Psychology AS research methods- experimental techniques

  • Created by: sbrown67
  • Created on: 09-10-16 13:47
What is an experimental method?
The manipulation of the IV to see its effect on the DV
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What subdivisions are included in experimental methods?
Aims, hypotheses, IV and DV, levels of the IV (conditions), operationalisation
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What is an aim?
A general statement which describes the purpose of the investigation
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What is an aim developed from?
Previous theories
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What is a hypothesis?
A clear, precise, testable statement that is made at the outset of any study and outlines the relationship between the variables being investigated
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What is a directional hypothesis?
A hypothesis that states the direction of the relationship between variables
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What is another term for directional hypotheses?
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What is a non-directional hypothesis?
A hypothesis that does not state the difference between the variables
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When should you use a directional hypothesis?
When there is previous research suggesting a particular outcome
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When is a non-directional method used?
1. When there is no previous research 2. When previous research is contradictory
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What two levels of the independent variable are there?
1. Control condition 2. Experimental condition
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Why are two levels of the independent variable needed?
In order to compare the results so that researchers know what effect the independent variable is having on the dependent variable
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What is operationalisation of a hypothesis?
Clearly defining the variables in the experiment in terms of how they can be measured
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What subdivisions are included in the Control of Variables?
1. Extraneous variables 2. Confounding variables 3. Demand characteristics 4.Investigator effects 5. Randomisation 6. Standardisation
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What are extraneous variables?
Any variable that does not vary systematically with the IV and may have an effect on the DV. They are nuisance variables that make it harder to detect a result but do not confound (obscure) the findings of the study
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What are the two sub-categories of extraneous variables?
1. Participant variables 2. Situational variables
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What are participant variables?
Variables to do with individual differences between participants e.g. intelligence, gender, concentration, personality
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What are situational variables?
Variables to do with the features of the experimental situation e.g. light, time of day, weather, instructions
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What are some examples of extraneous variables?
Light, time of day, age, noise
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What are confounding variables?
Any variables that may have had an effect on the DV and varies systematically with the IV. A second unintended IV that alone could explain the changes to the DV
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Why is participant reactivity a significant extraneous variable in research studies?
Participants are not passive test subjects, they will be likely to want to know and work out what is going on
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What are demand characteristics?
Cues or clues that are interpreted by the participants as revealing the purpose of the investigation and allow them to second-guess what the aim is
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In what was may participants behave if they gain an idea about who they should be behaving?
1. 'Please-u'-over performing to please the experimenter 2. 'Screw-u' -deliberately underperforming to screw the results of the study
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What are investigator effects?
Any effect (conscious or unconscious) of the investigator's behaviour on the research outcome
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Where can investigator effects take a toll?
Any stage of the design of the investigation e.g. instructions and materials, the selection of and interaction with the participants
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What is randomisation?
An attempt to minimise investigator effects- the order of conditions or participants is randomly selected
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What is standardisation?
Presenting all participants with the exact same formalised instructions and procedures- all participants should be subject to the same environment, information and experience
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What does standardisation allow?
It allows any unstandardised changes to procedures to not act as extraneous variables
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What is experimental design?
The different ways in which the testing of participants can be organised in relation to the experimental conditions
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What are the subdivisions of experimental design?
Independent group, repeated measures, matched pairs, random allocation, counterbalancing
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What is independent groups design?
Participants are allocated to different groups and each group represents a different experimental condition. The results of each group are then compared
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What are the strengths of the independent groups design?
There are very few effects of order due to each group only representing one experimental condition. Therefore, participants are less likely to guess the aims of the study also
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What are the limitations of independent group design?
1. Participant variables- different participants are used for each experimental condition 2. Less economical than other designs due to each participant only contributing one result, more participants are needed to gain the equivalent data
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What method is used to reduce the effects of participant variables in independent groups design?
Random Allocation- attempts to evenly distribute the participants across the experimental conditions e.g. picking numbers out of a hat
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What is the repeated measures design?
Every participant takes part in every experimental condition. The results of each condition are then compared
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What are the strengths of repeated measures design?
