Research Methods Glossary

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ACQUIESCENCE
Answering 'yes' or 'strongly agree' to every item in a survey or interview. Also called yea-saying.
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ALPHA LEVEL
The value, determined in advance, at which researchers decide where the p value obtained from a sample statistic is low enough to reject the null hypothesis or too high, and thus retain the null hypothesis.
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APPLIED RESEARCH
Research whose goal is to find a solution to a particular real-world problem.
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ASSOCIATION CLAIM
A claim in which two variables, in which the value (level) of one variable is said to vary systematically with the value of another variable.
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ATTRITION THREAT
In a repeated-measures design or quasi-experiment, a threat to internal validity that occurs when a systematic type of participant drops out of a study before it ends.
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AUTOCORRELATION
In a longitudinal design, the correlation of one variable with itself, measured at two different times.
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AVAILABILITY HEUTISTIC
The tendency to rely predominantly on evidence that easily comes to mind rather than use all possible evidence in evaluating a conclusion.
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BASIC RESEARCH
Research whose goal is to enhance the general body of knowledge, without regard for direct application to practical problems.
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BIAS BLIND SPOT
The tendency for people to think that compared to others, they are less likely to engage in biased reasoning.
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BIASED SAMPLE
A sample in which some members of the population of interest are systematically left out, and as a consequence, the results from the sample cannot generalize to the population of interest.
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BIMODAL
Having two modes, or most common score.
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BIVARIATE CORRELATION
An association that involves exactly two variables.
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CARRYOVER EFFECT
A type of order effect, in which some form of contamination carries over from one condition to the next.
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CATEGORICAL VARIABLE
A variable whose levels are categories (e.g. male/female).
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CASUAL CLAIM
A claim arguing that a specific change in one variable is responsible for influencing the value of another variable.
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CEILING EFFECT
An experimental design problem in which independent variable groups score almost the same on a dependent variable, such that all scores fall at the high end of their possible distribution.
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CELL
A condition in an experiment; in a simple experiment, it can represent the level of one independent variable; in a factorial design it represents one of the possible combinations of two independent variables.
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CENSUS
A set of observations that contains all members of the population of interest.
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CENTRAL TENDANCY
A value that the individual scores in a data set tend to center on.
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CLAIM
The argument a journalist, researcher, or scientist is trying to make.
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CLUSTER SAMPLING
A probability sampling technique in which clusters on participants within the population of interest are selected at random, followed by data collection from all individuals in each cluster.
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COHEN'S D
A measure of effect size indicating how far apart two group means are, in standard deviation units.
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COMPARISON GROUP
A group in an experiment whose level on the independent variable differs from those of the treatment group in some intended and meaningful way.
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CONCEPTUAL DEFINITION
A researches definition of a variable at the theoretical level.
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CONCEPTUAL REPLICATION
A replication study in which researchers examine the same research questions (the same conceptual variables) but use different procedures for operationalizing the variables.
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CONCEPTUAL VARIABLE
A variable of interest, stated at an abstract, or conventional, level.
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CONCURRENT-MEASURES DESIGN
An experiment using a within-groups design in which participants are exposed to all the levels of an independent variable at roughly the same time, and a single attitudinal of behavioral preference is the dependent variable.
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CONDITION
One of the levels of the independent variable in an experiment.
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CONFEDERATE
An actor who is directed by the researcher to play a specific role in a research study.
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CONFIRMATORY HYPOTHESIS TESTING
The tendency yo ask only the questions that will lead to the expected answer.
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CONFOUND
A general term for a potential alternative explanation for a research finding (a threat to internal validity).
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CONSTANT
An attribute that could potentially vary but has only one level in a study.
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CONSTRUCT
A variable of interest, stated at an abstract level, usually defined as part of a formal statement of a psychological theory.
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CONSTRUCT VALIDITY
An indication of how well a variable was measured or manipulated in a study.
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CONTENT VALIDITY
The extent to which a measure captures all parts of the defined construct.
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CONTROL FOR
Holding a potential third variable at a constant level while investigating the association between two other variables.
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CONTROL GROUP
A level of an independent variable that is intended to represent 'no treatment' or a neutral condition.
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CONTROL VARIABLE
A potential variable that an experimenter holds constant on purpose.
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CONVENIENCE SAMPLING
Choosing a sample based on those who are easiest to access and readily available; a biased sampling technique.
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CONVERGENT VALDITY
An empirical test for the extent to which a measure is associated with other measures of a theoretically similar construct.
