Research methods in psychology

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Is defined more precisely as the scientific study of mental processes and behaviour in humans
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Mental processes
Generally refers to a person's thoughts and feelings, which are personal, or subjective and cannot be directly observed
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Refers to any externally expressed action made by a living person that can be directly observed
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Steps in psychological research
Identifying the research problem, constructing the research hypothesis, designing the method, collecting the data, analysing the data, interpreting the data, reporting of the research findings
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Involves taking steps to prevent personal factors from influencing any aspect of the research or its reporting
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Research method
Is a particular way of conducting a research study to collect accurate and reliable information about behaviour and mental processes
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Is used to test a cause-effect relationship between variable sunder controlled conditions
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Is any factor that can change ('vary) in amount or type over time.
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Independent variable
Is the variable that is systematically manipulated, changed or varied in some way by the researcher in order to assess its effect on the participants' responses.
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Dependent variable
Shows any effects of the independent variable. It is the aspect of a participant's behaviour or experience that is observed or measured ans is expected to change as a result of the manipulation of the independent variable
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A tentative testable prediction of the relationship between two or more events or characteristics
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Stated in terms of procedures
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Operational hypothesis
A research study that states how the variables being studied will be observed, manipulated and measured
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Extraneous variable
Is any variable other than the IV that can cause a change in the DV and therefore affect the results of the experiment in an unwanted way
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Confounding variable
Is a variable other than the IV that has had an unwanted effect on the DV, making it impossible to determine which of the variables has produced the change in the DV.
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Individual participant differences
The differences in personal characteristics and experiences of the individual participants in an experiment e.g age, sex
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An inactive substance or treatment which substitutes for the real substance or treatment
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Placebo effect
Occurs when there is a change in the responses of participants due to their belief that they are receiving some kind of experimental treatment and they respond in accordance with that belief, rather than to the effect of the IV.
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Experimenter effect
Occurs when there is a change in a participant's response due to the researcher's (experimenter's) expectations, biases or actions, rather than to the effect of the IV
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Order effect
Occurs when performance, as measured by the DV, is influenced by the specific order in which the conditions, treatments or tasks are presented rather than the IV.
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Practice effects
Are the influence on performance (the DV) that arises from practicing a task
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Carry-over effects
Are the influences that a particular treatment or task has on performance in a subsequent treatment or task that follows it
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Non- standardised procedures
they are not uniform, or the same, for all participants
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A subset or portion of a larger group chosen to be studied for research purposes
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Is used in psychological research to describe the larger group from which a sample is drawn
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Convenience sampling
Involves selecting participants who are readily available without any attempt to make the sample representative of the population. In most cases, it produces a biased sample because only those people available at the time and location of the study
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Convenience sampling continued
will have a chance at being included in the study. Data obtained can be misleading and cannot be properly generalised but is quick easy and inexpensive. Useful in preliminary studies and studying mental processes or behaviour that are considered to
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Convenience sampling continued
be "normal" in all similar individual despite individual differences.
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Random sampling
Is a sampling procedure that ensures every member of the population of research interest has an equal chance of being selected as a participant for the study (and that the selection of one participant does not influence the selection or non-selection
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Random sampling continued
of another.) More likely that the sample is representative of the population and therefore that assumptions made about the results are more likely to be accurate.
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Stratified sampling
Involves dividing the population to be sampled into distinct subgroups, or strata, then selecting a separate sample from each stratum in the same proportions as they occur in the target population. Commonly used to study psychological characteristics
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Stratified sampling continued
or attitudes that vary greatly among different subgroups of a population
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Random-stratified sampling
Involves identifying all of the people within each stratum of research interest, then randomly selecting samples of proportionate size from within each stratum. Sample is unbiased and representative of the population but it's time consuming and diffi
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Random-stratified sampling continued
-cult to achieve
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Random allocation
Participants selected for the experiment are as likely to be in one group as the other
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Involves systematically changing the order of treatments or tasks for participants in a 'balanced' way to counter the unwanted effects on performance of any one order.
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Between-participants counterbalancing
Involves counterbalancing the order in which the groups of participants are exposed to the experimental conditions.
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Within-participants counterbalancing
Requires each participant to be exposed to the same combination of conditions.
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Single-blind procedure
The participants are nor aware of the condition of the experiment to which they have been allocated and therefore the experimental treatment.
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Double-blind procedure
The participants and the researcher directly involved with the participants are unaware of the conditions to which the participants have been allocated.
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Repeated- measures design