1. Reduces effect of participant variables due to use of same participants 2. More economical due to each participant contributing several results
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What are the limitations of repeated measures design?
1. Order effects- participants may become experienced due to practice, or bored and give up, order is a confounding variable 2. Demand characteristics may arise due to participants guessing the aims
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What method may be used to reduce the effects of order?
Counterbalancing- one group experiences the experimental conditions in one order and the other group experience the conditions in the opposite order
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What is matched pairs design?
Participants are paired together on a variable or variables relevant to the experiment. Each member of the pair will be allocated to a different experimental condition.
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What does matched pairs design try to combat?
1. The effect of participant variables 2. The repetition of experimental conditions for participants so they do not come wise to the aims
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What is usually needed before matched pairs can be carried out?
A pre-test to make sure matching is effective
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What are the strengths of matched pairs design?
1. Order effects and demand characteristics are less of a problem due to each participant only taking part in one experimental condition.
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What are the limitations matched pairs design?
1. Participants can never be matched exactly so participant variables may still affect the DV 2. Expensive and time-consuming if pre-test is required, so less economical
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What are the four different types of experiment?
Laboratory, Natural, Field, Quasi
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What is a lab experiment?
An experiment conducted in a highly controlled and structured environment. The researcher manipulates the IV and records the effect on the DV
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What are the strengths of laboratory experiments?
1.High control over extraneous variables 2. High level of internal validity 3.Replication is much easier- allows checking that results are not just due to chance- increases validity 4. Can ensure the IV affected the DV
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What are the limitations of lab experiments?
1. Do not represent real life- lack generalisability- low external validity 2. May give rise to demand characteristics as participants know they are being observed 3. Not real-life experiences- low mundane realism
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What is a field experiment?
The independent variable is manipulated by the researcher but in a more natural, everyday setting.
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What are the strengths of field experiments?
1. Higher external validity as results can be generalised to wider public 2. More natural setting so represents everyday life better- higher mundane realism 3. Behaviour is more valid and authentic
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What are the limitations of field experiments?
1. Lack of control of extraneous variables makes replication more difficult and harder to establish between effect on DV 2. Ethical issues due to lack of consent- participants may feel as though privacy is invaded
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What is a natural experiment?
The independent variable is something that would have occurred regardless of whether the researcher was there or not. The researcher takes advantage of a pre-existing variable
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What are the strengths of natural experiments?
1. High external validity due to studying real-life issues 2. Provides opportunities to study situations or behaviour that may not have otherwise been ethical or practical
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What are the limitations of natural experiments?
1. Naturally occurring events may happen very rarely so may limit the scope for generalisation as similar projects are difficult to undertake 2. Participants cannot be randomly allocated to experimental conditions- unsure of what affects DV
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What is a quasi experiment?
An almost experiment that is revolved around an independent variable that is based on an existing difference between people. The IV has not been manipulated, it simply exists
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What are the strengths of quasi experiments?
Often carried out under controlled conditions so similar strengths to lab experiment
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What are the limitations of quasi experiments?
1. Participants cannot be randomly allocated to experimental conditions so there may be confounding variables
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Why are natural and quasi experiments considered to be untrue experiments?
There is no manipulation of the independent variable; they are based on pre-existing variables. In a true experiment the independent variable is under manipulation by the researcher who then records the effect on the dependent variable
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What are the different types of sampling?
Random sample, stratified sample, systematic sample, volunteer sample and opportunity sampling
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What is a target population?
A group of people who are of interest to the researcher and from which a smaller sample is drawn?
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Why is a sample drawn from a larger population?
Practical and economic reasons
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What is the ideal sample?
One that is representative of the target population so that generalisation of findings becomes possible
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What is random sampling?
1. All members of the sample have the same chance of being selected 2. All members of population are assigned a number then the sample is generated using random techniques that pick out the numbers
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What are the strengths of random sampling?
1.Free from researcher bias as the researcher has no influence over who is selected so they cannot select those who they think will support their hypothesis
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What are the limitations of random sampling?
1.Difficult and time-consuming to conduct 2. Difficult to obtain complete list of target population 3. Sample may still be unrepresentative 4. Participants may refuse to take part
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What is systematic sampling?
