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...
Data Analysis and
Presentation
Summarising Quantitative Data (in graphical form)
Graphs are a useful way of summarising data which enable psychologists t...
Scattergrams
Task: Fill in the gaps below!
1) The bars on a ____________ are joined together and are all of an identical
_...
Measures of central tendency tell the researcher where the average is in a set of data. The
three measures of central tend...
What is the range for the following data sets?
a) 5,4,1,2,1,2,3,4,5,6,8,7,2.
b) 9, 11, 16, 4, 6, 17, 22, 35, 2, 12, 13.
c)...
Good News! You will not be asked to calculate a standard deviation in the exam. However,
you may be asked what the standar...
Correlations
Non-experimental methods
All of the previous research methods we have looked at so far have been experimental...
Decide what co-variables you will be measuring, and operationalise your
variables.
Measure each participant on both co-var...
Task:
What correlation would you expect to find in the following situations?
A. Hand-span and height:
____________________...
that is sold, the more shark attacks there are. Three possible explanations:
1. The sale of ice cream causes shark attacks...
 Often, little manipulation of behaviour is required; all the researcher does is
measure existing variables. Therefore, i...
Correlational Analysis:
Correlations are designed to investigate the strengthand direction of a relationship
between two v...
A researcher wanted to find out the relationship between the number of hours a child spent
in day care and their level of ...
Presenting and Analysing Qualitative Data:
Due to its richness and non-numerical nature, qualitative data cannot be analys...
End of section assessment questions:
1) What is the difference between a histogram and a bar chart?
2) Which type of data ...
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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. Data Analysis and Presentation
  4. 4. Summarising Quantitative Data (in graphical form) Graphs are a useful way of summarising data which enable psychologists to easily see trends or patterns in data. Three graphs which are commonly used to display quantitative data are: Histograms Bar Charts Notes: This graph is likely to be used when: Notes: This graph is likely to be used when:
  5. 5. Scattergrams Task: Fill in the gaps below! 1) The bars on a ____________ are joined together and are all of an identical ______________. 2) A histogram is commonly used to show __________ (e.g. IQ or test) 3) Bar charts are a useful way of showing ___________ statistics (e.g. percentages or ratios) 4) Bars on a bar chart are not ___________ together because the scale is not _______________. 5) Scattergrams are used to show the ____________ and _____________ of correlations. 6) Correlations can either be ______________, negative or have no correlation. Analysis and interpretation of quantitative data: Notes: This graph is likely to be used when:
  6. 6. Measures of central tendency tell the researcher where the average is in a set of data. The three measures of central tendency you need to know well are the mean, median and mode. Complete the sentences below: 1. The _________ is known as the ___________ average. It is calculated by adding up all the scores in a set of data and then ___________ them by the total ___________ of scores. 2. The _____________ is the middle value of a data set. It is calculated by putting the data in _______ and finding the __________ score. If there is an ________ number of scores, you should add the two middle scores together and __________ by ____. 3. The ___________ is the most ___________ occurring score. It is the easiest to calculate – simply put your data in ________ and work out which one occurs the __________! Calculate the mean, median and mode for the following: 1a) Data from a psychology quiz: 1,2,3,7,10,20,30,43,47,48,50. Mean = Median= Mode= 1b) The number of faces recalled out of 12 in a free recall task: 1,1,5,2,3,7,6,5,2,1,8,7,9,5,4,3,2,5. Mean= Median= Mode= 1c) Scores on a questionnaire (out of 25). 20,30,25,16,13,14,25,26,28. Mean= Median= Mode= In addition to wanting to know the statistical average of the data, researchers occasionally want to work out how much variability there is in a data set. This is known as a measure of dispersion. One way of calculation the measure of dispersion within a data set is to calculate the range. This incredibly easy method involves subtracting the lowest score from the highest score. That is it!
  7. 7. What is the range for the following data sets? a) 5,4,1,2,1,2,3,4,5,6,8,7,2. b) 9, 11, 16, 4, 6, 17, 22, 35, 2, 12, 13. c) 3, 4, 5, 8, 11, 14, 12, 16, 1, 9, 15, 17. Standard Deviation Standard deviation is the measure of the spread of scores around the mean (in other words, it tells us how far the scores are scattered around the mean). It is the most powerful measure of dispersion as it takes all scores into account. As a result, it is often used my researchers who want to know more about the dispersion of their data. Below is an example of how a standard deviation might look.
