Research methods

What is nominal level data + how would you plot this
Data that comes in named categories. Plot in a bar chart, bars separate from each other
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What is ordinal level data + how would you plot this
Ranked in order i.e 1 to 5, 1 being not very anxious and 5 being very anxious
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What doesn't ordinal level data tell us
It tells us i.e the student who circles 1 is less anxious than the student who circled 4 but it doesn't tell us HOW MUCH less anxious. No measurement
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What is interval level data
Data that is ordered but unlike ordinal data, the points on the scale are in equal intervals i.e the distance between 1cm and 2cm is the same as the distance between 12cm and 13cm
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What is an aim
General statement that describe the purpose of an investigation
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What is a hypothesis
A statement that is made at the start of a study
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How do you write a directional statement
A difference more than/less than
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How do you write a non directional/alternative hypothesis
Begin with 'there will be a difference'
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What is the independent variable
The one that's changed and effects the DV
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What is the dependent variable
The one that stays the same. (being measured)
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In order to test the IV you need different experimental conditions, what are the two
Control conditions (changing). Experimental conditions (what your experimenting)
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What is operationalisation
Clearly definining variables in terms of how they can be measured
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What are extraneous variables
Any other variables that might potentially interfere with the IV OR DV should be controlled
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Give an example of an extraneous variables and if its easy or difficult to control
Age of participants. Easy to control
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What is a confounding variable
Any variable other than the IV that may have affected the DV, so we cannot be sure of the true source of changes to the DV
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Give an example of a confounding variable and whether its difficult or easy to control
Personality. Difficult to control
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What is a demand characteristic
Participants are not passive and spend time trying to make sense of new situations so they may act in a way they think is expected of them
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What are investigator effects
Any effect of the investigators behavior (conscious or unconscious) on the research effect outcome (the DV) i.e leading questions
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How can you control the effects of bias
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What is standardisation
Using the same formalised procedures and instructions for all participants in a study
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What are independent groups
Two separate groups of participants experience two different conditions of the experiments
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Weaknesses of Independent groups
Individual differences between participants in the group (use random allocation to deal with it). Less economical as each participant contributes a single result only
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What is random allocation + method
Attempts to evenly distribute participant characteristics. Put A or B on a piece of paper and place in a hat
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Strengths of Independent groups
Order effects is not a problem. Less likely to guess the aims
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What are repeated measures
All participants experience both conditions of the experiment
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Weaknesses of repeated measures
Order effects (creates boredom or fatigue that might cause deterioration) use counterbalancing to deal with that. Demand characteristics Participants performance may improve through practice
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What is counterbalancing
Half the participants take part in condition A then B and the other half take part in condition B then A
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Strengths of repeated measures
Participant variables are controlled. Fewer participants needed
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What are matched pairs
Participants get paired together. One participant from the pair is allocated to one condition and the other pair, the other condition
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Weaknesses of matched pairs
Time consuming and expensive. Pairs need to be matched but still some individual differences
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Strengths of matched pairs
Order effects and demand characteristics not as much of a problem
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What is a laboratory experiment
Highly controlled environment. Not necessarily in the lab
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Strengths of a lab experiment
High control over extraneous variables. Replication easier due to high levels of control. High internal validity
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Weaknesses of a lab experiment
May lack generalisability as artificial environment is not like everyday life. Low external validity. Demand characteristics
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What is a field experiment
IV is manipulated in a natural, more everyday setting
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Strength of field experiment
Environment is more natural so high mundane realism. High external validity (participants may be unaware they are being studied)
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What is mundane realism
Representing real life experience
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Limitations of field experiement
Ethical issues - no consent given if they don't know they're being studied
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What is a natural experiment
Researcher takes advantage of a pre-existing variable. Called 'natural' because the variable would have not changed even if the experimenter was not interested
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Strengths of natural experiment
Provide opportunities for research that may not otherwise be undertaken for practical or ethical reasons. High external validity as it involves the study of real life issues and problems as they happen
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Limitations of natural experiment
Naturally occurring event may occur very rarely, reducing opportunity for research
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What is a Quasi experiment
Has an IV that is based on an existing difference between people i.e age or gender. No one has manipulated this variable, it simply exists
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Strengths of Quasi experiment
High internal validity. Often under control conditions therefore high control over extraneous variables
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What is a population
A large group of individuals that a particular researcher may be interested in studying
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What is the target population
Subset of general population
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What is a random sample
All members of the target population have an equal chance of being selected
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Random sample method
Members of target population is numbered. Lottery method generates a sample (a computer based randomiser or picking numbers from a hat)
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+/- of random sample
Free from researcher bias. Difficult and time consuming to conduct. May end up with an unrepresentative sample
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What is systematic sample
When every nth number of a target population is selected. A sampling system is nominated i.e every 3rd or every 6th or it may be chosen randomly to reduce bias
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+/- of systematic sample
Avoids researcher bias. Fairly representative
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What is a stratified sample
Target population is sub-divided into strata, participant from each strata are randomly selected i.e using a generator
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+/- of stratified sample