1. A sampling frame is produced- a list of people in the target population 2. A sampling system is selected, i.e every nth person is selected e.g. every 3rd, 9th or 13th person- this can be randomly selected to avoid further bias
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What are the strengths of systematic sampling?
1. Avoids researcher bias as they have no influence over who is chosen once sampling system is chosen 2. Usually fairly representative
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What are the limitations of systematic sampling?
1. May not be totally representative 2. Participants may refuse to take part
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What is stratified sampling?
The composition of the sample represents the proportions of people in certain sub-groups (strata) within the target population
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How is stratified sampling carried out?
1. The researcher identifies the different strata that make up the population 2. The proportions needed for the sample to be representative are worked out 3. The participants that make up each stratum are selected using random sampling
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What are the strengths of stratified sampling?
1. Avoids researcher bias- participants randomly selected beyond researcher's control 2. Produces a representative sample as it is proportional to wider population, allowing generalisation
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What are the limitations of stratified sampling?
Stratification is not perfect- the sample cannot represent every way in which people are different
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What is opportunity sampling?
Researchers select those who are willing and available to participate - they ask whoever is around at the time of the study
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Why is opportunity sampling often used?
Representative samples of the target populations are so difficult to obtain
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What are the strengths of opportunity sampling?
1. Convenient, saves much more time, effort and money
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What are the limitations of opportunity sampling?
1. Researcher bias- they choose who they ask so are likely to ask those who they like the look of 2. Unrepresentative- sample is drawn from one very specific area so cannot represent wider population- lack generalisability
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What is volunteer sampling?
The participants select themselves and come forward to the researcher. The researcher often places an advert or willing participants may just raise their hands when asked
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What are the strengths of volunteer sampling?
Very easy and requires minimal input from the researcher- less time-consuming
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What are the limitations of volunteer sampling?
Volunteer bias- attracts the same type of people who are curious and willing to help- therefore, findings will be unrepresentative and so cannot be generalised. People may also be unwilling to take part
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What are ethical issues?
Issues that arise when there is conflict between between the rights of the participants and the goals of the research to produce authentic, valid and worthwhile data
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What does the conflict have implications for in ethical issues?
The safety and wellbeing of participants
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Give an example of when an ethical issue may arise?
The researcher may not reveal the true purpose of the investigation so they can observe natural behaviour
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What are the four major ethical issues that face researchers and participants in psychology?
1. Informed consent 2. Deception 3. Protection from harm 4. Privacy and confidentiality
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What does informed consent involve?
Making participants aware of: the aims of the research, the procedures, their rights (including rights to withdraw at any time) and what their data will be used for
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What must participants do before giving their informed consent?
Make an informed judgement whether or not to take part without being coerced or feeling obliged
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Why is asking for informed consent difficult for a researcher?
Makes the results meaningless as the behaviour they will be observing is unnatural as they know they aims of the study
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What are the three alternative ways of getting consent?
1. Presumptive consent 2. Prior general consent 3. Retrospective consent
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What is presumptive consent?
Asking a similar group of people to the participants whether they think the study is acceptable. If they agree, consent is 'presumed'
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What is prior general consent?
Participants give their permission to take part in a number of different studies- including one that will involve deception. They are effectively consenting to being deceived
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What is retrospective consent?
Participants are asked for their consent during debriefing, after the study. They may not have been aware of their participation or they may have been subject to deception
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What is deception?
Deliberately misleading or withholding information from participants at any stage of the investigation.
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How does deception link to informed consent?
Participants who have been deliberately lied to, or did not receive adequate information at the beginning, did not give informed consent
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When can deception be justified?
If it does not cause the participant undue stress
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How should participants be protected from harm during any investigation?
They should not be placed under any more risk than they would have n their daily lives
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What forms of harm must participants be protected from?
Psychological and physical harm
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What are some examples of psychological and physical harm?
Embarrassment, feeling of inadequacy, being placed under undue stress or pressure
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What is an important part of protecting participants from harm?
Participants must be reminded of the fact that they have the right to withdraw from the investigation at any point
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What is the right of privacy?
