers to whether the results can be generalised beyond the current study, e.g. population validity-can it be generalised to other populations?and ecological validity-can it be applied to the real world
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Researcher (observer) effects
negative influences researchers can have on a study by their presence or beliefs
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A single blind experiment
where participants are unaware of the level of IV in which they are performing. Helps reduce demand characteristics
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A double blind experiment
Where neither the participant or the researcher working with them are aware of the IV, helps reduce demand characteristics and researcher bias
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Participant variables
individual differences between participants(age,skills,personality) that could affect there response in a study
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Situational variables
factors in the environment surrounding participants that can effect their performance on the DV, which could obscure the effect of the IV
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A measure of reliability that uses the same test twice, if the participants two sets of scores correlates well, the measure has good reliability
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A measure of reliability that compares 2 halves of a test, if the two halves of the tests correlate well the measure have good reliability
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Correlation coefficient
a measure of the strength of a correlation, used to indicate reliability. Often expressed as an 'r' value between 0 and 1. e.g. r=0.8 means a strong correlation
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Peer review
The practice of using independent experts to assess the quality and validity of scientific research
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Rating scales
A means of assessing attitudes or experiences by asking a respondent to rate statements on a scale of 1-10
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Likert scales
Respondents indicate the strength by which they agree or disagree with statements
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Semantic differential rating scales
allow respondents to indicate their attitude towards something by giving a range of two opposing concepts,e.g. 'A levels are... fun_____boring'
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Descriptive statistics
methods of organising and summarising research data in order to describe the findings
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A measure of central tendency. Adding up all values and dividing by the total number of values.
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A measure of central tendency. It is the middle or central value in an ordered list
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A measure of central tendency. The most common value
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A measure of dispersion. The distance between the highest and lowest value in a data sample
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The group of people from whom a sample is drawn from a study
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Things which vary or change
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Inferal statistics
A type of statistical analysis that permits one to make inferences about an underlying population from a sample data
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Card 2


A correlation is a statistical measurement of the relationship, either positive or negative, between two variable



Card 3


A way of controlling for order effects


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Card 4


Aspects of the experiment that may cause the participants (or the experimentor) to change the way they behave


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Card 5


The effect of the IV, or what is measured, in an experiment


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