Research Methods
Activity Booklet (2)
Topics include:
Methods and Techniques
Investigation Design
Data Analysis and Presen...
The Specification
The aim of this booklet is to provide you with practical activities to enhance your understanding of res...
Investigation Design
Aim 1 IV ___________________ Aim 1 DV __________________
Aim 2 IV ___________________ Aim 2 DV __________________
Aim 3 IV...
Operationalising Variables:
It is very important to operationalise the variables to be studied, otherwise the
researcher w...
Extraneous Variables:
What is an extraneous variable and why is it important to control for them?
Identify the extraneous ...
Two tailed (non-directional)
A directional hypothesis states which direction the results will go in and
usually contains t...
Task: Cut out paper men to identify repeated measures, independent groups and matched
pairs design!
Now fill in the table ...
3) A researcher enrolled 20 participants into their experiment. All participants
completed a musical task and then a writt...
Observations
Non-experimental methods
Like with the correlations we looked at last week, observations are a
non experiment...
Depending on the method of observation used (see below) the researcher may collect
qualitative data, quantitative data or ...
Overt or covert?
_________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________...
 Time sampling: recording data at particular intervals. For example,
what is an individual doing every 30 seconds?
An exa...
Evaluation of Observations
Validity of observations
 Observations tend to have ___________ ecological validity, as they i...
Dealing with validity in observations
A researcher can assess the validity of his observations by conducting further
obser...
Homework tasks
1: The school wants to know what kind of study behaviour the library is being used
for. To investigate this...
(b) Identify one issue of reliability in this research, and describe how you could deal with it. [3]
One issue of reliabil...
When assessing the reliability of a study, we generally need to ask two questions
1) Can the study be replicated?
2) If so...
measure the length of a book on Monday, and your ruler tells you its 25 cm long, it will
still tell you its 25cm long on F...
VALIDITY
A study may be high in reliability, but the results may still be meaningless if we
don’t have validity. Validity ...
Generalisability
The aim of psychological research is to produce results which can then be generalised
beyond the setting ...
TYPES OF VALIDITY
Experimental Validity: is the study really measuring what it
intends?
INTERNAL VALIDITY refers to things...
experimenter bias which supports the hypothesis.
Demand characteristics: participants
are often searching for cues as to
h...
TASKS
A. A researcher wants to test whether people’s memories are better in the evening
or in the morning. He gives a grou...
Name any extraneous variables that could have altered the DV?
How could these EVs have been controlled?
EXTERNAL VALIDITY
...
Population validity refers to how well the ____________________ used
in the experiment represent the general population. M...
Content
Validity
Does the method used actually seem to measure what you intended? For example,
does an IQ test actually me...
TASKS
C. A researcher is looking into the effect of alcohol consumption on self esteem. He
develops a questionnaire to ass...
Improving Validity - Pilot Studies:
Designing a pilot study is often one of the best ways to check that everything in your...
ETHICAL GUIDELINES IN PSYCHOLOGICAL RESEARCH
There are probably more major ethical issues in Psychology than in any other ...
Harm to participants
Participants should not be harmed, either physically or psychologically when
participating in researc...
Ethical Issues:
In a very controversial experiment, Phillip Zimbardo broke the majority of ethical guidelines
set out by t...
Questioning Ethics:
1) What is the purpose of ethical guidelines?
2) Why are they important to follow?
3) When can researc...
Consent: Have the subjects of the study made an informed consent to take part?
Deception: have the subjects been deceived?...
In the group, pretend this was a psychological study. Discuss the costs and the
benefits of the study and make an assessme...
End of section assessment questions:
1) What is a directional hypothesis?
2) Is the independent variable in an experiment ...
