Psychology unit 1 chapter 2 – Research Methods Steps in Psychological Research

Scientific Method
Scientific method is a series of systematic and orderly steps which researchers use to plan, conduct and report research. It ensures data is valid and reliable.

The Conclusion(s) are justified by the data obtained.

The study is repeatable with similar results.

Step 1 in a Scientific Method
Identification of the research problem. Do a literature search and look for published reports. Refine ideas and propose a research question.

Step 2 in a Scientific Method
Construction of a hypothesis. A research hypothesis is a testable prediction of the relationship between two or more variables. It is an educated guess. It is a statement, it is expressed clearly, it is written as a single sentence and can be tested.

Step 3 in a Scientific Method
Designing the method. Determine how the hypothesis is best tested. Must determine the number, allocation, assignation of participants. Participants are people who take part in the research. The responses from participants form data. All methods include observation of responses.

Step 4 in a Scientific Method
Collecting the data. Researchers must organize participants to conduct their study. They can use a variety of data collection techniques: direct observation, questionnaire, interview, psychological test, recording body responses, examining archival files. This data is raw data that hasn’t been processed in a meaningful way.

Step 5 in a Scientific Method
Analyzing data. Once the data has been collected, it needs to be summarized, organized and represented in a logical way. Then it is analyzed and summarized.

Step 6 in a Scientific Method
Interpreting the data. Draw a conclusion. A conclusion is a judgement about what the results of a research study mean. A generalisation is another type of conclusion. A generalisation is a judgement about how widely the findings of a research study can be applied. If the findings can in fact be generalised more widely, then the research study is said to have external validity. External validity means that the conclusion(s) made from the research can be generalized to the population from which the sample in the study was drawn.

Step 7 in a Scientific Method
Reporting the research findings. Reporting to others at a conference or journal. A journal is a publication that contains reports of research. The report describes, in detail, the background information of the research, the way in which the research study was conducted, the findings (results and conclusions) of the study, how the findings can be interpreted and applied, any relevant problems encountered in conducting the study which may have affected the findings, and a list of references used in preparing for the for the study and writing the report.

Research Method
A research method is a way of conducting a study to collect data. All research methods use some type of scientific procedures and their use of participants.

An experiment is used to test whether one variable causes an effect to another variable. In an experiment, the researcher manipulates the participant’s experiences to measure whether it causes a predetermined response. Undertaking experimental research enables the researcher to test for a cause effect relationship. To see if the effect is caused by the method.

A survey is an appropriate way to collect data by asking participants about thoughts, feelings or behaviour.

Experimental research
Experimental research includes all type of experiments. It involves the manipulation of the experiment.

Descriptive research
Descriptive Research includes all the research methods that focus on studying aspects of behaviour and mental processes.

A variable is something that can change in amount over time. There are three types of variables.

Independent variable
An independent variable is the variable manipulated or changed. It causes changes in the other variable.

Dependent variable
A dependent variable is used to measure the effects of the independent variable. It is the effect of the independent variable.

Extraneous variable
An Extraneous variable is a variable other than the independent variable that can change the results of the dependent variable. There are two different types of extraneous variables:

Participant variable
A type of extraneous variable. Participant variables are individual differences in the participant such as age or gender.

Experimenter variable
A type of extraneous variable. Experimenter variables are the individual differences in the experimenter.

Experimental group
The experimental group in an experiment is the group with an independent variable. It is exposed to an experimental conditions.

Control group
The control group is the group that has the independent variable absent. It provides a standard of comparison.

Advantages of Experimental research
Minimal extraneous variables.
Greater control over environment and participants.
The Independent variable can be manipulated to observe the effect on the dependent variable.
Can set up experiment multiple times.

Limitations of Experimental research
Too artificial compared to real life.
Some things cannot be measured (breakup in families) such as grief hate or love.
It is hard for participants to naturally express emotions.

A sample is a subsection, or smaller group, of research participants selected from a larger group.

The term population refers to the entire group of research interest from which a sample is drawn.

The process of selecting participants for a sample is called sampling.

Representative sample
When a researcher selects a sample that represents its population, the sample is called a representative sample. A representative sample is a sample that is approximately the same as the population from which it is drawn in every important participant characteristic. There are two ways of obtaining representative samples:

Random sampling
A way of choosing representative samples. Random sampling is a sampling procedure that ensures that every member of the population of research interest has a genuinely equal chance of being selected as a participant for the research study.

Sampling frame
A sampling frame is a complete list of people in a population. After obtaining this, the experimenter can use lottery to obtain samples. A type of random sampling.

Stratified sampling
A way of choosing representative samples. Stratified sampling involves dividing the population to be sampled into different subgroups, or strata, then selecting a separate sample from each subgroup (called stratum) in the same proportions as they occur in the population of interest.

Random stratified sample
When random sampling is used to select a sample from each stratum, this is called random-stratified sampling.

Random allocation
In random allocation, also called random assignment, participants selected for the experiment are just as likely to be in the experimental group as the control group.

Descriptive research
Descriptive research refers to a research method that focuses on studying and describing one or more aspects of thoughts, feelings or behaviour as they occur at a given time and place.

Case study
A case study is an intensive, in-depth investigation of some behaviour or event of interest in an individual, small group or situation. In a clinical setting, a case study is often referred to as a case history or a clinical observation.

Advantages of case studies
Provide a snapshot of actual experience.
Provide insight to how others think feel or behave.
Provide valuable sources of hypotheses.

Limitations of case studies
Too little sample size.
Generalizing for the rest of the population is uncertain.
Biased information from a participant.

Any means by which a phenomenon (an observable event) is studied.

Observational study
An observational study involves collection of data by carefully watching and recording behaviour as it occurs. Psychologists use observational studies to collect data in research when the behaviour under investigation is clearly visible and can be easily recorded.

Naturalistic observation
A type of observational study. In naturalistic observation, a naturally occurring behaviour of interest is viewed by a researcher in an inconspicuous manner so that their presence has no influence on the behaviour being observed.

Non-participant observation
When researchers try to conceal their presence while making observations, it is called nonparticipant observation.

Participant observation
Sometimes, psychologists engage in participant observation. They actually participate in the activity being observed and may deliberately try to be mistaken by the participants as being part of the group or situation being observed.

Advantages of observational studies
Able to observe long term effects.
More accurate information from long term study.
Naturalistic observation in a field setting does not require the cooperation of participants being observed.

Limitations of observational studies
Sometimes requires a lot of patience to wait for the behaviour of interest to occur.
Difficult to obtain the cause of a behaviour.
Observer bias.

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