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Research Methods in Psychology

A summary of the research methods and statistical analysis used in psychology
by

Gerald Carey

on 16 March 2013

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Transcript of Research Methods in Psychology

in Psychology Research Methods Sample and Population Making sense of research Experiments Experimental Analysis Self-reporting methods Making sense of research Qualitative Observation and observational methods Quantitative Research Data can also be collected by Experiments Factors that influence outcomes of An example: Harlow's experiment on attachment in monkeys Descriptive Statistics Making sense of research Using graphs Distribution and variability Psychologists want data and information that is: Data is collected from large or small groups or populations of people (or animals) Example populations: All people in Australia All students at Gleeson College All drivers who are 17-25 All people who watch TV between 8:30-9:30pm But it is often expensive and time consuming to collect data from the whole population - so we choose a sample The people or animals in the sample group should be chosen at random and should represent a wide range of people or animals in the population Example samples of the previous populations: 200 people chosen at random from anywhere in Australia Drivers who are 17-25 who park their car at Tea Tree Plaza All people who watch TV in every fifth house of every fifth street in Greenwith. Five students selected from each homeroom at Gleeson Do activity 2.1 p 31 accurate (i.e. relevant and related to the area under study) reliable (i.e. consistently produce the same results) is ethical (i.e. the process used to collect data does not harm the participants) Psychologists want data and information that is: Psychologists want data and information that is: Psychologists want data and information that is: Summary - watch the first 2 minutes Collection of numerical data e.g. count of dog's tail wags heart beats when under stress Intelligence test scores collection of data by observation by experimentation by survey Collection of non-numerical data Gather data to help understand and give reasons for behaviours Questions might include: what, when and where. e.g. interview people after an accident observe child behaviour with strangers Questions might include: why and how. Do Activity 2.1 Q2 & 3 page 35 Quantitative methods involve the... Qualitative methods involve the... Read more on pages 33-4 Objective data and Subjective data Measurement of participant's behaviour that can be observed and verified by the researcher Personal description of participant's own behaviour based on their experiences and feelings. More information on page 35-6 "Observation" includes any examination of an observable event. Observations can include Scores Values Written responses Spoken responses Observations in psychology should be done systematically using set procedures Psychological research involves the which look at how to observe behaviour and can be divided into Quantitative observational methods Qualitative observational investigations Ways to observe behaviour include: Naturalistic observation Non-participant observation Participant observation Behaviour is observed by the researcher without the participants knowing of their presence. Behaviour is observed by the researcher with the participants knowing of their presence but are not involved in the acitivity that causes the behaviour. Behaviour is observed by the researcher with the participants knowing of their presence and the researcher involves themselves in the situation that causes the behaviour. Out of six people how many will return money 'accidently' dropped? Why kind of research method is this? Data Data Advantages Limitations of observational methods of observational methods Allows the possibility of long-term study of behaviour May be the only study method possible because all other methods are unethical The behaviour being studied is more natural and therefore more realistic. It may take a while for the behaviour under study to occur. It is difficult to determine the cause of behaviour in natural settings. Some behaviours may be missed by the researcher or regarded as irrelevant. Summary of Advantages/Disadvantages Very dry! Experiments are used to Test to see if one variable can influence or cause a change in another variable Does talking to friends reduce reaction time when driving? Experiments can be done in the Laboratory Field Conditions can be controlled ie less variables Behaviour viewed is more natural Dependent Independent Variable: something that changes in amount or kind over time or some difference between people or groups of people Variable chosen or changed by the experimenter Variable that is used to measure the effect of the independent variable. More information on page 40
Do Learning activity 2.6, p 41 When testing the effects of the Independent variable, participants can be placed into two groups: Experimental Control Participants subjected to conditions where the IV is changed Participants subjected to the same conditions as the experimental group but the IV is absent Randomly assigned Results Results Is there a difference between the two groups? Yes No Conclusion The IV may affect the DV The IV may NOT affect the DV For example does Advanced Driver Training lead to less accidents for 17-25 year olds Experimental Control Fifteen 17-25 year olds are given 20 hours of advanced driver training Randomly assigned Results Results Is there a difference between the two groups? Yes No Conclusion The Advanced Driver Training may reduce accidents in this age group Fifteen other 17-25 year olds are given no advanced training The Advanced Driver Training may NOT reduce accidents in this age group Go here for more examples: http://www.lhup.edu/sboland/independent_and_dependent_variab.htm