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  1. 1. Research Methods Activity Booklet (2) Topics include: Methods and Techniques Investigation Design Data Analysis and Presentation Name:
  2. 2. The Specification The aim of this booklet is to provide you with practical activities to enhance your understanding of research methods in psychology. Once completed it will provide a valuable revision tool…so take care of it!! Methods and techniques Candidates will be expected to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the following research methods, their advantages and weaknesses: Experimental method, including laboratory, field and natural experiments. Studies using correlational analysis. Observational techniques. Self report techniques including questionnaire and interview. Case studies. Investigation design Candidates should be familiar with the following features of investigation design: Aims. Hypothesis, including directional and non-directional. Experimental design (independent groups, repeated measures and matched pairs). Design of naturalistic observations, including the development and use of behavioural categories. Design of questionnaires and interviews. Operationalisation of variables, including independent and dependent variables. Pilot studies. Control of extraneous variables. Reliability and validity. Awareness of the British Psychological Society (BPS) Code of Ethics. Selection of participants and sampling techniques, including random, opportunity and volunteer sampling. Demand characteristics and investigator effects. Data analysis and presentation Candidates should be familiar with the following features of data analysis, presentation and interpretation: Presentation and interpretation of quantitative data including graphs, scattergrams and tables. Analysis and interpretation of quantitative data. Measures of central tendency including median, mean, mode. Measures of dispersion including ranges and standard deviation. Analysis and interpretation of correlational data. Positive and negative correlations and the interpretation of correlation coefficients. Presentation of qualitative data. Processes involved in content analysis.
  3. 3. Investigation Design
  4. 4. Aim 1 IV ___________________ Aim 1 DV __________________ Aim 2 IV ___________________ Aim 2 DV __________________ Aim 3 IV ___________________ Aim 3 DV __________________ Investigation Design Creating Aims and Hypotheses: What is an aim? What about a hypothesis? Aims are normally very straight forward. For example, what might the aim be for the following research questions? 1. Does background noise affect memory? 2. Do students who revise perform better in AS exams? 3. Are blondes really dumb? An aim of a study should include both the thing being manipulated (independent variable) and the thing being measured (dependent variable). What might the IV and DV be for the above aims?
  5. 5. Operationalising Variables: It is very important to operationalise the variables to be studied, otherwise the researcher will not know what they are looking for and this can reduce the validity and reliability of their data. How might the following variables be operationalised? Speed Memory Aggression
  6. 6. Extraneous Variables: What is an extraneous variable and why is it important to control for them? Identify the extraneous variable in each of the examples below: 1. The researchers were interested in the effects of time of day on memory recall. They put all the young people in the morning condition and all the older people in the evening condition. 2. The researchers were interested in the effects of age on memory recall. They tested all the young people in the morning and all the old people in the evening. 3. Researchers were looking at the effects of noise on concentration. There were two conditions and participants were either in the noisy or quiet condition. When the researchers were conducting the quiet condition the thermostat broke on the radiator and the room was very stuffy and airless. NB: Extraneous variables can also include things such as demand characteristics and investigator effects (more on these later). Hypotheses: There are two different types of hypothesis: One tailed (directional)
  7. 7. Two tailed (non-directional) A directional hypothesis states which direction the results will go in and usually contains the words “there will be…” A non-directional hypothesis is less clear of the direction the results will go in and tends to use the words “there will be a difference…” Write one directional and one non-directional hypothesis below: Directional: Non-Directional: Experimental Design: Once the researcher has chosen the experimental method which best suits the nature of the study, they then have to choose what type of design it will have. The choices are repeated measures, independent groupsand matchedpairs.
  8. 8. Task: Cut out paper men to identify repeated measures, independent groups and matched pairs design! Now fill in the table below: Experimental Design: Strengths Weaknesses Repeated measures: The same PPs are used in both conditions. Independent Groups: PPs are randomly allocated to different groups which represent the different conditions. Matched Pairs: Pairs of PPs are closely matched and are then randomly allocated to one of the experimental conditions. Which design is being used here? 1) Researchers wanted to find out whether a new teaching method could improve verbal reasoning ability in 5 year olds. In one condition the children weretaught the new method and in the other they were taught a traditional method. Each participant in the new method group was matched with a participant from the other condition. 2) Researchers were looking at whether people remembered more in the morning or evening. They gave one set of participants free recall tests in both the morning and evening and compared their results to the control group who only took the test in the morning.
