Chapter 4 Practical Issues in Planning Your Research

Chapter 4
Practical Issues in Planning Your
Practical Questions in Planning
• Simplifying complex questions to generate a
manageable research question
• Deciding the nature of the variables you want
to investigate
Understanding Your Research
• Finding published research relating to your
research question through a literature search
• Deciding how you will measure your variables
• Understanding the nature of the participants
to be tested in the research
Conducting Your Study
• Deciding on the type of research
– Descriptive
– Survey
– Correlational
– Experimental
• Evaluating ethical issues of your research
• Determining the Research Setting
– Laboratory (often theoretical)
– Natural environment (often applied)
Choosing Your Methodology
Research Methodologies
Observational Research—Recording naturally occurring behavior without intervention
or manipulation of variables
Correlational Research—Identifying whether different behaviors, thoughts, and
attitudes change together in predictable ways
Experimental Research—Manipulating the research setting to identify causes of
Quasi- experimental research—Comparing existing groups to see if they differ
Survey research—Asking respondents to answer questions on questionnaires,
inventories, and tests
Case study research—In-depth research of a single individual or a few people without
any manipulation of the environment
Longitudinal research—Monitoring behavior of a group over an extended period
Archival research—Using existing information (e.g., documents, newspaper reports,
etc.) to address behavioral issues
Qualitative research—Studying people in their natural environment descriptively
(without numerical analyses) and holistically
Choosing Your Methodology
• Selecting Research Materials and Procedures
– To what materials will you expose your
– What materials have other researchers used?
• Finding materials and methods other researchers have
used will save time in planning a new project
• It is appropriate to use others’ materials as long as you
cite them properly and attribute their work to them
Choosing Your Methodology
Why Methodology is Important
Different materials can lead to different
Awareness of the effect of your materials is
Different types of participants can generate
different results
Choosing Participants or Subjects
• Identifying possible participants
– Population—The entire set of people or data that
are of interest to the researcher
– Sample—A subset of the population that actually
takes part in the research
– Representative sample—A subset of the
population that resembles the entire population
so that results from that sample can be applied to
the entire population
Choosing Participants or Subjects
• Deciding how many participants to include
– Too large a sample is costly
– Too small a sample can miss important results
• Issues
– With highly variable behavior, you need larger
– With heterogeneous populations, you need larger
– With small experimental effects, you need larger
Controversy: Comparing Animal and
Human Stress
• Can you generalize from animals to people?
– Researchers have used experimental stress to induce
learned helplessness in animals
– Animals who are stressed may not show typical
patterns of conditioning
• People who experience similar stress show
similar patterns of behavior as animals
• Sometimes animal behavior is a good predictor
of human behavior
– Researchers need to be aware of the limitations in
their ability to generalize from animals to people
Differing Approaches in Different Areas
of Psychology
• Different approaches in different journals
• Theoretical research journals
– Report laboratory research much of the time
– Rely on experimental approaches
– Feature college students as participants
• Applied research journals often report
– Report on laboratory research much of the time
– Rely on non-experimental approaches
– Feature people in the working world as participants
Differing Approaches in Different Areas
of Psychology
Making choices in your research design
• Choices are based on practicalities
– How limited is your time, energy, and money?
– Can you manipulate an environment (laboratory
or applied) to your desire?
– How simple a research setting make sense for
your research