Wednesday, April 17, 2024

What Are The Research Methods Used In Psychology

Don't Miss

The Broader Purposes Of Scientific Research In Psychology

Research methods in developmental psychology

People have always been curious about the natural world, including themselves and their behaviour . Science grew out of this natural curiosity and has become the best way to achieve detailed and accurate knowledge. Keep in mind that most of the phenomena and theories that fill psychology textbooks are the products of scientific research. In a typical introductory psychology textbook, for example, one can learn about specific cortical areas for language and perception, principles of classical and operant conditioning, biases in reasoning and judgment, and peoples surprising tendency to obey those in positions of authority. And scientific research continues because what we know right now only scratches the surface of what we can know.

Key Takeaways


  • Practice: Find a description of an empirical study in a professional journal or in one of the scientific psychology blogs. Then write a brief description of the research in terms of the cyclical model presented here. One or two sentences for each part of the cycle should suffice.
  • Practice: Based on your own experience or on things you have already learned about psychology, list three basic research questions and three applied research questions of interest to you.
  • Watch the following TED Ed video, in which David H. Schwartz provides an introduction to two types of empirical studies along with some methods that scientists use to increase the reliability of their results:
  • Issues In Social Psychology

    • Describe the replication crisis in psychology.
    • Describe the issue with generalizability faced by social psychologists.

    2.5.1. The Replication Crisis in Social Psychology

    Today, the field of psychology faces what is called a replication crisis. Simply, published findings in psychology are not replicable, one of the hallmarks of science. Swiatkowski and Dompnier addressed this issue but with a focus on social psychology. They note that the field faces a confidence crisis due to events such as Diederick Staple intentionally fabricating data over a dozen years which lead to the retraction of over 50 published papers. They cite a study by John et al. in which 56% of 2,155 respondents admitted to collecting more data after discovering that the initial statistical test was not significant and 46% selectively reported studies that worked in a paper to be published. They also note that Nuijten et al. collected a sample of over 30,000 articles from the top 8 psychology journals and found that 1 in 8 possibly had an inconsistent p value that could have affected the conclusion the researchers drew.

    The authors state, In the long run, the lack of a viable falsification procedure seriously undermines the quality of scientific knowledge psychology produces. Without a way to build a cumulative net of well-tested theories and to abandon those that are false, social psychology risks ending up with a confused mixture of both instead.

    2.5.2. Generalizability

    Module Recap

    How Many Participants Should Be Used

    This depends on several factors the size of the target population is important. If the target population is very large then you need a fairly large sample in order to be representative.

    If the target population is much smaller, then the sample can be smaller but still be representative. There must be enough participants to make the sample representative of the target population.

    How to reference this article:

    How to reference this article:

    McLeod, S. A. . Sampling methods. Simply Psychology.

    Related Articles

    Read Also: Where’s My Water Cool Math Games

    Reasons To Use The Steps Of The Scientific Method

    The goals of psychological studies are to describe, explain, predict and perhaps influence mental processes or behaviors. In order to do this, psychologists utilize the scientific method to conduct psychological research. The scientific method is a set of principles and procedures that are used by researchers to develop questions, collect data, and reach conclusions.

    What are the goals of scientific research in psychology? Researchers seek not only to describe behaviors and explain why these behaviors occur they also strive to create research that can be used to predict and even change human behavior.

    Research Methods In Psychology

    SWOT of Research methods in cognitive psychology ...

    Research is essentially a process that we undertake when we have a question to answer, we need to acquire knowledge or we wish to extend our understanding of the psychological world. The methods we employ provide the systematic processes used to extract that information from the phenomena and find the information we were looking for, or unearth new information we didnt know was there.

    There are several research designs in psychological research that are used to investigate phenomena, such as experimental design, questionnaires, and case studies. When deciding which method to use, researchers do not just choose the method they favour most their decisions are based on which method fits best for answering the question being asked.A research paper can be analysed through three classifications set out by Collis and Hussey . Although these classifications were originally specific to business research, they are adaptable and relevant to psychological research also and are as follows:

    • Purpose of research The reason why research was initially conducted
    • Process of research The way in which the data from research was collected and analysed
    • Outcome of research Whether the outcome of research offers a general contribution to knowledge or offers a solution to a particular problem.

    Also Check: Introduction To Linear Algebra Solution Manual 4th Edition

    The Question Of Representativeness

    Along with our counterparts in the other areas of psychology, social psychologists have been guilty of largely recruiting samples of convenience from the thin slice of humanitystudentsfound at universities and colleges . This presents a problem when trying to assess the social mechanics of the public at large. Aside from being an overrepresentation of young, middle-class Caucasians, college students may also be more compliant and more susceptible to attitude change, have less stable personality traits and interpersonal relationships, and possess stronger cognitive skills than samples reflecting a wider range of age and experience . Put simply, these traditional samples may not be sufficiently representative of the broader population. Furthermore, considering that 96% of participants in psychology studies come from western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic countries , and that the majority of these are also psychology students, the question of non-representativeness becomes even more serious.

