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Research Methods in Psychology

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Introduces the role and nature of research and research methods in psychological science.

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Research Methods in Psychology

  1. 1. An Introduction to Research Methods in Psychology James Neill (2010) Centre for Applied Psychology University of Canberra
  2. 2. Outline <ul><li>Introduction
  3. 3. What is research?
  4. 4. Quick Fun Survey
  5. 5. Research process
  6. 6. Research methods
  7. 7. Bias in research
  8. 8. Ethical issues </li></ul>
  9. 9. Reading Research methods in psychology (Gerrig et al. 2008, Ch. 2)
  10. 10. disciplined inquiry What is research?
  11. 11. What is research?
  12. 12. What is research? Research is formalised curiosity . It is poking and prying with a purpose. - Zora Neale Hurston
  13. 13. <ul><li>Research is a a systematic attempt to understand the world .
  14. 14. Psychological research is a systematic attempt to understand human experiences of themselves and the world . </li></ul>What is psychological research?
  15. 15. <ul><li>Systematic development & testing of theory about human behaviour and mental events
  16. 16. Disciplined enquiry into human thinking, feeling, and behaviour . </li></ul>What is psychological research?
  17. 17. Research is a language <ul><li>Learn key terms / concepts
  18. 18. UG study, especially 1st year, is about acquiring the language skills to access and make sense of recorded research knowledge </li></ul>
  19. 19. Psychological research ...holds out the promise of discovering the architecture of our psyche and understanding our behaviour in the world around us.
  20. 20. Psychological research is a recent phenomenon <ul><li>Western, scientific, psychological research only has about a 60-100 year history.
  21. 21. Much still to be discovered - prospects for considerable growth & opportunity. </li><ul><li>e.g., due to technology, new research techniques and directions are becoming available. </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. <ul><li>Observations, beliefs, information, and general knowledge lead to a new idea or a different way of thinking about some phenomenon
  23. 23. Theory: An organised set of concepts that explains a phenomenon or set of phenomena.
  24. 24. Use theory to formulate research questions. </li></ul>Process of research
  25. 25. <ul><li>Develop a hypothesis or hypotheses </li><ul><ul><li>A tentative and testable explanation(s) of the relationship between two (or more) events or variables </li></ul></ul><li>Use the scientific method to design the study </li></ul>Process of research
  26. 26. <ul><li>Initial observation or question
  27. 27. Form a hypothesis
  28. 28. Design the study
  29. 29. Analyse the data and draw conclusions
  30. 30. Report the findings
  31. 31. Consider open questions
  32. 32. Act on open questions </li></ul>The research process Gerrig et al. (2008)
  33. 33. Quick Fun Survey <ul><li>What is your favourite colour?
  34. 34. What is your favourite number?
  35. 35. What sex is the number 4?
  36. 36. What sex is the number 8? </li></ul>
  37. 37. Design Your Own Psychological Study
  38. 38. Research questions Expressing topics of interest as research questions is a key first step, e.g., <ul><li>Is it bad to smack your children?
  39. 39. What is the effect of meditation on stress?
  40. 40. Do “smart drugs” really make people “smarter”? </li></ul>
  41. 41. My first study What changes in stress, anxiety, crisis and flow occur for novice abseilers?
  42. 42. Design your own study <ul><li>List topics you would like to research.
  43. 43. Create research questions & choose one.
  44. 44. What variables are to be measured?
  45. 45. What research method would you use?
  46. 46. What population and sampling method would you use? </li></ul>
  47. 47. Student research opportunities <ul><li>Research participation
  48. 48. Research seminars
  49. 49. Research news e.g., via </li><ul><li>Journal alerts
  50. 50. Google Alerts </li></ul><li>Research journals </li><ul><li>Hard copies
  51. 51. Electronic copies </li></ul></ul>
  52. 52. Scientific method
  53. 53. Research is a way of thinking <ul><li>Researchers need to acknowledge & understand the limits of intuition & common sense
  54. 54. Philosophy of science
  55. 55. The scientific attitude
  56. 56. The scientific method </li></ul>
  57. 57. Science is based on… <ul><li>Knowledge of facts
  58. 58. Developing theories
  59. 59. Testing hypotheses
  60. 60. Public and repeatable procedures </li></ul>
  61. 61. If you are a scientist you believe that it is good to find out how the world works, that it is good to find out what the realities are, that it is good to turn over to mankind at large the greatest possible power to control the world... It is not possible to be a scientist unless you believe that the knowledge of the world, and the power which this gives, is a thing which is of intrinsic value to humanity, and that you are using it to help in the spread of knowledge, and are willing to take the consequences. - J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967)
  62. 63. Critical thinking Critical thinking does not blindly accept arguments and conclusions: <ul><li>Examines assumptions
  63. 64. Discerns hidden values
  64. 65. Evaluates evidence </li></ul>
  65. 66. It is a good morning exercise for a research scientist to discard a pet hypothesis every day before breakfast - It keeps him [sic] young. - Konrad Lorenz
  66. 67. <ul><li>Set of procedures used for gathering and interpreting objective information in a way that minimises error and yields dependable generalisations .