  9. 9. 3) A researcher enrolled 20 participants into their experiment. All participants completed a musical task and then a written task. Their abilities to perform under pressure were compared. Sampling Techniques So you’ve worked out your experimental design…but how are you going to get your participants? These three ways seem to be the most successful… Opportunity Sampling: Volunteer Sampling: Random Sampling:
  10. 10. Observations Non-experimental methods Like with the correlations we looked at last week, observations are a non experimental method of investigation. This means that there is no manipulation of variables, and so observations are not technically classed as experiments. A researcher will simply observe behaviour, and look for patterns. Like all non-experimental methods, in an observation we cannot draw cause and effect relationships. Observations are used in psychological research in one of two ways, a method or a technique. Observations as a research technique: This is when observations are used as part of another research method such as a lab study or a field study. Nearly all research in psychology involves some aspect of observation. For example, how did Ainsworth use observations in her lab study? Which other studies have we looked at where participants’ behaviour was also observed? __________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________ This means that when evaluating any study which uses observational techniques, you can use many of the evaluation points that apply to observational research. Observational research This is where the entire study is an observation. In this handout we will be focusing on this use of observations. For example, going to a playground an observing the behaviour of children. In this example, maybe the researcher is looking to see how many incidents of aggressive behaviour are shown by the children. They might simply observe the children in a playground, and record how many aggressive acts are demonstrated. There is no manipulation of variables, and no conditions. The experimenter has not controlled the environment and the children do not know that they are in a study.
  11. 11. Depending on the method of observation used (see below) the researcher may collect qualitative data, quantitative data or both types. Types of observation There are different sub-types of observation. An observation can be Naturalistic or controlled Structured or unstructured Participant or non- participant Overt or covert These can be combined in many different ways, to create many varieties of observation. For example, you could have a naturalistic, structured, non-participant,covert observation. Naturalistic or controlled? In a naturalistic observation, behaviour is studied in a natural situation where everything has been left as it normally is. In a controlled observation, some variables are controlled by the researcher, reducing the naturalness of the behaviour being studied. Participants are likely to know that they are being observed and the study may take place in a lab. Participant or non-participant? A participant observation is ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ In a participant observation, it may be difficult for the observer to record everything as they have to wait for an opportune moment to write down their observations. However, they may gain a deeper insight into behaviour. A non- participant observation is ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ In a non-participant observation, it is easier to record data and the observer can remain unbiased.
  12. 12. Overt or covert? _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ Structured or unstructured? In an unstructured observation, the researcher will record all relevant behaviour but has no system. This is because the behaviour that is being studied may be unpredictable. An unstructured observation may be the first step in an investigation, and the results may be used to create a coding system for further structured observations. The majority of the data collected in an unstructured observation will therefore be ________________________________. A structured observation is when the researcher has a system that is used to record behaviour. He will use a coding system (see below) to tally the number of times a behaviour occurs, and he will also use various sampling procedures (again, see below) to decide what to observe and when. o Coding system: A coding system is when behaviour is operationalisedby being broken into different categories. For example, when observing infant behaviour a coding system might contain items like ______________________________________________________________ ____________ o Sampling procedures: in a continuous observation, the observer should record every instance of the behaviour being studied. However, in practicality, there would be too much data to record, so therefore there needs to be a systematic method of sampling.  Event sampling: counting each time a particular behaviour is observed
  13. 13.  Time sampling: recording data at particular intervals. For example, what is an individual doing every 30 seconds? An example of a coding system The Facial Action Coding System (FACS) is used for observing facial expressions. Using the FACS, tally each time your partner shows a particular facial movement. What difficulties did you encounter when making your observations? How did you feel when you were being observed? Did you behave any differently? 1 Inner Brow Raiser 26 Jaw Drop 2 Outer Brow Raiser 27 Mouth Stretch 4 Brow Lowerer 28 Lip Suck 5 Upper Lid Raiser 41 Lid droop 6 Cheek Raiser 42 Slit 7 Lid Tightener 43 Eyes Closed 9 Nose Wrinkler 44 Eyebrow Gatherer 10 Upper Lip Raiser 45 Blink 11 Nasolabial Deepener 46 Wink 12 Lip Corner Puller 51 Head Turn Left 13 Sharp Lip Puller 52 Head Turn Right 14 Dimpler 53 Head Up 15 Lip Corner Depressor 54 Head Down 16 Lower Lip Depressor 55 Head Tilt Left 17 Chin Raiser 56 Head Tilt Right 18 Lip Pucker 57 Head Forward 20 Lip Stretcher 58 Head Back 22 Lip Funneler 61 Eyes turn left 23 Lip Tightener 62 Eyes turn right 24 Lip Pressor 63 Eyes up 25 Lips Part 64 Eyes down