    The Purpose Of Sampling

    In psychological research we are interested in learning about large groups of people who all have something in common. We call the group that we are interested in studying our ‘target population’.

    In some types of research the target population might be as broad as all humans, but in other types of research the target population might be a smaller group such as teenagers, pre-school children or people who misuse drugs.

    It is more or less impossible to study every single person in a target population so psychologists select a sample or sub-group of the population that is likely to be representative of the target population we are interested in.

    This is important because we want to generalize from the sample to target population. The more representative the sample, the more confident the researcher can be that the results can be generalized to the target population.

    One of the problems that can occur when selecting a sample from a target population is sampling bias. Sampling bias refers to situations where the sample does not reflect the characteristics of the target population.

    Many psychology studies have a biased sample because they have used an opportunity sample that comprises university students as their participants .

    OK, so youâve thought up this brilliant psychological study and designed it perfectly. But who are you going to try it out on and how will you select your participants?

    Read Also: Geometry Dash Theory Of Everything 2

    Writing A Psychology Research Paper Shouldnt Be Difficult

    Bottom line, you need to know both research methods and statistics in psychology if you want to do an exceptional job on your next essay. If you are required to do any form of clinical psychology research, things get even more difficult. It is very important to do some research in psychology methods and design a reliable experiment or survey. Each of the methods of research in psychology we presented above is used in a very specific circumstance. Of course, you are expected to know when to use a certain method.

    One way to make sure you get a top grade on your next research paper is to get some help from experts. It would be very difficult and time consuming for you to learn all the different research methods in psychology and then to learn advanced statistics. Because yes, you really do need at least some statistics knowledge to process the data you obtain.

    A psychology expert can save you a lot of time and effort. For instance, an academic writer from our thesis writing company will most likely know all the methods of research psychology professors demand from their students. He will also know how to a statistical analysis of the data using SPSS . You can easily get help with gathering data or with analyzing the data youve already gathered. Truth be told, more than 80% of students get some help with their essays at one point or another. Why wouldnt you save some time as well?

    Final Thoughts On Psychology Research Methods

    Research Methods in Psychology: Types of Psychology Studies

    The above methods provide a cursory overview of five main psychology research methods. While they are really much more detailed in size and scope, this overview highlights the malleable nature of psychological research and the rigor involved in social science research. There are several other methods derivative of the five methods above, and there are other methodologies that are not listed here.

    This type of research occurs at all levels of academia and other settings, as masters and Ph.D. students are learning to become adept researchers while preparing for careers as academics, researchers, and the like.

    As with all research, these methodologies have their strengths and weaknesses. However, they have proven rigorous and robust over time and have produced substantive findings in the field of psychology. Despite their differences, strengths, and weaknesses, all of these methods are designed to move forward the discipline of psychology in an attempt to understand the functions of the human mind and how they impact human behaviors in specific contexts and circumstances.


    Read Also: What Do You Learn In Geography

    The Effect Of Time In Psychology Research

    There are two types of time dimensions that can be used in designing a research study:

  • Cross-sectional research takes place at a single point in time.
  • All tests, measures, or variables are administered to participants on one occasion.
  • This type of research seeks to gather data on present conditions instead of looking at the effects of a variable over a period of time.
  • Longitudinal research is a study that takes place over a period of time.
  • Data is first collected at the beginning of the study, and may then be gathered repeatedly throughout the length of the study.
  • Some longitudinal studies may occur over a short period of time, such as a few days, while others may take place over a period of months, years, or even decades.
  • The effects of aging are often investigated using longitudinal research.
  • Quantitative Research Methods In Psychology Are Based On The Research Methods Used In The Natural Sciences Disciplines To Produce Empirical Research Dr Amedeo Giorgi The Founder Of The Descriptive

    Quantitative research methods in psychology are based on the research methods used in the natural sciences disciplines to produce empirical research. Dr. Amedeo Giorgi, the founder of the descriptive phenomenological psychology method, asserts that this qualitative method can be used to arrive at empirical results related to understanding human experience. How does Dr. Giorgis method compare to quantitative research methodologies? Explain. From your vantage point, does his approach to qualitative research yield empirical evidence in understanding the human condition? Why or why not?apa format, peer review journal articles only , references in apa format, title, 550 words

    Don’t Miss: What Is Animism In Psychology

    An Excellent Research Method In Psychology: The Case Study

    The case study is one of the most effective AP psychology research methods in existence. It is a qualitative research method, of course. The definition of the case study is very straightforward. The case study is basically the observation of an individual, or even a group of individuals, over a predefined length of time.

    Why would you use this type of research methods in psychology? Well, the case study allows you to analyze how the various principles of psychology are applied in real life. And remember, the case study will enable you to write an essay pretty quickly. You just need to analyze the data at your disposal and draw the conclusions.

