Research methods A2

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Information is gained through direct obsersation or experiment
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Personal expectations should not affect what findings are recorded
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Previously recorded methods and procedures are re-tested to see if the outcome is the same
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Research attempts to find relationships through experimental methods which require a degree of control; We must ensure all other conditions are the same (controlled)
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Theory construct
A theory is a collection of general principals that explain observations and facts
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Involves reasoning from the particular to the general (e.g. Newton's Law)
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Involves reasoning from the general to the particular (e.g. Darwin's theory)
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Is psychology a science? : Strengths
19th Century-psychologists claimed it would enable them to produce verifiable knowledge for their research; Human behaviour can be measured as objectivity as any other science variable/ 'experimenter bias' and demand characteristics are the same
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Is psychology a science? : Limitations
Miller-Psychologists use the tools of scientists; Kuhn-doesnt have any single paradigm; Laing-psychology uses idiographic approach but science uses nomothetic approach
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Idiographic approach
Taking into account individual cases
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Nomothetic approach
compares individuals in terms of traits or dimensions common to everyone
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Peer review
The assessment of scientific work/research by others who are experts within the same field
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The intention of peer reviewing
To ensure that any research conducted and published is of a high and valid quality
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What three main purposes does peer reviews serve?
Allocation of research funding; Publication of research in journals; Assessing the research rating of universities
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Allocation of research funding
Research is paid for by various governments and charitable bodies, therefore public bodies require reviews to enable them to decide which research is likely to be accurate, valid and worthwhile
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Publication of research in journals
Peer review has been used when publishing research into journals to help identify and prevent any incorrect or faulty data entering the public domain
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Assessing the research rating of universities
All universities are expected to conduct research which is assessed in terms of its quality, future funding depends upon the rating given
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Strengths of a peer review
Gives another way of validating data & provides another safety precaution preventing damageable research being leaked into society; Produces more reliable and accurate results
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Limitations of a peer review
Smith-"slow,expensive,profligate of academic time,highly subjective,prone to bias,easily abused,poor at detecting gross defects&useless at detecting fraud";Not always possible to find expert to review;Synoptic- favours publication (bias)
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A journal
Where a psychological investigation is recorded
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A journal is constructed using a ...
Abstract; Introduction & Aim; Methodology; Results; Discussion; References
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A summary of the study and its components
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Introduction & Aim
This is what the research intends to study (includes hypothesises)
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A detailed description of the research procedure is laid out (for replication)
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What the research found
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The researcher may offer explanations and limitations about their research
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The full details of any journal articles/books that are mentioned
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When designing an experiment, psychologists should take into account which three various measures?
Repeated measures; Independent groups; Matched pairs
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Repeated measures
Each participant is tested on all the IVs
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Independent groups
Separate groups are tested for each IV
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Matched pairs
Participants in an independent group are matched with participants in another group on key variables
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Laboratory experiment
An experiment carried out within a controlled environment
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Advantages of a Laboratory experiment
High internal validity because extraneous variables controlled; control increases replicability
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Disadvantages of a Laboratory experiment
Reduced external/ecological validity and mundane realism because of the controlled environment; Experimenter effects (experimenter bias/demand characteristics)
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Field experiment
An experiment carried out within a more natural environment, although some factors may still be controlled
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Advantages of a Field experiment
Experimenter effects are minimal; Increased external/ecological validity and mundane realism
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Disadvantages of a Field experiment
Demand characteristics are unlikely but could still occur due to the controlled factors
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Natural experiment
An experiment which makes use of existing IVs (no control)
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Advantages of a Natural experiment
No experimenter effects; Increased external/ecological validity and mundane realism
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Disadvantages of a Natural experiment
Participants are not allocated to conditions which could reduce the experiments validity; Natural studies are hard to replicate
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Self-report methods
Questionnaires&Interviews used to find out what people think/feel; Unstructured or Structured; feature open or closed questions
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Disadvantages of Self-report methods
Demand characteristics as participants are more likely to portray themselves in a positive light
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Observational studies
Behavioural categories record particular instances of behaviours or sampling methods; Gains an accurate account of what is actually happening
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Disadvantages of Observational studies
