Research Method in Psychology

Experimental designs are held In a controlled environment with all the variables being tightly controlled by the researcher. There is very little doubt for ambiguity and if the experiments are done properly, causal statements can be made. In this way, psychologist could safely predict repeated specific behavioral outcomes in the future. The experimental method clearly shows the reason why behavior occurs and this Is the methods mall advantage. Randomly assigning subjects Is crucial as It means subjects are solely by chance.

If not researchers are unable in a tightly controlled environment to see the preferences in behavior between a preexisting factor and a reaction from the independent variable (Taylor, Appeal & Sears, 2006). The research is replicable giving refined results, establishing additional confidence to the hypothesis and due to its tight controls the experimental method also shows If any one of the hypothesis Is worth studying In the first place. This method also allows for multi-level test.

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The experimental method has Its drawbacks too. Some researchers claim that being held in a controlled environment is in it self artificial, intrusive and lacking validity as exponents tend to react differently than they would normally, if it was a real-life situation. Also the experimental method rigidly centers on structured data and test the hypothesis in a certain restricted fashion. It does not show the relationship between variables, only the effects each variable have on a theory.

Biasness occurs If the experimenter views findings In their own way excluding or overlooking other variables concerned that could have attributed to the results of the test. Problems could occur in multi-level tests as managing increased numbers of respondents and he time consumed for the experiment could be overwhelming (Martin, 2000). The correlation observation method tests for correlation between two variables without controlling or manipulating either one of them experimentally.

As it only records events relating to its variables It Is flexible and more humanistic In Its approach compared to the experimental method. The mall advantage with the correctional method is research studies are possible where intervention is not possible and it is efficient in collecting large amounts of data for further research. However the limitation to this research is reverse-causality problem. It could occur as the study is ambiguous. A third-variable could be the actual cause responsible and not the first two variables Initially tested.

Ambiguity in this area makes the correlation study doubtful for studying cause-and-effect relationship. The big disadvantage for this moment Is Tanat ten variable measures cannot De concluded to De ten cause AT ten behavioral outcome (Taylor, Appeal & Sears, 2006). A debate between the tobacco industry and the US Surgeon General on the consequences of smoking showed correlating evidence of smoking to lung cancer and other related illnesses but it loud not pinpoint that smoking is the actual cause for lung cancer and other related illnesses as claimed by the US Surgeon General.

Martin (2000) concluded that there could also be another reason for the illnesses of these Victims’ as he states that studies have shown that nervous people could also stimulate malignancy. Therefore the variable measured cannot be concluded to be the cause of the behavioral outcome Martin (2000). Other research methods in psychology include observational research, participants’ observation, archival research, meta-analysis, case histories, surveys and questionnaires. The observational research is a widely used research technique using field studies giving in-depth study into behaviors of individuals or groups in a particular surrounding.

Some psychologists believe that this form of descriptive research will not change or distort the true behavior of participants, particularly in animals. The two forms of observational research include the naturalistic observation research studying behavior in its natural habitat without the researcher’s presence affecting it and the participant observation where the researcher is known to the group or is directly involved by being part of the group. A naturalistic observation carried out by Jane Goodly with a group of chimps was held in the chimps’ natural habitat the forest.

After several years she discovered that these animals did use tools in their daily lives. Negative results were produced when this research was carried out in the artificial confinements of the zoo, as compared to their natural habitat. (Martin, 2000. Goodwin, 2005) Due to the realistic nature of the research the naturalistic observation lacks control of the variables and if anyone of them under investigation changes it systematically changes the variable being observed. The researcher may then loose control over the research.

Biasness could occur from the observer and participant behavior. Observer bias occurs when observers have a fixated belief or opinion on the theory being observed thereby affecting the recorded data. To keep this in control, more researchers could be employed to prevent the interpretation of data in ones own perceived way. This could bring up the cost of the research. Also, data collected could be astronomical, overwhelming and unmanageable to handle and organize. Participants’ biasness occurs if they react differently from the norm when under observation (Martin, 2000).

