Research Methods in Psychology

  Research methods in Psychology

Research methodology: It is the definite method or techniques used to recognize, select, process, and examine information about a topic.  In a research paper, the methodology segment allows the reader to critically evaluate a study’s overall validity and reliability.

Observation: One basic technique for studying behavior – or any other aspect of the world-involves carefully observing it as it occurs. It is one method for collecting research data. It involves observing a participant and recording significant behavior for later analysis. They do this because they wish to make careful observations of the physical events that occur as tornadoes actually take shape. Researchers use systematic observation, which is a basic method of science in which the natural world, or various events or processes in it, are observed and measured in a very careful manner.

Naturalistic observation: Observing behavior where it normally occurs: Naturalistic observation is often used in the study of animal behavior; it is sometimes applied to human beings as well- as especially to behavior in public places such as airports, shopping malls, and hotel hobbies. For example, recent studies have used such methods to study how and when people touch each other in public places.

Case studies: Generalizing from the unique: Every human being is unique; each of the individual possesses a distinctive combination of traits, abilities, and characteristics.  It is detailed information to formulate principles or reach conclusions that, presumably, apply to large number of persons- perhaps to all human beings. However, this method suffers from several important drawbacks. First, if the person studied is unique, it can be misleading to generalize from them to other human beings. Second, because researchers using the case method often have repeated contact with the individuals they study, there is a real risk that they will become emotionally involved with these people and thus lose their scientific objectivity, at least to a degree.

Surveys: The science of self-report: A research method in which large numbers of people answer questions about aspects of their views or their behavior. The survey methods offer several advantages. Information can be gathered quickly and efficiently from thousands of people. In order to be useful research tool, however, a survey must meet certain requirements. First, if the goal is to predict some event, great care must be devoted to the issue of sampling- how the people who will participate in the survey are selected. Unless these people are representative of the larger population about which predictions will be made, serious errors can result.

Correlational method:  It is a research method in which researchers attempt to determine whether, and to what extent, different variables are related to each other. The discovery of correlations between variables allows individual to make predictions. In fact, the stronger such correlations are, the more accurate the predictions that can be made. In this approach, psychologists or other scientists attempt to determine whether, and to what extent, variables are related to each other. This involves making careful observation of each variable and then performing statistical analyzes to determine whether and to what extent the variables are correlated.

Experimental Method: A research method in which researchers scientifically alter one or more variables in order to regulate whether such changes influence some aspect of behavior. In its most basic form, the experimental method in psychology involves two key steps: 1) the presence or strength of some variable believed to affect behavior is systematically shared. 2) The effects of such modification are carefully measured. The factor systematically varied by the researcher is termed the independent variable, while the aspect of behavior studied is termed the dependent variable. In order to provide clear information on cause- and effect relationships, experiments must meet two key requirements. The first involves what is termed random assignment of participants to conditions. Ensuring that all research participants have an equivalent chance of being visible to each level of the independent variable (that is, of being assigned to each experimental condition). For instance, a researcher who believes that magnets do have favorable effects may act in a slightly friendlier or more reassuring manner towards participants who receive real magnets than toward ones who do not. These subtle differences may be unintentional and unconscious, but they can still affect participants’ activities. Such unintended effects produced by researchers are known as experiment effects, and they can be deadly to the scientific value of a research project. This is one reason why many studies in psychology employ a double- blind procedure, in which researchers who have contact with participants do not know the hypothesis under investigation or the condition to which participants have been assigned.

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