Experimenter/observer bias because their observations can be affected by their expectations
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Correlational analysis
Useful in identifying relationships between co-variables; Correlational analysis can use large data sets making the findings more reliable/easily replicated
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Disadvantages of Correlational analysis
Lacks internal and external validity because the methods used may lack generlisability
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Case studies
Detailed studies of a single individual/institution/event; Uses data from a range of sources through various methods; Generally longitudinal; Identify and analyse complex interactions of many factors
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Disadvantages of Case studies
Fail to collate generalised data and often use retrospective data which may make the results unreliable
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An analysis of a range of studies within the same topic/field; Can be used to draw overall conclusions and theories/ assess reliability and validity of general theories, models and approaches
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Opportunity Sampling
Participants selected using people who are most easily available; easiest and quickest way of gathering participants
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Disadvantages of Opportunity Sampling
Not representative and provides no means of drawing generalised conclusions
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Volunteer sampling
Participants selected by asking for volunteers-gives access to variety of participants (study more representative)
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Disadvantages of Volunteer sampling
Sample is more likely to be highly motivated with free time, impacting again on generalising the research
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Random sampling
Participants gathered using random number technique; Target audience first identified and then each proposed participant given a number; Numbers randomly selected; Produces un-bias sample because everyone has equal chance of being selected
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Stratified and Quota sampling
Sub-groups within a population are identified; a predetermined number of participants selected from groups; Stratified=done using random-number technique; Quota=done using opportunity sampling; More representative & likely to produce generalised data
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Snowball sampling
Participant identified; Asked to find other suitable participants themselves; process continues until enough participants gathered
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Disadvantages of Snowball sampling
May produce biased sample because the individuals involved may only target a limited variety of population
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Refers to how consistent a method of measurement measures something; A reliable test will give similar results in similar circumstances
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What are the two different types of reliability?
Internal reliability and External reliability
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Internal reliability
Refers to whether a test-method is consistently measuring what it should be; Can be improved using a split-half test
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External reliability
Refers to how consistent the test-method is over time when repeated in different situations; Can be improved using test-retest method
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Split-half method
A method of assessing internal reliability by comparing two halves of a test-method to see if they produce the same score
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Test-Retest method
This assesses external reliability by comparing the results of a test given in two different situations; If a positive correlation is found=strong external reliability
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Inter-Rater reliability
Two or more observer's record individual scores on the test/participants, after comparing the results; If a positive correlation is found=good reliability
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The validity of any method of measurement...
Refers to how truly/realistically it measures something; A valid test will measure what it is supposed to measure
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Internal Validity
How much the findings of a test-method are due to the manipulation variable, rather than another factor
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External Validity
How much the findings of a test-method can be generalised to different settings
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We can assess the validity of a test-method using...
Face validity; construct validity; concurrent validity; content validity; temporal validity; population validity; context-ecological validity
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Face validity
The test-method looks like it is measuring what it is supposed to
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Construct validity
The test-method tests the theory about the variable it is measuring
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Concurrent validity
The test-method has a strong correlation with an already established test
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Content validity
The test-method tests everything required
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Temporal validity
The test-method can be endured over time and are not era-dependant
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Population validity
The test-method can be generalised to the whole population
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Context-ecological validity
The test-method can be generalised to the general/natural environment
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The BPS Guidelines
The British Psychological Society - outlines four ethical issues which psychologists must follow (Respect; competence; Responsibility; Integrity)
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Psychologist must show respect for dignity and worth of all people; Includes standards of privacy/confidentiality/informed consent;Participants have the right to withdraw;Intentional deception only acceptable when it protects integrity of research
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Psychologists should maintain high standards in their professional work
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Psychologists have a responsibility to their clients/general public/science; Includes protecting participants from harm & debriefing
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Psychologists must be accurate and honest
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Ethical committees
Assess research for its ethical principles; May punish psychologists for not complying & offer education to psychologists about their duties as researchers
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Socially Sensitive research
Sieber&Stanley: defeined socially sensitive research as "studies in which there are potential social consequences or implications, either directly for the participants in the research or the class of individuals represented.