Jane Goodly took three months for the chimps to get accustomed to her (Goodwin, 2005). The time taken was unpredictable. Cost of research from logistics to equipment to researchers’ time could be costly, and for the case of Jane Goodly, if the chimps did not accept her presence, the whole research could have gone to waste. Participating observers avoids interpretation of data instead they try to describe as accurately as possible the circumstances they have observed which is a more humanistic approach.

Flexibility is given to the participants, as they are unrestricted in describing their feelings, experiences and attitudes. A classical example of participant’s observation research is the cognitive dissonance theory developed by Leon Festering. His study When Prophecy Fails’ describes how aliens told Mrs.. Ketch that flooding would destroy most of North America. Festering seized a research opportunity Ana together Witt Nils team Colane ten group as participant observers (Goodwin 2005).

The advantage is Festering knew first hand how the group actually felt and by using this method he managed to prove his theory. The disadvantages are the difficulty in data collection if the researcher wants to remain unnoticed. Festering and his team had to rely on memory, which could prove unreliable and due to the amount of data obtained with so much communication from participants, researchers could easily get lost, confused and find the data difficult to organize and manage.

Festering and his colleagues had concerns and faced reactivity and ethical issues as their presence might have contributed to strengthening their belief of the prophecy. The researcher needs to remain neutral when involved otherwise observer bias could disrupt the actual results of the research (Goodwin 2000). Ethnographers’ studies known cultures and conduct their search in similar ways as to participants’ observation and face similar advantages and disadvantages. Archival research bases its analysis on historical data.

Using archival research data is economical as it could cost millions to collect the data and next to nothing to use it (Taylor, Appeal & Sears, 2006). At times data may be impossible to replicate or difficult to obtain. Using existing archival data, it is possible to conduct research into areas like correlating marriages to age of couples or murders of children to stepparents. Disadvantage is the data originally collected was or another purpose. The study the researcher has on hand now may therefore not tally with archival data.

Any additional data needed for further studies is unavailable and the reliability of the collected data is also questionable as most likely untrained scientist and not researchers may have collected them. It could also be messy to organize (Martin, 2000). Meta-analysis is similar to the archival research. It interprets and finds data from a collection of studies based on the same topic. Smith and Glass (1997) evaluated the effectiveness of various therapies on psychotherapy that involved 375 studies and 50,000 people.

This research is useful in obtaining the bigger picture of a particular study. The disadvantage here is the ability to systematically handle large amount of data that has accumulated over the years from various studies and Journals done by different researchers with different methods, measures and samples (Barnyard & Grayson, 2000) Case histories are qualitative research methods recording detailed behavior of a case in its natural background, mostly carried out on a person’s life or frequently recurring situations like aircraft accidents.

Data collected could be complex as it details reconstruction of events and most likely it could be verbal data. It relies heavily on a person memory, as researchers need to reconstruct past events, participant’s bias could occur, as people tend to make mistakes or exaggerate when recalling past events and relying on ones long-term memory. The main disadvantage is the inability to establish causality as the data accumulated in these case histories are not conducted experimentally.

Another concern is the researchers’ biasness. It is best to remain skeptical in drawing conclusions only from case history reports. The disadvantages mentioned require that more than one method of research to be carried out before determining any conclusions (Martin, 2000). Surveys consist of interviews, in person, on the phone, through the Internet and on written format. A quantitative research method, surveys do not observe, compare or manipulate variables. It merely collects lots of data.

Designed Witt mainly structured quaternaries, ten advantage to surveys Is I t craws out information from respondents’ immediately, and results measured provides almost accurate accounts of attitudes, beliefs, inclined behaviors or values of a signaled group of people, instead of trying to deduce it from the behavior they exhibit. Researchers using this method believe that if the relationship studied is a powerful one, it will replicate for most people despite how they have been selected to contribute to the study (Taylor, Appeal & Sears, 2006).

Questionnaires should be clear, straightforward avoiding sentences with the possibility of having two or more answers, with short and brief questions avoiding impatience from the participant. Interviewers could be trained on conducting interviews on the phone or in-person so that they would be more approachable. The disadvantage to surveys is the result shows what respondents say or think, but not necessarily how they act. An example of a survey done by the Gallup Organization on church attendance states 40% of respondents claimed attendance once a week.