  14. 14. Evaluation of Observations Validity of observations  Observations tend to have ___________ ecological validity, as they involve more natural behaviours. Ecological validity is especially high in ________________, ________________ observations where the participants are unaware that they are being observed.  What people say they do is often different from what they actually do. Therefore, observations may be more ______________ than questionnaires for example.  However, ecological validity may be lowered in ________________ observations, as they do not take place in a natural environment. Also, ______________ observations where the participants know that they are being observed can lead to ______________ behaviour from the participants, as can participant observations where the person doing the observing may directly affect the behaviour of those being observed.  Another issue is that depending upon the people being observed, there may be a ___________________, meaning that the sample is not ______________________ of all people, and the results may not be generalisable.  A major issue with observations is the validity of the ______________________ used. For example, some observations might belong in one or more category, or some behaviour may not be codeable, and so are not recorded.  Validity is also affected by the ______________________ of the observer. If the observer has an idea about what he expects to happen, he may record only that data which fits with his theory. This is known as __________________________. For example, a researcher who thinks that boys are more aggressive than girls may over record instances of the boys behaving aggressively and under record when girls are aggressive.  Often, there is little or no control of __________________________________, meaning that something unknown could account for the participant’s behaviour. Reliability of observations  Often, observations can be difficult to __________________, as they take place at a specific place and time.  However, reliability can be _________________ using inter-observer reliability. high covert naturalistic valid controlledovert artificial sample bias representative coding system expectations observer bias extraneous variables replicate assessed
  15. 15. Dealing with validity in observations A researcher can assess the validity of his observations by conducting further observations in different settings with varied people so that the results can be more generalisable. By using more than one observer, observer bias can be reduced. Observer bias can also be reduced by using a double blind technique, where the person doing the observing does not know the aims of the study. The validity of a coding system can be assessedthrough content, construct, concurrent and predictive methods (see handout on “Validity and Reliability” for a full explanation of these various terms) Dealing with reliability in observations In observational research, the issue is that any observations should be consistent. If they are consistent, we would expect two observers to produce exactly the same observations. The extent to which any two or more observers agree is called inter-observer reliability. This is calculated by correlating the observations of two or more observers. Generally, if there is more than 80% agreement between the observers, the data has inter-observer reliability. Reliability can also be increased by training the observers in the use of a coding system through practice. What ethical issues can be raised by the use of observations?
  16. 16. Homework tasks 1: The school wants to know what kind of study behaviour the library is being used for. To investigate this they install CCTV cameras in the library to video the students during study breaks and at lunchtime. The researcher watches the TV screens and marks down behaviour on a pre-set coding scheme every time he sees a behaviour. Delete as appropriate (This is not an exam style question) This experiment is naturalistic/controlled,structured/unstructured,participant/non-participant, and overt/covert. [4] The following are exam style questions. (a) Identify one advantage and one disadvantage of using an observation in this study. [3] (b) Identify one issue of reliability in this research, and describe how you could deal with it. [3] (c) Identify one issue of validity in this research, and describe how you could deal with it. [3] (e) Discuss one ethical issue that may arise in this research. [3] Example The following is an example to show you how to answer these types of research method questions. 2: A researcher wants to observe the aggression levels of players during a college under 18’s rugby match. To investigate this, the researcher disguised himself as a rugby player and played for one of the sides while observing the aggressive interactions during the match. During breaks in play, at half time and following the match the investigator tallied the number of aggressive events on a pre-made checklist. This experiment is naturalistic/controlled,structured/unstructured,participant/non-participant, and overt/covert. [4] (a) Identify one advantage and one disadvantage of using an observation in this study. [3] An advantage of using an observation in this study is that the behaviour shown by the rugby players is likely to be more valid, as they are unaware that they are in a study. Therefore there is no risk that they would act more or less aggressive due to the effect of being observed. A disadvantage is that as the observer is also a participant in the rugby game, he may inadvertently alter the behaviour of the players, leading to reduced or increased aggression.