  67. 68. Its goal is to draw conclusions with maximum objectivity . </li><ul><li>Conclusions are objective when they are not influenced by emotions or personal biases . </li></ul></ul>Scientific method
  68. 69. The doctrine that all events - physical, behavioural, and mental - are “determined” by specific causal factors that are potentially knowable . Concept of determinism
  69. 70. Theory-testing is the main function of research <ul><li>Observations lead to theory
  70. 71. Theory = a specific set of assumptions and principles about a phenomenon.
  71. 72. Derive testable hypotheses (or guesses / predictions)
  72. 73. Systematically test hypotheses in various conditions in order to determine the utility of the theory . </li></ul>
  73. 74. Theories, hypotheses & research observations Theories Low self-esteem feeds depression Hypothesis People with low self-esteem score higher on a depression scale Test with observations Administer tests of self-esteem and depression. See if a low score on one predicts a high score on the other.
  74. 75. Operationalisation Refers to how a fuzzy psychological construct is actually measured <ul><li>e.g., the concept of intelligence has been operationalised through a variety of Intelligence Quotient (IQ) tests </li></ul>
  75. 76. <ul><li>Variables are factors which can be controlled and/or measured in research
  76. 77. Two types: </li><ul><ul><li>Independent Variable (IV) (or “predictors”)
  77. 78. Dependent Variable (DV) (or “outcomes”) </li></ul></ul></ul>Research variables
  78. 79. Independent vs. dependent variables Independent Variable(s) Dependent Variable(s)
  79. 80. Independent vs. dependent variables Independent Variable <ul><li>the factor that is controlled and manipulated by the researcher
  80. 81. the variable whose effect is being studied </li></ul>Dependent Variable <ul><li>the factor that may change in response to manipulations of the independent variable
  81. 82. in psychology it is usually a behaviour or mental process </li></ul>
  82. 83. Independent vs. dependent variables: Example IV: Graffiti or no graffiti on or near a letterbox DV: Whether or not a passerby takes an envelope with money clearly showing from a letterbox Results: <ul><li>Graffiti condition: 27% took the $
  83. 84. No graffiti condition: 13% took the $ </li></ul>
  84. 85. Reliability <ul><li>Degree to which a test produces similar scores each time it is used
  85. 86. Stability, consistency </li></ul>Validity <ul><li>Extent to which a test measures what it was intended to test </li></ul>Reliability and validity
  86. 87. <ul><li>Distortion of evidence because of the personal motives and expectations of the viewer
  87. 88. Counter by: </li><ul><li>Standardisation: A set of uniform procedures for treating each participant
  88. 89. Operational definition: Define constructs in terms of the specific operation or procedure used to determine its presence </li><ul><li>All variables in a research study must be given operational definitions </li></ul></ul></ul>Observer bias
  89. 90. Psychological research methods
  90. 91. <ul><li>Experimental – randomised sampling
  91. 92. Quasi-experimental – natural sampling
  92. 93. Non-experimental – cross-sectional sampling </li></ul>Psychological research methods
  93. 94. Experimental research method <ul><li>Experimenter manipulates the IVs, then measures the results on the DVs
  94. 95. Random assignment </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Control group = treat same as experimental group except for the IV manipulation
  95. 96. Experimental group = treat same as control group except for the IV manipulation
  96. 97. Resulting differences are concluded to be due to the IV </li></ul></ul>
  97. 98. <ul><li>Alternative explanations to research can result from </li><ul><ul><li>Confounding variables
  98. 99. Expectancy effects </li><ul><li>Placebo effect </li></ul></ul></ul><li>The more alternative explanations for a given result, the less confidence there is for an initial hypothesis </li></ul>Experimental research method
  99. 100. <ul><li>A variable other than what the experimenter purposely introduced that affects a participant’s behaviour </li><ul><li>e.g., Hawthorne effect </li></ul><li>Confounding variables add confusion and place the interpretation of the data at risk </li></ul>Confounding variable
  100. 101. <ul><li>Results that occur when a researcher or observer subtly communicates to the participants the kind of behaviour he or she expects, therefore, creating the expected reaction and/or outcome </li><ul><li>e.g., encouraging some kinds of responses in interviews </li></ul></ul>Expectancy effect