Each participant in involved in both the experimental and control conditions of an experiment so that the effects of individual participant differences balance out exactly. Can result in order effects or participant attrition.
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Matched-participants design
Usually involves selection of pairs of participants who are very similar in one or more personal characteristics that can influence the DV, then allocating each member of the pair to different experimental conditions. Difficulty of knowing which vari
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Matched-participants design continued
bles to match, time consuming, pre-testing can create order effects.
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Independent groups design
Each participant is randomly allocated to one of two (or more) entirely separate conditions, or groups.
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Qualitative data
Is information about the 'qualities' or characteristics of what is being studied.
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Quantitative data
Is information about 'quantities' or amounts of what is being studied.
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Case study
Is an intensive, in-depth investigation of some behaviour or event of interest in an individual, small group or situation
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Case studies - advantages
Provide detailed information of mental processes and behaviour particularly in relation to specific disorders, no manipulation or control of variables ( usually), can provide insights into how people behave, feel or think under similar circumstances,
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Case studies - disadvantages
Cannot be replicated to test reliability, cannot alone be used to test hypotheses, Processing, summarising and reporting data can be time consuming, may not reflect typical ways of thinking, feeling and behaving so cannot be generalised
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Observational study
Involves collecting data by carefully watching and recording behaviour as it occurs.
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Naturalistic observation
The researcher views a naturally occurring behaviour of interest in an inconspicuous of 'unnoticable' manner so that their presence does not influence the behaviour being observed.
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Advantages of observational studies
can observe and record behaviours in natural real-life settings, people are not influenced by participant reactions, allows researchers to gain accurate info over time, some behaviours can only be studied as they naturally occur
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Disadvantages of observational studies
difficult to determine causes of observed behaviour, observer bias, researcher may not record behaviours they consider irrelevant or do not see
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Is the participant's written or spoken responses to questions, statements or instructions presented by the researcher
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Advantages of self-reports
Useful techniques for providing qualitative and quantitative data on how people think, feel and behave, questionnaires can help collect data from a large number, provide anonymity.
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Limitations of self-reports
can give false or misleading answers ( influenced by social desirability), qualitative data difficult to accurately and reliably analyse and interpret, free response difficult to summary and statistically analyse
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Descriptive statistics
Are used for analysing, organising, summarising and describing results.
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Inferential statistics
Are used for interpreting and giving meaning to the results.
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Measure of central tendency
Indicates the 'central' or 'average' value in a set of scores.
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An orderly arrangement and display of data in columns and rows
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Pictorial representation of the results of the study
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Line graph
Used to indicate the relationship between two variables
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Bar charts
Shows how frequently a particular category of data occurs by representing the data using a series of discrete bars next to but not touching one another
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Frequency polygon
Shows frequency of date but presented like a line graph
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Pie chart
Circular diagram that shows the proportions of scores, values or cases (usually as percentages) within a set of data.
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Statistical significance
Is used to indicate whether the difference in the results obtained for the experimental and control groups in an experiment is a real difference (due to the IV) and probably not due to chance factors alone. Significance level of any difference is
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Statistical significance continued
called the p-value.
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Is a decision or judgement about what the results obtained from an investigation mean
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Is a decision or judgement about how widely the findings of a study can be applied, particularly to other members of the population from which the sample was drawn.
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Refers to standards that guide individuals to identify good, desirable or acceptable conduct.
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Is worthwhile and justifiable by potential benefits such as advancement of knowledge and understanding, improved wellbeing of individuals or society in general and improved skill and expertise of researchers.
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Honest and ethical conduct of research, the search for knowledge, recognised principles of conducting research, communication of results whether they are favourable or unfavourable.
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The researcher values each participant as a human being and properly regards the welfare, rights, beliefs, perceptions, customs and cultural heritage of each individual.
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The researcher's responsibility to maximise possible benefits of the research to participants, to the wider community or both while minimising risks of harm or discomfort to participants
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Requires researchers as far as possible to be fair in relation to the selection, inclusion and exclusion of different categories of participants.
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Participant rights
Very Intelligent Dudes Can Do Well
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Reporting conventions
Are well-established and widely recognised standards, or rules, about how a report is written and presented.
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Order of report
Title. abstract, intro, method( participants, materials, procedure), results, discussion, references, appendices
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Card 2


Generally refers to a person's thoughts and feelings, which are personal, or subjective and cannot be directly observed


Mental processes

Card 3


Refers to any externally expressed action made by a living person that can be directly observed


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Card 4


Identifying the research problem, constructing the research hypothesis, designing the method, collecting the data, analysing the data, interpreting the data, reporting of the research findings


Preview of the back of card 4

Card 5


Involves taking steps to prevent personal factors from influencing any aspect of the research or its reporting


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