  17. 17. (b) Identify one issue of reliability in this research, and describe how you could deal with it. [3] One issue of reliability is that the researcher is the only person who is recording the observations. Therefore there is no way to ascertain how reliable his data is as another observer may have recorded different aggressive behaviour than him. To overcome this, a second, non-participant observer could be at the side of the rugby pitch making their own observations of aggressive behaviour. The two sets of observations could then be assessed for inter-observer reliability. (c) Identify one issue of validity in this research, and describe how you could deal with it. [3] One issue of validity is that the coding system that the investigator is using to record the aggressive behaviour may not actually be a valid measure of aggression. He may actually be measuring physical fitness, or competence at rugby for example. To check for content validity, the investigator could show his coding scheme to a panel of experts on aggression, who may suggest improvements. (e) Discuss one ethical issue that may arise in this research. [3] An ethical issue in this research is that as this is a covert observation the participants are unaware that they are in a study. They do not know that their aggressive behaviour is being observed. This raises important ethical issues as they therefore have not given fully informed consent, neither have they got the right to withdraw from the study. To overcome this, the researcher could debrief them at the end of the match and gain retrospective consent.
  18. 18. When assessing the reliability of a study, we generally need to ask two questions 1) Can the study be replicated? 2) If so, will the results be consistent? Reliability and Validity How do we use the words reliability and validity in everyday life? What do these words mean? Is there a difference between them or do they mean the same thing? RELIABILITY Reliability refers to the consistency of a measure. A measure is considered reliable if we get the same result repeatedly. A research method is considered reliable if we can repeat it and get the same results. Coolican (1994) pointed out “Any measure we use in life should be reliable, otherwise it’s useless. You wouldn’t want your car speedometer or a thermometer to give you different readings for the same values of different occasions. This applies to psychological measures as much as any other.” A ruler for example would be reliable, as the results could be replicated time after time and the same results would be gained (consistency). If you
  19. 19. measure the length of a book on Monday, and your ruler tells you its 25 cm long, it will still tell you its 25cm long on Friday. An IQ test however may be unreliable, if a person sits the test on Monday and scores 140, and then sits the same test on Friday and scores 90. Even though it can be replicated, it shows low consistency and therefore is an unreliable test. Some research methods (such as laboratory studies) have high reliability as they can be replicated and the results checked for consistency. Other research methods however (such as case studies and interviews) have lower reliability as they are difficult or impossible to replicate. As they cannot be replicated, we cannot check how consistent the results are. How can we measure reliability? There are several different ways to estimate or improve reliability depending on the research method used. Match the method of estimating reliability to the description Test-Retest reliability If the measure depends upon interpretation of behaviour, we can compare the results from two or more raters. If the results in the two halves are similar, we can assume the test is reliable Split Half Reliability Splitting a test into two halves, and comparing the scores in both halves If the results on the two tests are similar, we can assume the test is reliable Inter-Rater reliability The measure is administered to the same group of people twice If there is high agreement between the raters, the measure is reliable We will look in more detail of the specific reliability of various research methods throughout the course.
  20. 20. VALIDITY A study may be high in reliability, but the results may still be meaningless if we don’t have validity. Validity is the extent to which a test measures what it claims to measure. There are three main aspects of validity that we investigate in psychological research Control, Realism and Generalisability. Control This refers to how well the experimenter has controlled the experimental situation. Control is important as without it, researchers can not establish cause and effect relationships. In other words, without control, we cannot state that it was the independent variable (IV) which caused the change in the dependant variable (DV). The result could have been caused by another variable, called an extraneousvariable(EV). These are variables which have not been controlled by the experimenter, and which may affect the DV (see below). Realism The whole point of psychological research is to provide information about how people behave in real life. If an experiment is too controlled, or the situation too artificial, participants may act differently than they would in real life. Therefore, the results may lack validity. The term mundane realism is used to refer to how well an experiment reflects real life. If an experimental situation has high mundane realism (in other words, it reflects real life) it would be high in _______________________ validity Can you see a potential conflict between control and realism?
