Research Methods- Key Definitions

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  • Created by: Jasmine
  • Created on: 21-02-16 14:12
It is a precise testable statement that is made at the beginning of the study which clearly states the relationship between the variables in the study
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Directional Hypothesis
Also known as a one tailed hypothesis. It makes it clear what will happen between the two conditions. Eg Alcohol will increase reaction times
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Non-directional Hypothesis
Also known as a two-tailed hypothesis. States the difference but does not state what direction the difference will take. Eg Alcohol will affect someones reaction times
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Independent Variable
The variable that the researcher will manipulate
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Dependent Variable
The variable that the researcher will measure the independent variable
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Extraneous Variable
A possible variable that could cause affect the results of the experiment of the dependent variable in an unwanted way apart from the independent variable
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Confounding Variable
If the extraneous variable does affect the experiment then it becomes a confounding variable
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Situational Variable
One type of extraneous variables. It the variable that includes outside influences. Eg weather, time of day, noise or temperature
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Control of the situation variables. All instructions given to participants are identical for everyone
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Order Effects
For example fatigue or boredom can occur when the participant is asked to undertake a certain task too many times
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One method of eliminating order effects. The researcher changes the order in which the tasks are repeated. ABBA technique.
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Order of tasks depends on random selection, for example the toss of a coin
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Participant Variable
Another type of extraneous variable. It depends on the individual differences of someone for example levels of intelligence, age or gender
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In order to be measured the variables must be operationalised. This means putting them into a form where they can be measured (stating them in a measurable form-includes numbers)
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Experimental Hypothesis
Also known as an alternative hypothesis. It is the statement that they wish to test.
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Null Hypothesis
Simply states that the results that are obtained were due to chance and not the independent variable and dependent variable
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Laboratory Experiment
These are conducted in highly controlled environments. The conditions are therefore well controlled. You can also easily control the extraneous variables
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Field Experiment
Casual relationships in more natural surrounds where the IV is still deliberately manipulated. Participants are sometimes not aware that they are involved in the experiment
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Natural Experiment
Casual relationships where the IV cannot be manipulated by the experimenter. Takes advantage of the pre-existing IV
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Quasi Experiments
Existing difference within a person which has not been manipulated eg gender. There may be confounding variables
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Informed Consent
Involves making the participant aware of what they are taking part in, the procedures, their rights and what their data is going to be used for
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Deliberately misleading or withholding information at any time during the investigation
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Protection from harm
Participants should not be placed in a situation that has higher risk than their everyday life
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If participants are asked personal questions then the answers are treated with strict confidence and they will be anonymous
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Right to Withdraw
They have the right to withdraw any information or themselves at any time throughout the investigation
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Involves explaining the experiment after it has been carried out. The aims are discussed to make sure they are fully aware of what the investigation is for. Any deception is explained, disclosed and justified
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Presumptive Consent
Ask a similar group of people if the study is acceptable. If they agree then the consent of original participants is presumed
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Prior General Consent
Participants agree to a number of studies of which one will include deception-consenting to be decieved
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Retrospective Consent
Ask for their consent during debriefing (after participating in the study)
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Peer Review
Identifies between scientific research and assumptions. This helps show research if research is true or not. Aims are to allocate research funding, validating the quality/accuracy and suggesting amendments to make improvements
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More likely to produce more honest feedback. It stops personal views of the publication due to the name being anonymous
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Publication Bias
Editors want to publish more catchy headlines or research so they prefer to publish this. Research that does not meet the criteria is ignored
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Burrying Ground-Breaking Research
Reviewers can be critical of research that counters their own views so they will not publish it if they do not agree with it
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Positive Correlation
As on variable increase, the other also increases
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Negative Correlation
As one variable increases, the other one decreases
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Correlations +/-
They are quick, less time consuming, more simple however does not show causes and effect, not much detail and there is no direction
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Naturalistic Observation
People are studied in their natural environment where everything is how it normally would be (no manipulation). Participants may not be aware they are being studied. Very high ecological validity (applied to the real world-everyday life)
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Controlled Observation
Controlled by the researcher which loses naturalness of the behaviour being studied. Participants are more likely to know they are being studied. Lower external validity
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Structured Observation
Decides in advance what they are studying- devises a checklist. This research produces quantitative data which is easy to analyse however can be hard to pin point what category the behaviour comes under. Can be carried out in timed conditions
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Unstructured Observations
Records all behaviour that they see. Can produce quantitive or qualitative data.
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Participant Observation
The researcher is part of the action that they are observing. It is more natural but it is hard to take notes whilst joining in
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Non-Participant Observation
Not part of the action that they are observing
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Covert Participation Observation
Researcher gets involved with the behaviour that they are observing without the participants knowing (going undercover)
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Covert Non-Participant Observation
Researcher does not get involved with the behaviour that they are observing but they are still undercover
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Overt Participant Observation
Researcher gets involved however the participants know that they are being observed- lacks validity as they could show demand characteristics
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Covert Non-Participant Observation
Research does not get involved however the participants know that they are being observed-social desirability (do what they expected to do)
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Internal Validity
Has internal validity if the study produced information that is relevant and about the research area rather than anything else
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Observer Bias
Affect the validity as its when the researchers expectations influence what they observe
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External/Ecological Validity
Observational studies will be more likely to be high in this as the behaviour is in the natural environment. Can be applied to the real world
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Research can be applied to everyday life (ecologuccal validity), different groups of people and different time periods
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Intra-Observer Reliability
Is the researcher consistent in applying the criteria- must be relevant
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Inter-Observer Reliability
When a team of researchers are using the checklist- is it consistent and to the same standard
