Contents • • Research Methods Planning Research • • The Experimental Method Advantages and Disadvantages • • Questioning Advantages and Disadvantages • • The Observational Method Advantages and Disadvantages • • Case Studies Advantages and Disadvantages • • Correlation Advantages and Disadvantages • Summary Research Methods Psychologists carry out research using a number of techniques. Planning Research • Formulate a hypothesis. A hypothesis is a prediction or a testable statement. • Choose an appropriate research method for testing the hypothesis. Research Methods 1) The Experimental Method 2) Questioning 3) The Observational Method 4) Case Studies 5) Correlational Method The Experimental Method • Psychologists carry out experiments both in the laboratory and in the field (the outside world). • Both methods involve the manipulation of an independent variable and the measurement of a dependent variable. • Experimental method is more controlled than other methods allowing Psychologists to claim that behaviour is a result of the independent variable. (cause and effect) Advantages and Disadvantages of the Experimental Method • Manipulation of the independent variable under controlled conditions allows cause and effect to be inferred, although there is less control in field experiment. • Experiments are artificial environments which may produce artificial behaviour. Field experiments are less artificial and therefore they are more ecologically valid. • Easy to replicate due to standardised procedure • Ethical Problems over deception, consent, invasion of privacy, potential harm etc. • More accurate data collected • Data is more objective than other methods. Questioning There are many questioning techniques. Psychologists use both interviews and questionnaires. • Questionnaires Often used to find out people’s opinions or behaviours. • They can be highly structured enabling results to be easily analysed using descriptive statistics. • Questionnaires can be less structured allowing the respondent to give further details. Interviews • This involves the researcher asking verbal questions to the participant. Interviews range from having no structure e.g just a topic area established to being very structured e.g a list of pre-prepared questions. Advantages and Disadvantages of the Questioning Method Questionnaires • • • • • • Questionnaires Questionnaires can be highly structured enabling results to be easily analysed using descriptive statistics. Easy to analyse and quantify Easy to replicate Easy to administer • • Interviews • • • Very Detailed Very Flexible allowing the researcher to explore interesting things that may arise. Lacks flexibility People may give biased answers to create a socially desirable response. Interviews Very Time Consuming Difficult to analyse and quantify Potential for participants to give incorrect responses. The Observational Method • This method involves observing people’s natural or freely chosen behaviour. Observation can take place within an experiment, but the term “observational method” usually refers to research carried out in a natural environment like a town centre. • Controlled Observations measure people’s natural behaviour, but under contrived conditions. E.g a laboratory setting. • Naturalistic Observations involve the recording of people’s natural behaviour in a natural setting. Advantages and Disadvantages of the Observational Method Controlled Observations Controlled Observations • More controlled enabling more accurate observations. • Easy to replicate Validity problems. If the participants know that there behaviour is being observed their behaviour may change. This would mean that their behaviour was unnatural. Naturalistic Observations Naturalistic Observations • High in Ecological Validity • This method is often the only appropriate and ethical method. • • Cause and Effect can not be established • Ethical Concerns. Is this an invasion of privacy? The Case Study Method • This method involves studying one individual or one social group in detail. • Case studies are often used when looking at people who have gone through an unusual experience or they are used when looking at exceptional cases e.g. looking at an individual with a rare mental disorder. • It can be used to look at a broad range of traits as opposed to a small number of traits that can easily be looked at in a laboratory. Advantages and Disadvantages of the Case Study Method • Highly detailed data is collected. • The data is high in Ecological Validity • It is often the only suitable method. E.g. Teaching a Chimpanzee to speak. (Gardner and Gardner 1969) • It is the only suitable method when researching very rare cases. A Case of Multiple Personality. E.g. Thigpen and Cleckley (1954) • It lacks generalisability to the rest of the population due to having a very small and unrepresentative sample. • No cause and effect can be legitimately established. • Very difficult to replicate. • Time Consuming and Expensive • Problems with a participants’ memory distortions when recalling past events • More potential for observer bias due to the subjective nature of the method. The Correlation • Correlation measures the relationship between 2 variables to see if there is a trend or a systematic pattern. • In Psychology the pairing of two variables would usually be a particular individual’s score in 2 variables. E.g Stress Score and Caffeine intake. Stress is not determined by caffeine intake so there can be no cause and effect from a correlation. • Correlation can be plotted out on scatter grams. Advantages and Disadvantages of the Correlation Method • Precise information about the degree of the relationship can be established by the correlation coefficient. • No manipulation of behaviour is required • Establishing a relationship between the 2 variables may imply that there could a cause and effect relationship. Further experimental research can be conducted to establish cause and effect. • No cause and effect can be established. E.g. There may be a positive correlation between caffeine intake and stress scores, but the correlation does not indicate that caffeine is causing the stress. Summary • Psychologists carry out research using experimental and non-experimental methods • Experiments are more scientific, but they lack ecological validity • Questioning people can be a useful way to measure opinions. An interview would allow more depth than a questionnaire, but a questionnaire is easier to administer. • The observational method allows observations of naturally occurring behaviour. The presence of an observer can change participants’ behaviour. • Case Studies are used when more detail is required or when looking at an unusual case. They are time consuming and lack generalisability. • A correlation indicates whether there is a relationship between 2 variables, but it does not establish cause and effect.