  21. 21. Generalisability The aim of psychological research is to produce results which can then be generalised beyond the setting of the experiment. If an experiment is lacking in realism we will be unable to generalise. However, even if an experiment is high in realism, we still may not be able to generalise. For example, the participants may be all from a small group of similar people, meaning low population validity. Many experiments use white, middle class American college students as participants. What issues with generalisability can you think of?
  22. 22. TYPES OF VALIDITY Experimental Validity: is the study really measuring what it intends? INTERNAL VALIDITY refers to things that happen “inside” the study. Internal validity is concerned with whether we can be certain that it was the IV which caused the change in the DV. If aspects of the experimental situation lack validity, the results of the study are meaningless and we can make no meaningful conclusions from them. Internal validity can be affected by a lack of mundane realism. This could lead the participants to act in a way which is unnatural, thus making the results less valid. Internal validity can also be affected by extraneous variables (see below). EXTRANEOUS VARIABLE HOW DOES IT AFFECT VALIDITY? HOW CAN IT BE OVERCOME? Situational variables (anything to do with the environment of the experiment): time of day, temperature, noise levels etc Something about the situation of the experiment could act as an EV if it has an effect on the DV. For example, poor lighting could affect participants performance on a memory test Situational variables can be overcome by the use of standardised procedures which ensure that all participants are tested under the same conditions. Participants variables (anything to do with differences in the participants): age, gender, intelligence, skill, past experience, motivation, education etc. It may be that the differences between the participants cause the change in the DV. For example, one group may perform better on a memory test than another because they are younger, or more motivated. Participant variables can be completely removed by using a repeated measures design (the same participants are used in each condition). Matched pairs (participants in each group are matched) could also be used. Investigator effects: this refers to how the behaviour and language of the experimenter may influence the behaviour of the participants. The way in which an experimenter asks a question might act as a cue for the participant. Also known as Leading questions from the experimenter may consciously or unconsciously alter how the participant responds. For example, the experimenter may provide verbal or non verbal encouragement when the participant behaves in a way Investigator effects can be overcome by using a double blind technique. This is when the person who carries out the research is not the person who designed it.
  23. 23. experimenter bias which supports the hypothesis. Demand characteristics: participants are often searching for cues as to how to behave in an experiment. There could be something about the experimental situation or the behaviour of the experimenter (see investigator effects) which communicates to the participant what is “demanded” of them. The structure of the experiment could lead the participant to guess the aim of the study. For example, participants may perform a memory test, be made to exercise, and then given another memory test. This may lead the participants to guess that the study is about the effect of exercise on memory, which may cause them to change their behaviour When designing a study, it is important to try and create a situation where the participants will not be able to guess what the aim of the study is. Participant effects: participants are aware that they are in an experiment, and so may behave unnaturally. They may be overly helpful and want to please the experimenter. This leads to artificial behaviour. Alternatively, they may decide to go against the experimenter’s aims and deliberately act in a way which spoils the experiment. This is the “screw you” effect. Again, by designing a study so that the participants cannot guess the aims, participant effects can be reduced.
  24. 24. TASKS A. A researcher wants to test whether people’s memories are better in the evening or in the morning. He gives a group of participants a memory test at 9am, and another test at 9pm. The researcher discovers that they scored higher in the morning. He concludes therefore that people’s memories are better in the morning. Name the IV:_________________________ Name the DV:____________________________ Name any extraneous variables that could have altered the DV? How could these EVs have been controlled? B. A psychologist is interested in the effect of age on how well people cope under stressful conditions. Two groups of participants are used, one group are under 25, and another group are over 50. Both groups are asked to sit a difficult exam under timed conditions. After the exam, all of the participants are given a questionnaire to assess how much stress they felt. The older people reported more stress. Name the IV:__________________________ Name the DV:___________________________
  25. 25. Name any extraneous variables that could have altered the DV? How could these EVs have been controlled? EXTERNAL VALIDITY Assuming that our experiment has high ____________________ validity (that we can be sure that the DV was changed by the _____ and not an _____), we need to assess how well our results can be _________________________ beyond the experimental setting. Two issues here are how much ecological validity the study has, and whether it has population validity. Ecological validity refers to how well the experimental situation reflects _________ __________, and therefore how well the results can be __________________________ to other places and settings. Ecological validity can be assessed by looking at the ________________ of the experiment. For example, a field experiment takes place in the participant’s own environment, which would lead to ____________ ecological validity, as it is more naturalistic than a _____________________ experiment. _____________ _______________ on the other hand looks at the tasks that the participants have to do and how realistic these are. If the things that the participants are asked to do in the experiment are artificial and contrived, the study would be said to have ______ _______________ ________________ and therefore _______ ecological validity.