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Four main reasons why researchers would use non-human animals in research
They find them fascinating (want to help them succeed in life); Offer opportunity for greater control&objectivity; When we can't use humans; Humans+animals=enough physiological&evolutionary past in common to justify conclusions from animal studies
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Three main arguments to the justifications of using animals in research
Sentient Beings; Speciesism; Animal Rights
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Sentient Beings
Evidence that animals respond to pain, but not the same as conscious awareness; Some primates show evidence of conscious awareness
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Singer: Argued discrimination on the basis of species in no different from racial/gender discrimination & so suggests use of animals is an example of Speciesism
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Animal Rights
Singer's view is utilitarian (whatever produces the greater food for the greater number is ethically acceptable); If animal research can stop pain and suffering it is justifiable
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Constraints currently in place for use of animals in studies
The Animal Act: requires animal research to only be carried out in licensed labs with licensed researchers on licensed projects
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Licenses are only granted under which conditions?
Potential findings are important enough; research cannot be done using non-animal methods; Minimum number of animals used; Any discomfort/suffering is kept minimum
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Russel and Birch
Created the three R's: Reduction (use of fewer animals); Replacement (Alternative methods used where possible); Refinement (Improved techniques to reduce stress)
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A correlation coefficient
Informs us about how closely co-variables are related; Can be displayed between -1 and +1
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Four main types of graphs and charts
Scatter graphs; Bar charts; Histograms; Frequency polygons
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Scatter graphs
Used for correlations (2 variables)
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Bar charts
Used for plotting discrete data; Data does not overlap in any way
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X-axis displays continuous data; No gaps between bars
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Frequency polygons
Continuous data on the x-axis and a continuous line connecting the points instead of bars
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Inferential statistics allow psychologists to look at patterns within results to see if they have arisen by chance; Could not arisen by chance=pattern described as significant
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Results are significant when a large difference is found between variables and results
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The extent to which something occurs randomly
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Name the three types of data
Nominal (can be categorized); Ordinal (can be ordered); Interval (measured in equal intervals)
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Observed Value
A test statistic calculated for any set of data
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How do you know if observed value is significant?
Compare to critical value (found within table)
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The three pieces of information you need to identify critical value
Degree of freedom; One-tailed or two-tailed test; Significance level
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Degree of freedom
Usually number of participants for independent group studies
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One-tailed or two-tailed test
One-tailed (directional hypothesis) predicts direction of the results, whereas two-tailed (non-directional) does not
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Type one errors
Occurs when alternative hypothesis is wrongly accepted (wrongly reject null hypothesis)
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Type two errors
Occurs when null hypothesis is wrongly accepted (alternative hypothesis wrongly rejected)
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Chi-squared Test
Hypothesis predicts difference between two conditions or an association between co-variables; Data independent and nominal
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Spearman's Rho Test
Hypothesis predicts a correlation between two co-variables; Two sets of data are pairs of scores from one person/thing; Data are ordinal or interval
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Mann-Whitney U Test
Hypothesis predicts a difference between two sets of data; Two sets of data are from separate groups of participants; Data are ordinal or interval
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Wilcoxon T Test
Hypothesis predicts a difference between two sets of data; Two sets of data are pairs of scores from one person or a matched pair; Data are ordinal or interval
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Quantitative data
Represents how much, how long or how many there are of something; Presented in a numerical form
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Qualitative data
Any data which is not presented is a numerical form; Normally gathered from unstructured interviews/questionnaires/observations/case studies
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Ways of analysing qualitative data
Discourse analysis (studying written or oral discourses); Ethnography (observing people in their natural environments); IPA (understanding how people make sense of their own experiences)
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A way of identifying categories/themes/phrases/keywords that may be found in any set of data; Done to help refine researcher's findings & help them be more objective in their approach
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The categories/themes/phrases/keywords are selected using two approaches
Thematic Analysis (Top-Down approach) or the Grounded Theory (Bottom-Up approach)
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Thematic Analysis (Top-Down approach)
Codes represent ideas and concepts from an existing theory/explaination
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Grounded Theory (Bottom-Up approach)
Codes and categories emerge from the research
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The Traditional approach to psychology
Claims there is one real world, and quantitative research seeks to discover that reality - validity is a measure of the extent to which that has been achieved
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The Qualitative approach
Denies the existence of any one world, claiming each individuals perspective is reality; Acknowledge the need for reflexivity; Validity demonstrated using triangulation
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The recognition that a researcher's attitudes have an influence on the research they conduct
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Comparing the results from a variety of studies of the same thing or person
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