    Qualitative Methods Used In Psychology

    Research methods

    The three qualitative methods in the table below are commonly used to investigate psychological phenomena. These are interviews, observations, and case studies.

    These methods can elicit in-depth information that cannot always be obtained by quantitative research. Qualitative research can also explore in depth relationships that have been indicated by previous quantitative studies.


    1. Interviews

    Interviews in qualitative research are typically semi-structured or unstructured. They become focus groups where several respondents are being interviewed at the same time.


    Semi-structured interviews include both closed and open-ended questions that enable the participant to expand in detail and the researcher to use prompts to keep the responses within the framework of the research objectives. They tend to be informal and conversational in style.

    Unstructured interviews tend to be narrative in content: typically, tell me what you thought, how you acted, and how you would act now when in that situation. They tend to be flexible: the participant can be asked to expand on the parts of the the narrative of importance to the researcher.

    Focus groups typically consist of about 6 respondents where the researcher, presents the areas of investigation and keeps the group discussion on focus. It can enable participants to react to one another as they would in real life.



    May be time consuming and demanding to analyze.

    2. Observations

    3. Case studies

    You May Like: What Does Relationship Mean In Math Terms

    The Purpose Of Qualitative Research

    Again, this textbook is primarily about quantitative research in psychology. The strength of quantitative research is its ability to provide precise answers to specific research questions and to draw general conclusions about human behaviour. This method is how we know that people have a strong tendency to obey authority figures, for example, or that female undergraduate students are not substantially more talkative than male undergraduate students. But while quantitative research is good at providing precise answers to specific research questions, it is not nearly as good at generating novel and interesting research questions. Likewise, while quantitative research is good at drawing general conclusions about human behaviour, it is not nearly as good at providing detailed descriptions of the behaviour of particular groups in particular situations. And it is not very good at all at communicating what it is actually like to be a member of a particular group in a particular situation.

    Causal Or Experimental Research

    When most people think of scientific experimentation, research on cause and effect is most often brought to mind. Experiments on causal relationships investigate the effect of one or more variables on one or more outcome variables. This type of research also determines if one variable causes another variable to occur or change. An example of this type of research would be changing the amount of a specific treatment and measuring the effect on study participants.

    Read Also: What Is Chunking In Psychology

    Types Of Experimental Method

    Some major types of the experimental method include,

    1. Lab Experiments

    It is difficult to conduct some experiments in natural settings as many extraneous variables can become a problem for the research. So, researchers conduct the experiments in a controlled manner in laboratories or research centers. It is easy to manage the independent and dependent variables in the controlled settings. For example, if the researcher wants to study the effect of different kinds of music like pop, classical, etc., on the health of the patients, then the researcher will conduct this study in a room rather than in a natural environment as its easy to keep extraneous variables constant in the closed settings. Here, music is the independent variable and health is the dependent variable. If the same experiment is conducted outside the lab, then extraneous variables like sunlight, weather, noise, etc., may interfere with the study and manipulate the results of the research.

    2. Field Experiments

    3. Quasi Experiments

    Psychology Research Methods: The Experiment

    Psychology research methods

    You will find many research methods in psychology book or journal publications. However, did you know that the one of the most effective types of research methods in psychology is still the experiment? In fact, the experiment is widely used in most sciences. There are some very strict principles involved in experiments.

    For instance, one of the principles is that you must have a control group that is not affected in any way by your experiment. The second principle is the control of variables principle. It states that you should take all the precautionary measures to ensure no extraneous data makes its way into your experiment. Here are the basic steps to do an experiment for a psychology research paper, in case you need a short guide:

  • You start by identifying the problem or by finding a question your experiment can answer.
  • You then define all your variables. These are the things that influence the result of your experiment.
  • Create a hypothesis. This hypothesis will explain how the variables are related to each other (and how they influence each other. For example: People who dont get enough sleep have a higher chance of failing their driving test.
  • Document yourself. Before you start to set up the experiment, you should research the background. Maybe other researchers already gathered some data you can use.
  • Pick the preferred design. The three major designs are pre-experimental designs , quasi-experimental designs and true experimental designs.
  • You May Like: What Does Mixture Mean In Chemistry

    List Of Psychological Research Methods

    A wide range of research methods are used in psychology. These methods vary by the sources from which information is obtained, how that information is sampled, and the types of instruments that are used in data collection. Methods also vary by whether they collect qualitative data, quantitative data or both.

    Qualitative psychological research is where the research findings are not arrived at by statistical or other quantitative procedures. Quantitative psychological research is where the research findings result from mathematical modeling and statistical estimation or statistical inference. Since qualitative information can be handled as such statistically, the distinction relates to method, rather than the topic studied.

    There are three main types of psychological research:

    More articles

    Popular Articles