Here’s a little guide for those of you struggling with Research Methods! Hope it helps!
Research Methods in Psychology
In order to gather accurate information from their experiments, psychologists tend to use various research methods. These methods can be described as either quantitative or qualitative.
Quantitative research methods include methods that allow psychologists to gain numerical information such as statistics and data. On the other hand, qualitative researchers are more interested in how people explain their everyday experiences, in natural settings.
In this article, we will briefly mention a few of these research methods, breaking down and analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of each method. So, are you ready? Let’s get this bread!
A lab experiment is a research method in which the investigator manipulates one or more factors (independent variables) to observe the effect on some behavior (dependent variable).
- Easy to replicate
- Allows for controls of all variables
- No extraneous variables
- Demand characteristics (show what the researcher wants)
- “Practice effects” (get better at it over time/multiple tries)
- Not easily generalized
A correlational study refers to the technique of analyzing data and the relationship between two variables.
- Results are clearly displayed
- Provide much more data than experiments
- Opens up further research
- Determine the strength and direction of a relationship
- Only shows raw data
- Only uncovers relationship (no conclusive reason)
Cross-Sectional studies are a research design conducted at a single point in time, comparing groups of differing ages to arrive at conclusions about development.
- Used to prove/disprove assumptions
- Captures a specific point in time
- Not costly/not time-consuming
- Various applications of data
- Does not help determine cause/effect
- Cannot be used to analyze behavior over a period of time
- Flawed or skewed findings
Giving out surveys is a technique for ascertaining the self-reported attitudes or behaviors of people, usually by questioning a representative, random sample of them.
- Easy to administer
- Developed in less time
- Conducted remotely
- Capable of collecting data from a large population
- Response bias (change answers to make themselves look better)
- Lead to unclear data
- Researchers can’t understand full scope behind answer received
Naturalistic observations are usually covert and undisclosed observations that attempt to document behavior as it spontaneously occurs in a real-world setting.
- Allows researchers to observe in a natural setting
- Supports external validity
- Multiple methods of data collection can be used
- Challenging to control extraneous variables
- Does not always generate accurate data
- Takes more time
- Observer bias
Case studies involve an in-depth and detailed examination of a single subject, or case, usually an individual or a small group. One type of case study is a longitudinal study . Longitudinal studies examine how individuals develop by studying the same sample over a long period of time.
- Allow a lot of details to be collected
- Simplifies complex concepts
- Stimulates new research
- Cannot be generalized
- Bias in data collection (single researcher)
- Unable to replicate
- Possibility of errors
…and that’s all!
Simple, right? Although this information may seem overwhelming at first, it’s pretty straightforward and easy to grasp especially if you look up or read about examples of each method!