But when Kirk Headway and Penny Long Marker (1998) decided to re-confirm these fugues they found that the actual figure was closer to 20% than it was to 40%. This shows that people tend to exaggerate or underestimate the things they actually do (Martin 2000). Furthermore, participants in surveys may try to be helpful and believe in cooperating with answers. When surveys are carried out in a face-to-face or phone interview it produces highly comprehensive information as unclear questions could be clarified immediately by the interviewer.

Also, in an interview, researchers are certain that they are actually talking to the person the survey were meant for unlike with surveys that are mailed out either by post or electronically. In this case the sample could be self-selected as it could allow a young teenager for example, and not the one who the survey is intended for, to answer the questionnaire. Particularly for e-surveys, the nouns teenager could be responding back to your survey a hundred times a day for a week or two. ‘ (Goodwin, 2005) Interviews have their drawbacks too. Hiring and training interviewers cost money.

At times some segments of the population may not want to be interviewed or they simply could not be found. At other times interviewers would also prefer to avoid certain unsafe area and expenses required for traveling could be substantial. Logistic problems of sending interviewers long distances to the area surveyed are possibly made geographically smaller to reduce costs. In this way, hone surveys prove advantages as it eliminates the cost of logistics and people could be contacted within a shorter time period. The interviewer does not have to venture out in public where he may be physically assaulted in crime-ridden areas.

Also, interviewer bias could be prevented as they do not meet face-to-face (Martin, 2000). The disadvantage to phone survey are that many phone numbers today are unlisted and Lavas (1998) estimates that one third of the phone numbers are not listed in the directories (Goodwin, 2005). Two-income families prevail and most people are at work, not home to answer the phone and with heavy reliance on cell hone technologies people could turn off the phone making them unreachable. Another form of survey is the written format which could be administered individually or in a group setting.

It could be sent via mail to the participants but this could bring up the cost due to postage and printed mailers. Furthermore there is a possibility that the participants may not respond, mailers could get lost or the sample sell-selects, as Montreal above (Marten, 2 Researchers today rely naively on the Internet for data collection as not only is it easier to recruit participants from verse backgrounds, in different countries and from specialized groups, it also stops focusing on mainly college students as sampling subjects.

Goodwin (2005) says ‘E- surveying promises to occupy a large niche in the twenty-first century survey businesses’ (up 412). In this way data is efficiently recorded as the information is automatically saved when the research task is completed online. It is also much more economical than conventional research methods. Internet chat rooms, bulletin boards also provide rich samples of social behaviors where people are able to issues freely on current social issues, from hobbies to medical problems to technical topics. These forums provide a rich source of studies into prejudice, communications and new ideas (Taylor, Peplum, Sears, 2006).

The main advantage of e-survey is that a huge amount of data could be acquired over a reasonably short period of time with practically no cost to the researcher, only the researcher’s time and fee for the surveying software. There is no added cost for postage, phone or interviewers travel or logistics cost. Anderson & Kanata (2003) estimated that e-survey cost about one- .NET of the cost of a comparable mailed survey and with internet on for twenty-four hours everyday, e-survey can be completed in less time than other survey forms (Goodwin, 2005).

The disadvantage is that data obtained could for various reasons be biased. Respondents may not come from the income level stipulated in the e-survey. Or, the sample is self-selected as already mentioned above. Also e-survey may appear as spam mail and runs the risk of angering its users. Anderson & Kanata, (2003) estimated that 85% of e-mail users delete e-mails without reading it, at least one time. However to counter this problem, a catch phrase could be included to catch the respondents’ attention to open the mail (Goodwin, 2005).

Another disadvantage is that individuals could answer research studies more than once and researchers are not able to control the environment of the subject, whether the research was answered at home or at work, the mood the subject was in or did anyone else help to answer the questions pose in the research. Undesirable distractions could be endless. However psychologist is very much aware of this and they are trying to minimize the problems for this very efficient new research method.

