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Research Methods

In Psychology
Mrs. Andrews

The scientific study of

behavior and mental
Goals of Psychology
1. Describe

2. Predict
Behavior and mental
3. Explain

4. Control
Research Methods
Research methods that yield
descriptions rather than
explanations… they do NOT
explain WHY
Naturalistic Observation
Researchers observe and record subjects
in their natural setting

Advantages: natural setting, subject’s

behavior is natural, spontaneous
*can provide a great hypothesis

Disadvantages: presence of a researcher

could impact behavior, observer bias
Case Study
Researchers observe and record one or a
few participants in depth
Advantages: get to know subjects well and
can observe them in unusual situations
*can provide a great hypothesis
Disadvantages: findings may not be
applicable to the whole population, can be
time consuming, expensive and observer
Correlational Research
A statistical method used to examine the
relationship between two or more
Advantages: allows for prediction of

Disadvantages: because two things vary

together does NOT mean that one causes
the other
Correlational Research
A positive correlation means when one
variable increases or decreases the other
variable increases or decreases

Correlational Research
A negative correlation means when one
variable increases the other variable
Survey Research
Using interviews and or questionnaires to gather
information about aptitudes, beliefs, experiences or
Advantages: can gather lots of information quickly and

• sampling biases skew results
• Poorly constructed questions result in ambiguous
• Accuracy depends on the willingness of subjects to
answer honestly and accurately (people may lie)
Survey Research
Key Terms
• Population: the entire group of interest to
researcher- from which the sample is chosen
• Sample: The portion of any population
selected to study from which generalizations
are made about the population
• Representative Sample: A sample selected
from the larger population that is
representative of the population as a whole
Experimental Method
Method where researchers randomly
assign participants to groups and
control all variables except for one
which is manipulated to see if it has
an impact on another variable

*Only type of research that can explain

behavior (or prove cause and effect)
Experimental Method
Key Terms
• Independent Variable: the variable
researchers manipulate to determine its
effect on another variable
• Dependent Variable: the variable
measured at the end of an experiment to
see if it changed as a result of manipulating
the independent variable
Experimental Method
Key Terms
• Experimental group: in the experiment the
group that is exposed to the independent
variable or treatment
• Control group: A group that is similar to
the experimental group, but is NOT
exposed to the independent variable or
Problems With
• Selection bias: differences between the control and
experimental groups are present from the beginning
• Random Assignment: Assigning participants by
• Placebo Effect: When a participant “feels” the effect
of the independent variable without being exposed
• Experimenter Bias: When researcher’s
preconceived ideas influence the participants
behavior and or the interpretation
• Double blind technique: Participant and
experimenter do not know who is in the
experimental group
Experimental Method
Advantages: reveals cause and effect

• Differences may already exist- (between control
& experimental)
• Really hard to control ALL variables
• Lab setting may inhibit natural behavior
• Findings may not generalize to the real world
• Potential for unethical experiments
• To review this material- look in
your book pages 30-37

• Homework: Read pages 37-40

(on Ethics and Psychological
Research) and take notes!