  26. 26. Population validity refers to how well the ____________________ used in the experiment represent the general population. Many psychological studies use white, middle class male American students. Can we legitimately take the results from these participants and apply them to other nationalities, _______________, _______, or even different historical periods? Validity of psychological measures: how valid is the tool we use to measure? When designing an experiment in psychology, we will need to decide upon a way to measure our variables. If what we are measuring is height, weight, or time for example we could use a tapemeasure, scales or stopwatch respectively. However, what about if we want to measure something like selfesteem, intelligence, conformity or linguisticability? These psychological concepts need to be turned into numbers that can be measured and compared. The term for this is operationalisation. To create a measure, we first must define what it is we are measuring. For example, with intelligence, we need to decide what we mean by intelligence and what sort of things we wish to measure. We then decide upon a way to measure this (operationalising). Examples of the types of measures used in psychology are: A test which is given to the participants which produces a score A questionnaire or interview A checklist where participant’s behaviour can be recorded A biological response (e.g. body temperature, hormone levels) A possible issue with this is that by breaking down a concept into a numerical form, we lose validity and we end up not measuring what we intended. However, there are a number of ways we can assess the validity of a measure.
  27. 27. Content Validity Does the method used actually seem to measure what you intended? For example, does an IQ test actually measure levels of intelligence, or is it measuring ability to solve puzzles? To ensure content validity, a panel of experts (on IQ for example) may be asked to assess the measure for validity. Concurrent validity How well does the measure agree with existing measures? For example, does our IQ test agree with established tests of IQ? We can ensure concurrent validity by testing participant with both the new test and the established test. If our test has concurrent validity, there should be high agreement between the scores on both measures. Construct validity Is the method actually measuring all parts of what we are aiming to test? For example, if we use a maths test to test intelligence, we are missing out on other factors involved such as linguistic ability or spatial awareness. To maintain construct validity, we need to define what it is we are aiming to measure, and ensure that all parts of that definition are being measured. Predictive validity Is our measure associated with future behaviour? For example, if someone scores high on our IQ test, we would expect them to perform well in GCSE exams, or do well in their career. This is similar to concurrent validity. We can investigate predictive validity by following up our participants to see if future performance is similar to performance on our measure.
  28. 28. TASKS C. A researcher is looking into the effect of alcohol consumption on self esteem. He develops a questionnaire to assess people’s attitudes towards themselves. How could you see if this questionnaire had content validity? D. An experimenter creates a questionnaire that measures homophobic attitudes. How would you see if this test had construct validity? E. A researcher wants to see if people who live healthy lifestyles have better romantic relationships. He develops a checklist of what constitutes healthy behaviour. How do we know if this checklist has concurrent validity?
  29. 29. Improving Validity - Pilot Studies: Designing a pilot study is often one of the best ways to check that everything in your actual experiment will run smoothly (as much as possible!). A pilot study is a ___________ scale study conducted on a small sample. It helps the researcher to identify any ___________ problems with the ___________ method, design, _____________ given to participants and so on. Pilot studies can also check items on a ______________ to make sure that they are easy to answer and unambiguous. Imagine you have been asked to carry out an experiment into the effects of music on the ability to recall words from a list. Why is it important to carry out a pilot study before conducting the actual experiment? What elements of the experiment would you test in the pilot study (e.g. duration/volume of music playing)?