Avoids researcher bias. Not completely representative of target population as it doesn't reflect all the way people are different. Somewhat representative so can be generalised
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What is an opportunity sample
Many researchers decide to select anyone who happens to be willing and available
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+/- of opportunity sample
Convenient (save time + money). Unrepresentative so cannot be generalised to target population. Researcher bias - researcher has complete control over selection of participants
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What is a volunteer sample
Participant selecting themselves to be part of the sample i.e raising their hand or ad in a newspaper
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+/- of volunteer sample
less time consuming. volunteer bias - may attract certain 'profile' of people
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What is informed consent and how to deal with it
Make participants aware of aims of study, their rights and what the data will be used for. To deal, give them a consent letter with all information that might affect their decisions to participate. May change the way participants behave-aware of aims
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What is deception and how to deal with it
Deliberately misleading or withholding information from participants at any stage of the investigation. Make them aware of aims and what their data will be used for
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What is protection from harm and how to deal with it
Participants shouldn't be put at risk and should be protected from psychological or physical harm. Offer counselling
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What is confidentiality and how to deal with it
right of privacy. Protect personal details or simply record no details use numbers or initials instead
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Ethical issues
Protection from harm, confidentiality, deception, informed consent
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What is a pilot study and when is it helpful
A small scale trial run of the actual investigation. When using self report methods i.e questionnaires or intervies - try out qs to remove any that are too ambiguous or confusing. Allows us to identify and modify potential issues, saving time+money
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What is single blind
Participant is not aware of aims of research
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What is double blind
Neither participant or researcher are aware of aims of study
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What is a naturalistic observation
Watching and recording behaviour in the setting within which it would normally occur
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Strengths of naturalistic observations
High external validity - findings can be generalised to everyday life.
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Limitations of naturalistic observations
Not controlled setting = replication hard. Extraneous variables make it difficult to judge patterns of behaviour
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What is a controlled observation
Watching and recording behaviour within a structured environment ie Ainsworths strange situation -two way mirrow
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Strengths of controlled observation
Replication is easier due to fewer extraneous variables
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Limitations of controlled observation
Low external validity
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What is a covert observation
Participants' behaviour is watched and recorded without their knowledge or consent. Behaviours must be in public and happening already for it to be ethical
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Strengths of covert observation
Participant reactivity is not a problem - any behaviour observed is natural so increases validity. `
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Limitation of covert observation
Ethics - people don't give consent
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What is overt observation
Participants' behaviour is watched and recorded with their knowledge and consent
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Strengths of overt observation
More ethically acceptable
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Limitation of overt observation
Participant knowledge of them being observed may affect their behaviour
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What is a participant observation
Researcher becomes a member of the group whose behaviour he/she is watching + recording
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Strengths of participant observation
Increased insight into lives of people being study so increased of validity of findings
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Limitation of participant observation
Researchers may come to identify too strongly with those who they are studying and lose objectivity
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What is 'going native'
Line between being a researcher and being a participant is blurred
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What is non-participant observation
Researcher remains outside of the group whose behaviour he/she is watching + recording
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Strengths of non participant observation
Less danger of 'going native' - allows researcher to maintain an objective distance
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Limitations of non participant observation
May lose valuable insight
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How can you make data recording more objective and unbias
Inter-observer reliability - two researchers observe the same thing
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What is unstructured observation
Researcher may simply want to write everything they say. Appropriate when small scale and few participants involved.
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+/- of unstructured observation
Qualitative data - more difficult to compare to analyse. More rich and in depth detail. More risk of observer bias - the researcher may only record those behaviours that 'catch their eye' and it may not be important or useful
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What is structured observation
Allow the researcher to quantify their observations using a pre-determined list of behaviours and sampling method. May be necessary to simplify target behaviours
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+/- of structured observation
Involves the use of behavioural categories make the recording of data easier and more systematic - quantitative data (numerical) so analysing and comparing is easier
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What are behavioural categories
Break target behaviours into a set of behavioural categories - should be precisely defined
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+/- of behavioural categories
can make data collection more structured and objective. Must not require further interpretation
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What is event sampling
Involves counting the number of times a particular behaviour occurs in a target individual or group.
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+/- of event sampling
Useful when the target behaviour or event happens quite infrequently. If the specified event is too complex, the observer may overlook important details
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What is time sampling
Involves recording behaviour within a pre-established time frame
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+/- of time sampling
Effective in reducing the number of observations that have to be made
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What is a questionnaire
A set of written questions used to assess a person's thoughts and/or experiences
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What are open questions + evaluate
Open answers. Produces qualitative data that is rich in detail but may be difficult to analyse
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What are closed questions + evaluate
Fixed responses. Produces quantitative data easily analysed but it may lack the depth and detail associated with open qs
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+ of questionnaires
Cost effective. Gather large amounts of data quickly Straightforward to analyse
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- of questionnaires
Respondents may not always be truthful. Often produce a response bias
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What are structured interviews + evaluate
Set of questions asked in a fixed order. Straightforward to replicate due to standardised format reduces differences between interviewers
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What is an unstructured interview + evaluate