In order for science to understand behavior we need to collect relevant information, organize it and re-construct the data into knowledge, so as to build theories to better understand the human behavior. Using methods in combinations is probably best as collaboration within the research community helps circumvent the disadvantage of only having a conclusion drawn upon one research method alone. It is important to have a good sample selection when conducting a research. Random sampling is done to have a collection of people from a larger population as according to the laws of arability it represents the population with minimal errors.

Many social psychologist uses college students as samples because they are readily available. But depending on the type of research required, sometimes college students lack experience and results could be misleading. For example, they do not have work experience; therefore it is not feasible to test for computing equipment that is needed in the offices. Also college students are used to taking test, has a less developed attitude, young and are more adaptable to change. This makes them Inappropriate Tort some campanological research.

In ten past, campanological research has been over represented by white male participants making critics question if the studies applies to females too. Ethnic minorities have been under represented and furthermore, for sometime now there is a growing ethnic mixture in most communities and countries particularly in America. This diversity makes it more challenging to study all segments of population which has grown to be equally important, otherwise the correct sampling cannot be obtained to represent the population. Therefore research using data collected in the past could prove unreliable (Taylor, Appeal & Sears, 2006).

In addition, the poor and the homeless are normally left out in a survey ultimately affecting the sample population and depending on the survey in question; the data affected could be unreliable. Field or laboratory is another factor to consider when choosing where to conduct the research. The advantage to a field study is it’s conducted in the ‘natural habitat’. For example it is best to study productivity of factory workers on the factory floor not in a controlled laboratory. In contrast, the laboratory research is artificial as it is not the normal environment for the participants and it is very much controlled by the searcher.

In laboratory research researchers can randomly assign participants to conditions and control the exposure to specific experiences minimizing the effects of extraneous variables. The laboratory is ideal for studying exactly how one variable is affected by another because the researcher has a control over the dependent variable and this result in more precise studies. In a field study it is not possible to manipulate the independent variable and subjects can not be randomly assigned to situations. It is also not certain if everyone is experiencing the same thing. In this ay it is difficult to get precise measures of the dependent variable.

However the most advantages of a field study is in the realism of the situation. External validity is available to better reflect the outside world. Also at times field studies are able to use powerful variables that would be impossible to replicate. Like a study on how natural disasters affect homeowners. Parker, Brewer, and Spencer (1988) conducted a field study of a community who had recently suffered from bushfire. Field study reflects the everyday life, therefore the responses are spontaneous, and something that is official to obtain in a laboratory study (Taylor, Peplum, Sears, 2006).

Data collection is an important factor in research methods. Researchers have three options to collect data. Participants can do a self report on their behaviors, feelings or thoughts, participants can be directly observed or researchers could use archival data originally collected for other purposes. Self report is the most common technique used. Its main advantage is it allows the researcher to study the subjective states like perceptions, emotions and attitudes as it could be difficult to measure a feeling Just y observing a subject.

However the subject needs to be reliable to give honest descriptions to their thoughts, feelings and attitudes but people often disguise feelings like prejudice and at other times the subjects may not even be aware that they actually have such feelings. Bias is another big concern in research and there are two; the experimenters’ behavior and subjects’ feelings. Experimenter bias occurs when the experimenter either consciously or otherwise influence the subjects behavior. The question asked could either be leading or misleading the subject.

For example if the experimenter poses a question on sex amongst preteens, the researcher could unilaterally Thrown on ten answer Ana tens may affect ten next question the subject has to answer. Also an overly excited researcher might be too aggressive in his approach scaring the subject to an answer he or she really did not agree with. The second set of bias stems from the subjects reasons and objectives as they know that they are being studied. This may alter the subject true behavior and their responses by trying to give ‘politically correct’ answers to the questions posed or retesting to be more liberal than they actually are.

It is difficult to draw accurate conclusions when the subjects answer in such bias ways (Taylor, Appeal & Sears, 2006). Psychological research methods and techniques are plagued with a broad spectrum of problems that could stem from methods of data collection, biasness in results. In today’s research the emphasis is placed more on the mental processes which are next to impossible to measure. For now the world is only equipped to measure the behavioral outcome of what is believed to be the mental process.

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