  30. 30. ETHICAL GUIDELINES IN PSYCHOLOGICAL RESEARCH There are probably more major ethical issues in Psychology than in any other subject. There are a number of reasons for this: psychology involves the study of living creatures (human and animal) results of psychological research may reveal unpleasant facts about human behaviour. The key ethical guidelines Informed consent Means researchers should tell potential participants exactly what is going to happen to them in the experiment, and ask them, without pressure of any kind, whether they are willing to take part. Sometimes, researchers feel that they cannot tell participants what the experiment is about because they may show demand characteristics. Children are often considered to be too young to give their own consent, and the consent of their parents or teachers is enough and should be gained. Deception Means lying to people and deceiving them about something to do with the study. The BPS guidelines say that you should try to avoid intentionally deceiving participants about the purpose and nature of the investigation However in certain circumstances, deceiving to your participants is acceptable and can be justified when: it does not lead to harmful consequences for participants; the study is potentially very useful to society or our understanding not deceiving participants may make the research invalid - in some studies, if participants are told exactly what the study is about, then they may behave differently (this is called demand characteristics). Right of withdrawal This means giving people the opportunity to leave the study at any time if they no longer want to take part. This means that they can withdraw from the study and that the researcher will not use any of their data. Participants should be told abut their right to withdraw and if they are being paid for participating they should be informed that they will still be paid if they drop out.
  31. 31. Harm to participants Participants should not be harmed, either physically or psychologically when participating in research. In practice, however, participants often suffer distress or pain during the course of an experiment and his is considered acceptable as long as: the harm is unavoidable, and the study could not be carried out in any other way; the harm is short-term and relatively minor; the participants are not allowed to leave the study with any residual harm or distress. Debriefing Debriefing means telling the participants what the study was about before they leave . One way to make sure that participants leave the experiment without suffering on-going distress or harm is to debrief, i.e. tell them exactly what the experiment was all about and reassure them that their behaviour in the experiment was 'normal'. Confidentiality Means keeping personal information confidential. It is clearly important that personal information given by participants during the course of a study, or the results of tests taken by participants, are kept confidential. Results can be published, but they must not identify the individual, either by name, or by any other way. Participants should always be told that personal data will be kept confidential. Privacy Studies that observe people in their natural environment must respect the privacy and psychological well-being of the individuals studied. Participants should either: (i) give their consent to being observed or (ii) be observed in a situation where they would normally expect to be observed by strangers.E.g. in a public park or on a bus.
  32. 32. Ethical Issues: In a very controversial experiment, Phillip Zimbardo broke the majority of ethical guidelines set out by the BPS to protect both researcher and participants. Watch a clip of his research to see what happened and answer the questions on the following page. The main ethical issues…
  33. 33. Questioning Ethics: 1) What is the purpose of ethical guidelines? 2) Why are they important to follow? 3) When can research be excused for not following some of these guidelines? 4) How would you, as a researcher, control for the following ethical issues: Deception Informed Consent Protection from Harm Right to Withdraw Confidentiality
  34. 34. Consent: Have the subjects of the study made an informed consent to take part? Deception: have the subjects been deceived? Was there any other way to carry out the study other than deception? Have the procedures been approved by other psychologists? Debriefing: Have the subjects been effectively debriefed? Have any stress caused by the procedures been removed? Withdrawal from the investigation? Are the subjects clear that they can withdraw from the study at any time without penalty or scorn? Confidentiality: participants in psychological research have the right to expect the information that they provide will be treated confidentially. Protection of participants: investigators must protect participants from physical and mental harm during the investigation. Observational research: unless the participants give their consent to being observed, observational research must only take place where those observed could normally be expected to be observed by strangers. Trick or Treat Car Crash http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlLA-7i-2mQ
  35. 35. In the group, pretend this was a psychological study. Discuss the costs and the benefits of the study and make an assessment of whether the study was justified in that the benefits outweigh the costs.
  36. 36. End of section assessment questions: 1) What is a directional hypothesis? 2) Is the independent variable in an experiment measured or manipulated? 3) How might the variable of time be operationalised? 4) Why is it important to control for extraneous variables? 5) How does an independent groups design differ from a repeated measures design? 6) What is a random sample? 7) What is the difference between a controlled and naturalistic observation? 8) How do internal and external validity differ? 9) What are investigator effects?

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