No set questions. General aim that a certain topic will be discussed and is free flowing. More flexible - interviewer can follow up on points and gain more insight. Firm conclusions from data may be difficult.Interviewee may lie (social desirability)
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What is a semi structured interview
There is a list of questions that have been worked out in advance but interviewer can ask follow up qs if they want
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What is a likert scale
Respondents indicate their agreement with a statement usually a scale ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree
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What is a rating scale
Respondents identify a value that represents their strength of feeling about a particular topic i.e 1 to 5
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What is a fixed choice option
Includes a list of possible options and respondents are required to indicate those that apply to them
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Designing Interviews
Prepare list of questions that you intend to cover. Standardised for each participant to reduce bias. Remind interviewers that their answers will remain confidential
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Writing a good question -> the use of jargon
Using technical terms that are only familiar to those within a specialised field or area. Only certain people within that field would understand this and it would confuse everyone else
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Writing a good question -> Emotive language and leading questions
The authors attitudes towards a particular topic is clear from the way the question is phrased. Leading questions- guides participant towards a particular answer
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Writing a good question -> double barreled question and double negatives`
Contains two questions in one, the issue being that respondents may agree with one half of the question and not with the other
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What is a correlation
Investigating an association between two variables
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What is a positive correlation
As one increases so does the other
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What is a negative correlation
As one increases the other decreases
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What is a zero correlation
No relationship between two coovariables
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Strengths of correlation
Provides a precise measure of how two variables are related. Quick and cheap to carry out. May suggest ideas for further research
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Weakness of correlation
Studies can tell us how variables are related not why. Doesn't tell us cause and effect so which variable causes the other to change. Can be misinterpreted or misused
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What is qualitative data
Expressed in words and non numerical i.e written description
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+/- of qualitative data
Rich in detail. Greater external validity. Difficult to analyse. Conclusions may be subject to bias
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What is quantitative data
Data that is expressed numerically
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+/- of quantitative data
Easy to analyse. Less biased. May fail to represent real life
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What is primary data
Data that has been collected first hand i.e directly through participants
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+/- of primary data
Highly valid. Targets relevant information. Requires time and effort
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What is secondary data
Information that has already been collected by someone else. I.e work of other psychologists or government statistics
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+/- of secondary data
Inexpensive and easy to access. Varies in quality and outdated and incomplete
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What is mean
Adding up all the values in a set of data and dividing it by the number of values there are
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What is median
The middle value
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What is the mode
Most frequently occuring
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What is measures of dispersion
General term for any measure of the spread of variation in a set of scores i.e range and standard deviation
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What is Standard deviation
Measures how much score deviates from the mean
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What is the range
Subtract the lowest from the highest value and add 1
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What is measures of central tendency
General term for any measure of the average value in a set of data i.e mode median mean
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What is a normal distribution
A symmetrical spread of frequency data that forms a bell shaped pattern. Mean, median, mode are located at highest peak
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What is a skewed distribution
A spread of frequency data that forms a bell shaped pattern. The mean median and mode are all located at the highest peak
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Negative and positive skew leans to which direction
Negative = right. Positive = left
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3 main aims of peer review
1.To allocate research funding 2. To validate quality and accuracy 3. To suggest improvements
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Implications of psychological research for the economy - the attachment research into the role of the father
Psychological research has shown that both parents are equally as capable of providing emotional support necessary for healthy psychological development therefore may promote more flexible working arrangements in family.can contribute more to economy
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Implications of psychological research for the economy - development of treatments for mental illnesses
Absence from work costs a lot so psychological research allows development of treatments allowing ppl to manage their conditions and return to work.
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one tailed
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two tailed
non directional
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Correlation coefficient
A number between -1 and +1 that represents the direction and strength of a relationship between covariables
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What is an case study
An in depth investigation, description or analysis of a single individual, group, institution or event. Often longitudinal
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+ of case study
rich detailed insight. case studies may contribute towards our understanding of 'normal' behaviour. May generate hypotheses for future study.
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- of case study
Small sample size so hard to generalise. Info that reaches final account based on subjective selection. Personal accounts from family/friends etc. prone to memory decay and inaccuracy so low validity
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What is content analysis
Observational research where people are researched indirectly via communications they have produced ie emails, texts, films
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Coding and quantitative data - content analysis
Stage in content analysis where communications to be studied is analysed by identifying each instance of the chosen categories ( words , phrases) to produce quantitative data
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Thematic analysis and qualitative data - content analysis
Themes emerge once the data has been coded. Themes refers to any idea, implicit or explicit, that is recurring
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+ of content analysis
Avoids ethical issues as secondary data that exists publically may be used so no need for permission. Flexible as it can produce both quantitative and qualitative data depending on its aim
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- of content analysis
People studied indirectly so content is analysed out of context. Research may imply opinions of the speaker that were not originally intended. May suffer from a lack of objectivity
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Card 2


What is ordinal level data + how would you plot this


Ranked in order i.e 1 to 5, 1 being not very anxious and 5 being very anxious

Card 3


What doesn't ordinal level data tell us


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


What is interval level data


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


What is an aim


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