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Improving Validity
In varied settings and with different participants so the results can be generalised a lot better. More than one observer can be used
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Improving Reliability
Can be trained to use the coding/checklist. They should practice and discuss their findings
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Behavioural Categories
They should be objective, cover all possible behaviours and be mutually exclusive (no overlapping)
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Event Sampling
Counting the number of times the behaviour occurs- presented in a tally. It is thorough however things could be missed out
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Time Sampling
Set a time scale on your observations. Watch for ten minutes for example. It is an easier way but may miss behaviour as some behaviours may occur when not in the time slot
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Qualitative Data
Written information
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Quantative Data
Numerical Data
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Self-Report Technique
Any method in which a person is asked to state or explain their own feelings, thoughts, emotions, opinions or behaviour related to the topic
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A set of written questions used to assess a persons thoughts or feelings and/or experiences. Used to assess the dependent variables
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A live encounter where a person is asked a set of questions. Questions mat be set or developed as the interview proceeds
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Closed Questions
Fixed set of questions eg yes/no response-not elaborated. Very limited data collected but is easy to analyse
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Open Questions
Allows people to discuss their opinions/thoughts in their own words (qualitative data)
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Likert scales
Circling a number to show the extent to which they agree or disagree
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Questionnaires +/-
Responses may not always be truthful-demand characteristics/social desirability however they are cost effective, gather large amounts of data quickly and can be easily compared
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Structured Interview
Pre-determined questions that are asked in a fixed order-like a questionnaire
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Unstructured Interview
No set questions, there will be a general topic discussed which will be freely flowing so the participant can elaborate and say their opinions if they want to
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Semi-Structured Interview
List of questions but there can be follow up questions when the interviewer feels appropriate
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Case Studies
Portray real life situations that involvve decisions made by participants on a set of questions or through a discussion in a classroom. Presented to groups of people for analysis
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Case Studies +/-
It exposes participants to real life situations, improves analytical thinking and develops someones view point however it is difficult to find appropriate case studies and there are many different interpretations so there is no right answer
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How consistent the results are - if experiment is repeated then will the same results occur again
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Retest Reliabitlity
Repeat the experiment and then compare the results. There is control and replication
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Test-Retest Reliability
Piece of research is administrated again at different times to assess the consistency. eg iq test given several times to make sure it is reliable
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Inter Rater Reliability
Where it is difficult to replicate as the experiment is conducted in a natural environment where extraneous variables differ. Test is repeated many times and a percentage is worked out
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Single Blind Technique
Only the researcher knows about the study and not the participants
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Double Blind Technique
Neither the researcher or the participant knows about the study
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Content Validity
Does it look right
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Predictive Validity
Predicts future performance with some accuracy
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Concurrent Validity
Compares two methods of testing to see if the results are comparable
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Mundane Realism
To what extent is the experimental situation a realistic version of the world- the experience whereas ecological is the setting of the environment
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Pilot Study
Small scale trial to make sure the experiment works- the equipment and do people understand the questions
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Independence Groups
Different participants in each group or condition-two separate groups take part in two different conditions
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Repeated Measures
Same participants are used in each group or condition- there is only one group which takes part in both conditions
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Practice Effects
Participants have already completed the first condition so may be well practiced for the second condition
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Matched Pairs
Participants in each group are different but they are matched together due to key characteristics eg gender or age
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Opportunity Sampling
Taking the sample from people who are available at the time the study is being carried out and with people who fit the criteria. It is very convenient and cheaper however it is biased and can be only a small part of the targeted population
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Random Sampling
Every member of the population has an equal chance of being chosen. It involves identifying everyone in the target population and then selecting the number of participants needed in a way that gives everyone equal chance- eg random name generator
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Stratified Sampling
Classifying the population into categories and then choosing a sample which consists of participants from each category in the same proportions as they are in the population. This can be generalised however you would need a lot of people
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Volunteer Sampling
Consists of participants who have volunteered or responded when asked or due to an advert. This is easier as participants come to you so it is less time consuming however it would attract certain types of people
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Systematic Sampling
When every nth person is selected from the target population. This avoids researcher bias and is also representative however it can end up being gender bias for example
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Nominal Data
Data is organised into separate categories (names) eg pps hair colour or male/female. not measuring anything-use a bar chart
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Ordinal Data
Data can be ordered in some way-ranked. eg number of words recalled in a memory test. Histogram is used for ordinal data
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Interval or Ratio Data
Put things in order and determine the difference between adjacent members on that scale
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Measures of Central Tendency
Mean, median and mode
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It uses all the values but cannot be used with nominal data (named categories)
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It is not affected by extreme scores and is quick and easy to calculate however not all the values are used
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It is useful when data is in categories (nominal data) and shows the most important but it is not useful when there are several modes
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Measure of Dispersion
The range +1 (highest-lowest+1)
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Standard Deviation
Large number-further away Small number-more clustered around the mean
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Sign Test
Identifies whether the results are significant or not. Add the number of times the last frequent value appears, add all pps numbers then - no change ones. Use the table to identify and use S and N
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Content Analysis
Analysequalitative data that is produced and not observing the people directly. Need a sampling method and then which behavioural categories to use
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Card 2


Also known as a one tailed hypothesis. It makes it clear what will happen between the two conditions. Eg Alcohol will increase reaction times


Directional Hypothesis

Card 3


Also known as a two-tailed hypothesis. States the difference but does not state what direction the difference will take. Eg Alcohol will affect someones reaction times


Preview of the back of card 3

Card 4


The variable that the researcher will manipulate


Preview of the back of card 4

Card 5


The variable that the researcher will measure the independent variable


Preview of the back of card 5
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ecologuccal *drops mic*

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