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CORRELATE
To occur or vary together (covary) systematically, as in the case of two variables.
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CORRELATION STUDY
A study that includes two or more variables, in which all of the variables are measured; can support an association claim.
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CORRELATION COEFFICIENT
A single number, ranging from -1.0 to 1.0, that indicates the strength and direction of an association between two variables.
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COUNTERBALANCING
In a repeated measures experiment, presenting the levels of independent variable to participants in different sequences to control for order effects.
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COVARIANCE
One of three criteria for establishing a casual claim, which states that the proposed casual variable must vary systematically with changes in the proposed outcome variable.
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CRITERION VALIDITY
An empirical form of measurement validity that establishes the extent to which a measure is correlated with a behavior or concrete outcome it should be related to.
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CRITERION VARIABLE
The variable in a multiple-regression analysis that the researchers are most interested in understanding or predicting.
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CRITICAL VALUE
A value of a statistic that is associated with a desired alpha level.
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CRONBACH'S ALPHA
A correlation-based statistic that measures a scale's internal reliability.
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CROSS-LAG CORRELATION
In a longitudinal design, a correlation between an earlier measure of one variable and a later measure of another variable.
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CROSS SECTIONAL CORRELATION
In a longitudinal design, a correlation between two variables that are measured at the same time.
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CULTURAL PSYCHOLOGY
A subdiscipline of psychology concerned with how cultural settings shape a person's thoughts, feelings, and behavior, and how these in turn shape cultural settings.
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CURVILINEAR ASSOCIATION
An association between two variables which is not a straight line; instead, as one variable increases the level of the other variable increases and then decreases (or vice versa). Also called curvilinear correlation.
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DATA
A set of observations representing the value of some variable, collected form one or more research studies.
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DATA FABRICATION
A form of reserach misconduct in which a researcher invents data that fit the hypothesis.
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DATA FALSIFICATION
A form of research misconduct in which a researcher influences a study's results, perhaps by deleting observations from a data set or by influencing participants to act in the hypothesized way.
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DATA MATRIX
A grid presenting collected data.
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DEBREIF
To inform participants afterward about a study's rue nature, details and hypotheses.
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DECEPTION
The withholding of some details of a study from participants (deception through omission) or the act of actively lying to them (deception through commission).
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DEMAND CHARACTERISTICS
A threat to internal validity that occurs when some cue leads participants to guess a study's hypotheses or goals. Also called experimental demand.
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DEPENDENT VAIRABLE
In an experiment, the variable that is measured. in a multiple-regression analysis, the single outcome, or criterion value, the researchers are most interested in understanding or predicting. Also called outcome variable.
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DESCRIPTIVE STATISTICS
A set of statistics used to organize and summerize the properties of a set of data.
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DESIGN CONFOUND
A threat to internal validity in an experiment in which a second variable happens to vary systematically along with the independent variable and therefore is an alternative explanation for the results.
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DIRECTIONALITY PROBLEM
A situation in which it is unclear which variable in an association came first.
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DIRECT REPLICATION
A replication study in which reserachers repeat the original study as closely as possible to see whether the original effect shows up in the newly collected data. Also called exact replication.
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DISCRIMINANT VALIDITY
An empirical test of the extent to which a measure does not associate strongly with measures of other, theoretically different constructs.
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DOUBLE-BARRELED QUESTION
A type of question in a survey or poll that is problematic because it asks two questions in one, thereby weakening its construct validity.
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DOUBLE-BLIND PLACEBO CONTROL STUDY
A study that uses a treatment group and a placebo group and in which neither the research staff nor the participants know who is in which group.
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DOUBLE-BLIND STUDY
A study in which neither the participants nor the researchers who evaluate them know who is in the treatment group and who is in the comparison group.
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ECOLOGICAL VALIDITY
The extent to which the tasks and manipulations of a study are similar to real-world contexts. Also called mundane realism.
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EFFECT SIZE
The magnitude of a relationship between two or more variables
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The value, determined in advance, at which researchers decide where the p value obtained from a sample statistic is low enough to reject the null hypothesis or too high, and thus retain the null hypothesis.

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ALPHA LEVEL

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Research whose goal is to find a solution to a particular real-world problem.

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A claim in which two variables, in which the value (level) of one variable is said to vary systematically with the value of another variable.

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Card 5

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In a repeated-measures design or quasi-experiment, a threat to internal validity that occurs when a systematic type of participant drops out of a study before it ends.

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