  101. 102. Occurs when the experimental participants change their behaviour in the absence of any kind of experimental manipulation. Placebo effect
  102. 103. Consistent procedures for giving instructions, responses, and holding all other variables constant except those being systematically varied <ul><li>Placebo control
  103. 104. Double-blind control
  104. 105. Between-subjects designs
  105. 106. Within-subjects designs </li></ul>Control procedures
  106. 107. <ul><li>The inclusion of an experimental condition in which the treatment is not administered
  107. 108. e.g., real pills vs. placebo pills </li></ul>Placebo control
  108. 109. <ul><li>Experimental procedure in which both the experimenter and the subject are unaware as to who received the treatment
  109. 110. Seen as the strongest way of controlling for experimenter and expectancy biases </li></ul>Double-blind control
  110. 111. <ul><li>Between-subjects Design </li><ul><li>Different groups of participants are randomly assigned to experimental conditions or to control condition </li></ul><li>Within-subjects Design </li><ul><li>Each participant is his or her own control </li></ul></ul>Between-subjects vs. within-subects design
  111. 112. Ways of gathering psychological data
  112. 113. <ul><li>Qualitative – words, pictures
  113. 114. Quantitative – numbers
  114. 115. Mixed - words and numbers </li></ul>Qualitative vs. quantitative research data
  115. 116. Qualitative research Subjective - individuals’ interpretation of events is important e.g., <ul><li>Historical accounts
  116. 117. Participant observation
  117. 118. In-depth interviews </li></ul>
  118. 119. Quantitative research Objective – seeks precise measurement & analysis of target concepts e.g., <ul><li>Psychological tests
  119. 120. Questionnaires
  120. 121. Physiological measures </li></ul>
  121. 122. Mixed methods Involves a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods.
  122. 123. <ul><li>Archival
  123. 124. Observations
  124. 125. Behavioural
  125. 126. Self-report surveys </li><ul><li>Mail
  126. 127. Interviews
  127. 128. Online </li></ul></ul>Research methods <ul><li>Physiological
  128. 129. Experiential sampling </li><ul><li>e.g., with palm pilots </li></ul><li>Archival records </li></ul>
  129. 130. <ul><li>Information taken from existing records </li><ul><ul><li>Examples include birth and death records, weather reports, voting patterns, and attendance figures </li></ul></ul></ul>Archival data
  130. 131. Observational research Researchers directly observe and record behaviour: <ul><li>Naturalistic observation - researcher records behavior as it occurs naturally
  131. 132. Tests - researcher presents stimuli or problems and records responses </li></ul>
  132. 133. Naturalistic observation <ul><ul><li>Naturally occurring behaviour is viewed and recorded without attempting to manipulate or interfere the situation.
  133. 134. Field-rich data, time consuming, difficult to generalise. </li></ul></ul>
  134. 135. Behavioural measures <ul><li>Overt actions and reactions that are observed and recorded
  135. 136. Direct observations </li><ul><ul><li>The behaviour is clearly visible and is easily recorded
  136. 137. Can be aided by technology </li></ul></ul></ul>
  137. 138. Self-report research <ul><li>Behaviour identified through a participant’s own observations and reports
  138. 139. People rate or describe their behaviour, opinion, or mental state e.g., via: </li><ul><li>Questionnaires
  139. 140. Rating scales e.g., </li><ul><li>from 1 to 7 rate your opinion of … </li></ul></ul></ul>
  140. 141. <ul><li>Determines extent to which two variables are related
  141. 142. Correlational Coefficient ( r ) </li><ul><li>Indicates the degree of relationship between two variables
  142. 143. Values of: </li></ul></ul>- 1.0 = perfect negative correlation 0.0 = no correlation +1.0 = perfect positive correlation Correlational methods
  143. 144. <ul><li>Positive and negative correlations </li></ul>Correlational methods
  144. 145. Causal relationships and correlations <ul><li>Correlation does not equal causation
  145. 146. How can causality be demonstrated? e.g. </li><ul><li>Experimentally (explanatory)
  146. 147. Predictive, longitudinal studies </li></ul></ul>
  147. 148. Correlation vs. causation
  148. 149. Laboratory research <ul><li>Purpose-designed research setting
  149. 150. Provides uniform conditions for all participants
  150. 151. Permits elimination of irrelevant factors
  151. 152. May seem artificial </li></ul>
  152. 153. Case study <ul><li>Intensive observation of a particular individual or a small group.