Try them first before scrolling down to see the answers! Many factors may influence the results of an experiment. These factors (or extraneous variables) should be identified before the experiment begins. Participant variables Situational variables Experimenter effects For example: Gender Personality Cultural background Level of education The placebo effect The importance of 'blinding' the participants For example: Time of day Day in the week Season Climate Noise Try activity 2.11 p 46 Try activity 2.10 p 45 For example: Mood of the experimenter Gender and attractiveness of the experimenter Experimenter bias Importance of the double-blind test Try activity 2.12 p 47 Read through Harlow's experiments on page 47 Which were the experimental and control groups? What are some examples of the participant, situational and experimenter effect variables in the experiment? What was the difference between what was written for the Results, Conclusion and Generalisation parts of the report? Results: summarise the key information collected during the experiment. Conclusion: a judgement on what the results might mean for the participants. Generalisation: what the results might mean for the population under study. Questionnaires, surveys and interviews Rating scales Likert scale Focus groups Delphi techniques Advantages Disadvantages Advantages Disadvantages Able to see a cause/effect process more easily Able to repeat the process more easily Other experimenters can more easily replicate the experiment This helps confirm the reliability of the results Laboratories are artificial and may not reflect what happens in the real world. Somethings cannot be reproduced in the lab. Experiments Used to obtain information about thoughts and feelings Four common self-reporting techniques in Psychology Assumes participants are honest and can accurately recall information in a detailed manner. Self-reporting List of questions Questionnaire used with a small sample of population Questionnaire may be used one-on-one with a number of individuals Can collect lots of data Researcher is not confined to the list of questions People are given a scale to rate their response Scale gives measures the direction of an attitude A process used to collect information from experts on a topic. Do activity 2.16 p 53 More details from page 54-5 The term focus group is used to refer to a group interview technique that obtains data through discussion between research participants in a group setting. Self-reporting techniques Self-reporting techniques Self-reporting techniques Self-reporting techniques Focus group about cars Rating scales and fixed question surveys are easy to complete and analyse They can give information that has richness and depth. Prone to errors of recall, participant and researcher bias and difficulty in the classification of answers. Cannot adequately determine cause and effect for a behaviour. May be limited to adults that may speak and write confidently Self-reporting methods Data is usually collected from a random sample of a population.
What is the difference? The participants response is influenced by how they are expected to behave rather than how they would respond naturally. For example, a patient in pain who asks for pain relief might expect that the medicine they are given is to relieve their pain and will respond to that. Because of the placebo effect, patients should not know if they are in the experimental or control groups. However, it could be that all they were given was sugar pills! It is important that the patient/subject AND the researcher not know if they are in the experimental or control groups Interesting summary of the power of the placebo effect. Measures of central tendency Graphical representation of data Mean Median Line graphs Frequency distribution Bar graph Histogram Normal distribution Skewed distribution Variability Standard deviation Range If a lot of quantitative data is collected from a big sample, it is useful to find the average to get an idea of what is 'typical' for that sample/population. For example, the average height of Reception children is much smaller than Year 11 students. We can use this information to help us design desks and chairs that suit the average Reception or Year 11 student. Receptions Year 11s How do we work out what is 'typical' for each population? Add up all the measurements/scores and divide by the number of scores (data) If you are struggling with this, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has a good introductory page here: http://www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/a3121120.nsf/home/statistical+language+-+measures+of+central+tendency How would you calculate the 'mean' per capita (per person) consumption of beer drunk over the time period 2006-11? When is the best time to use 'mean'? when scores cluster around a central score Arrange scores from highest to lowest.
The median is the middle value. Example scores in a maths test:
13, 35, 17,19, 23, 24, 31 Arranged in order:
13, 17, 19, 23, 24, 31, 35 Median Value When is the best time to use 'median' When the data is skewed or has outliers In this example the median is a better indicator of what is 'typical' in this data. Do Learning Activity 2.18, p 59
Q 1 and 2.
You heard right! Height of students Show a relationship between two variables - usually the independent and dependent variables This example shows how the minimum wage per hour has changed from 1930 to 2000. This is most useful when the data is continuous (as opposed to discrete or categorical data) Display information to show how often (frequency) a value or score occurs. This information can then be displayed as a... A way of displaying discrete information in a series of bars (or columns) on a graph that do not touch. Population Bar graphs are useful when the data to be displayed is discrete and in categories. A way of displaying continuous information in a series of bars (or columns) on a graph that touch. Histograms are useful when the data to be displayed is continuous. Use Excel to graph the data in Learning Activity 2.21 When graphed, data can show patterns. The pattern on the left is an example of a normal distribution (represented by the solid line) of the height of female students in a class. This ideal is rarely achieved. Positively skewed Negatively skewed Large cluster of low scores Large cluster of high scores Do Learning Activity 2.26 on page 66.
Use Excel to table and graph the data. Mean and Median are good ways to find 'typical' or 'average' data but sometimes we need more than this. We might need to know much our data deviates from 'normal' or 'average'. We can use two measures... Also called: 'variation', 'scatter' or 'spread' of data. Find the mean of these two sets of data A: 4, 5, 5, 5, 6, 6, 6, 7, 7, 7, and 8. B: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 The mean of both data sets is 6. Clearly there are differences in the two sets of data. A: 4, 5, 5, 5, 6, 6, 6, 7, 7, 7, and 8. B: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 The Range is calculated by taking the lowest value away from the highest. Range for A = 8 - 4 = 4 Range for B = 11 - 1 = 10 Clearly Group B has a wider range or scatter of data than Group A You can also see this in the column graph of the data Also is a measure of the spread or scatter of data from the mean in particular Here is the formula for calculating standard deviation Sum of Individual data value the mean Total number of data values Standard deviation Fortunately, you don't need to know how to calculate standard deviation for this course! Try Learning Activity 2.28 p 67 Revision:
Introduction to Psychology
Page 27, Q 1-12 are all good. You might struggle with question 9 and 10.
Page 28, Q 1-3 are good short answer questions.
Page 28 Extended response questions 1 and 2 could be useful.
Psychological Methods
Page 77, Q 1- 13 (although Q3 won't make too much sense.
Page 78 Q 1-10 are good short answer questions.
Page 78-9, Any question would be useful to help with the essay style question you might get. Nice summary Information based on the textbook: "Introduction to Psychology Stage 1 South Australia" by Linda Carter and John Grivas. The 'typical' 6 year old is about 115 cm tall The 'typical' 16 year old is about 172cm tall Reception chairs Year 11 student chairs!
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