The right that participants possess to control information about themselves
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What must happen if privacy is invaded?
The confidentiality of participants must be protected
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What is confidentiality?
Refers to our right, enshrined by law under the Data Protection Act, to have any personal data protected.
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Where does the right to privacy extend to?
The area where the study took place such that institutions or geographical locations are not named
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What is the BPS code of conduct?
The British Psychological Society has it own code of conduct which includes a set of ethical guidelines, which are not law, but instructs psychologists in the UK what behaviour is acceptable or unacceptable
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What are the 4 major principles that the BPS code of conduct is built around?
1. Respect 2. Competence 3. Responsibility 4. Integrity
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Who implements the BPS codes of conduct?
Ethical committees in research institutions
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What sort of approach do ethical committees often use?
Cost benefit analysis- their responsibility to weigh up the benefits e.g groundbreaking research of the study with possible costs e.g. damaging effect on individual participants or reputation of psychology as a whole
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How is the ethical issue of informed consent dealt with?
1. Participants are issued with a consent letter, detailing all relevant info that might affect their decision to participate or not 2. Children under 16 must have a parent's signature 3. Presumptive, prior general, retrospective consent
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How is the ethical issue of protection from harm dealt with?
1. Debrief 2. Reminded of right to withhold data 3. Reassurance given that behaviour was typical 4. If subject to stress or embarrassment, counselling should be offered
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What should be included in a debrief?
1. Participants made aware of the true aims of the study 2. Supplied with any information they were not previously given e.g about any other groups or control conditions
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How should the ethical issue of confidentiality be dealt with?
1. If personal details held, should be protected 2. Maintenance of anonymity e.g. participants are referred to using numbers or initials- in a case study, initials are used 3. Participants should be reminded their data will be protected throughout
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What is a pilot study?
A mall-scale trial study done before the real investigation is conducted
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What methods are used in pilot studies?
They can be experiments or any type of self report technique e.g interviews/ questionnaires
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What sort of size is the sample in a pilot study?
Usually involves a handful of participants, rather than the total number, just to road test the procedure, and check the investigation will go smoothly
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Why are pilot studies important in self report techniques like interviews and questionnaires, as well as experiments?
They allow the researcher to try out questions in advance and remove any ambiguous or confusing questions
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Why are pilot studies important in observational studies?
Provides a way of checking coding systems before the real investigation is undertaken. This plays an important part in the training of observers
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What is the main reason why pilot studies are used?
They allow the researcher to identify any potential issues and to modify the design and procedure, saving money and time in the long run
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What are some examples of pilot studies?
Time of day, number of participants required, questions on a questionnaire, amount of time between giving e.g. a drink and recording behaviour, the control variable, time frame for recording
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What is a single-blind procedure?
A procedure in which the participants are not told the aims of the study or which condition they are being placed in. The researcher knows this information
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What are the strengths of the single-blind procedure?
These procedures are done to attempt to reduce demand characteristics and participant bias so they do not act in the way they think that they should
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What are the limitations of single-blind procedures?
There may still be the problem of investigator effects as they are aware of the conditions in which the participants are placed
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What are the ethical issues with single-blind procedures?
Participants are subject to deception as they are not aware of the condition they are in or of other conditions. They are not told the aims of the study either
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What is a double-blind procedure?
Neither the participant nor the researcher who conducts the investigation is aware of the aims (often a third party conducts the investigation without knowing its aims)
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When are double-blind procedures commonly used?
Drug trials using the real drug and a placebo to see if the real drug really has the desired effect
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What are the strengths of double-blind procedures?
They reduce the impact of investigator effects and the confounding variable, demand characteristics
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What are the limitations of double-blind procedures?
Ethical issues concerning deception
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What is the experimental condition in a single-blind and double-blind procedure?
The group which receives the real drug (in a drug trial)
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What is the control condition in a single-blind and double-blind trial?
The group which receives the placebo (in a drug trial)
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What is control used for in experimental studies?
Setting a baseline for the purpose of comparison
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How does the investigator conclude that the independent variable has affected the dependent variable?
If the change in behaviour of the experimental group is significantly greater than that of the control group (assuming all other variables have remained constant)
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