  153. 154. Aims to reveal things true of all.
  154. 155. Rich data, time consuming, difficult to generalise. </li></ul>Is language uniquely human?
  155. 156. <ul><li>Iron rod through head (frontal lobes)
  156. 157. Affected personality and behaviour
  157. 158. Suggested function localisation </li></ul>Case study example: Phineas Gage
  158. 159. Survey research <ul><li>Commonly used
  159. 160. Ascertains self-reported attitudes or behaviors of people
  160. 161. Ideally question a representative, random sample of people </li></ul>
  161. 162. Experiential sampling
  162. 163. Replication <ul><li>Reconducting a previous study to see whether its findings are repeatable (reliable).
  163. 164. Nothing is generally “proven” until at least several studies have been conducted showing similar results.
  164. 165. Usually replicate with different participants, in different situations, in different cultures. </li></ul>
  165. 166. Sampling Sampling
  166. 167. <ul><li>Sample : </li><ul><li>Subset of a population selected as participants in an experiment </li></ul><li>Representation Sample : </li><ul><li>A subset of the population being studied </li></ul><li>Population : </li><ul><li>Entire set of individuals to which generalisations will be made based on an experimental sample </li></ul></ul>Sampling
  167. 168. Ethical issues in research Guidelines and procedures for conducting ethical psychological research
  168. 169. History of research ethics <ul><li>Nuremberg code (1948): </li><ul><li>voluntary consent is essential
  169. 170. benefits of research must outweigh the risks. </li></ul><li>Thalidomide (late 1950's-early 1960's)
  170. 171. Tuskegee Syphilis Study (1932-1972).
  171. 172. Declaration of Helinski (1964) </li></ul>
  172. 173. Ethical issues in psychological research <ul><li>Right to privacy
  173. 174. Informed consent </li><ul><li>use of deception </li></ul><li>Animal rights </li><ul><li>Is there justification for discomfort or harm a research procedure may produce? </li></ul><li>APA publishes ethical guidelines </li></ul>
  174. 175. <ul><li>Research participants are asked to sign statements indicating they have been informed as to the potential risks and benefits of the study and consent to participate. </li></ul>Informed consent
  175. 176. <ul><li>Risks to the participants must be minimised, especially in studies of more personal aspects of behaviour.
  176. 177. And there must be likely gains which outweigh the risks/costs. </li></ul>Risk/gain assessment
  177. 178. For some research it is not possible to tell participants the intention of the study without biasing the results <ul><li>Australian Psychological Society (2007) Code of Ethics has explicit guidelines
  178. 179. National Health and Medical Research Council (NH-MRC) has further restrictions </li></ul>Intentional deception
  179. 180. <ul><li>At the end of all studies each participant must be provided with as much information about the study as possible in age-appropriate style. </li></ul>Debriefing
  180. 181. Summary <ul><li>Research is formalised curiousity
  181. 182. Discover your research passions & follow them  </li></ul><ul><li>Develop research questions, theory, and hypotheses – then test scientifically. </li></ul><ul><li>Maintain objectivity
  182. 183. “ Failed” research can often tells us as much as “successful” research. </li></ul>
  183. 184. Summary <ul><li>IVs = predictors; DVs = outcomes
  184. 185. Biases: observer, participants; use standardisation and controls
  185. 186. Ways of gathering data: Quantitative, qualitative, mixed
  186. 187. Research methods: Archival, Lab research, Survey, Observation, Case study
  187. 188. Ethics: Consent, privacy, risk etc. </li></ul>
  188. 189. References <ul><li>Gerrig, R. J., Zimbardo, P. G., Campbell, A. J., Cumming, S. R., & Wilkes, F. J. (2008). Psychology and life (Australian edition.). Sydney: Pearson.
  189. 190. Myers, D. G. (2007). Thinking critically with psychological science (Ch1). In Psychology (8 th ed.) . New York: Worth.
  190. 191. University of Gronigen. People surrounded by grafitti more likely to steal . </li></ul>
  191. 192. Open Office Impress <ul><li>This presentation was made using Open Office Impress.
  192. 193. Free and open source software.
  193. 194. http://www.openoffice.org/product/impress.html </li></ul>
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Introduces the role and nature of research and research methods in psychological science.


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