  8. 8. Good News! You will not be asked to calculate a standard deviation in the exam. However, you may be asked what the standard deviation tells you about a set of data and why it is used. If the standard deviation is ___________ it tells us that many of the data points are far away from the mean. If the standard deviation is small, it tells us that the data was __________ clustered around the mean. No standard deviation tells us that all data values were the same – and there was no variation at all! This happens when all the data points are equal. Exam Question – June 2011 (modified) 1) Two different drug therapies were tested on a group of patients. The table below shows the improvement made between the start and end of the treatment. Explain what these findings suggest about the different therapies. Average Range Standard Deviation Therapy A 6.5 2 - 19 5.9 Therapy B 6 4 - 9 7.8 _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________
  9. 9. Correlations Non-experimental methods All of the previous research methods we have looked at so far have been experimental. This means that the researcher has at least one IV, one DV, and usually will manipulate and control the experimental situation in some way to gain results. However, in psychology, there are also non-experimental methods of investigation. This is where the researcher investigates phenomena in a way where there is no manipulation of variables. In non-experimental methods, the researcher uses various methods to measure variables, and looks for relationships. The non-experimental methods you need to know about are Correlations Interviews and questionnaires Observations Case Studies Content analysis What is a correlation? A correlation is a relationship between two variables. A correlational design is a way to test the relationship between these variables. A participant provides data for both variables. A correlational design allows us to test whether 2 or more phenomena are related, and if so how strongly In a correlational design, there are no independent or dependant variables, but co-variables. When do we use a correlational design? To test a hypothesis about a relationship between two variables, for example: __________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________ When looking for a relationship that would be unethical to manipulate for an experiment, for example: __________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________ How to use correlations
  10. 10. Decide what co-variables you will be measuring, and operationalise your variables. Measure each participant on both co-variables. Plot the values on the scatter graph to see if there is a relationship. Carry out a statistical test to see if the relationship is significant or due to chance. Correlation Coefficients The correlation coefficient is measured from _______ to _______. A correlation can be positive, negative or no correlation. The ________________ the number, the stronger the relationship. Match the descriptions Type Description Coefficien t Example Positive Correlation There is no relationship between the variables 0 to +1 Shoe size and IQ Negative Correlation As one variable increases, the other decreases Close to 0 The taller a person is the heavier they are No Correlation As one variable increases, the other also increases 0 to -1 The more alcohol you drink, the less can remember
  11. 11. Task: What correlation would you expect to find in the following situations? A. Hand-span and height: ____________________________________________________________________ B. Smoking and life expectancy: ____________________________________________________________________ C. No. of pets owned and cleanliness of home: ____________________________________________________________________ D. No. of Facebook friends and avg. units of alcohol drunk: ____________________________________________________________________ E. No. of A levels taken and levels of stress: __________________________________________________________________ F. Size of DVD collection and money in bank account: __________________________________________________________________ Correlation and Causation You have performed a statistical test, and found that two co-variables are correlated (there is a relationship). What does this tell us about cause? When looking at correlation, it is important to remember that: Just because there is a relationship, we cannot be certain that one co-variable caused the other. If we find that there is a relationship between co-variables X and Y, there are three possible explanations: 1. X caused Y 2. Y caused X 3. A third variable (Z) caused the change to both X and Y This third variable is known as an intervening variable. Example 1: It has been established that there is a strong positive correlation between ice cream sales (X) and shark attacks (Y); the more ice cream
  12. 12. that is sold, the more shark attacks there are. Three possible explanations: 1. The sale of ice cream causes shark attacks to increase 2. The shark attacks cause the sales of ice cream to increase 3. __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________ Which explanation seems the most plausible? Example 2: There is a positive correlation between the number of hours a child plays violent computer games for (X), and the level of aggression that child shows (Y). 1. ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ 2. ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ 3. ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ Evaluation of correlational research  Precise information on the degree of relationship between variables is available in the form of the correlation coefficient. If a significant relationship is found, it can suggest ideas for experimental studies to determine cause and effect relationships.  Can be used when it would be impractical or unethical to manipulate variables.  It can make use of existingdata, and so often can be a quick and easy way to carry out research.
  13. 13.  Often, little manipulation of behaviour is required; all the researcher does is measure existing variables. Therefore, it is often high in mundane realism/ecological validity.  No causeandeffectrelationships can be inferred. E.g. one variable cannot be said to cause an increase or decrease in the other variable. The relationship could be explained by a third intervening variable. As such, correlations are open to misinterpretation.  As with experiments, the correlations may lack internal/externalvalidity. For example the method used for measure IQ might lack validity, or the sample may lack generalisability.  Correlations should be plotted out on scatter graphs to properly illustrate the relationships between two variables. A correlation co-efficient of zero may not form a random pattern (see below). The graph here shows the relationship between arousal (stress) and performance on a task. When arousal is too high or too low, performance is impeded. This is known as the Yerkes-Dodson effect.
  14. 14. Correlational Analysis: Correlations are designed to investigate the strengthand direction of a relationship between two variables. The strength of this correlation is expressed by the correlation coefficient. The correlation coefficient is always between +1 and -1 where +1 represents a perfect positive correlation and -1 represents a perfect negative correlation.A correlation coefficient of 0 means that there is no correlation between the two variables.
  15. 15. A researcher wanted to find out the relationship between the number of hours a child spent in day care and their level of aggression. Plot the following data at the bottom of the page. Does the scattergram show a negative or positive correlation? What does this mean? Participant Number of hours in day care per week Score on aggression scale (out of 50) 1 30 45 2 35 48 3 10 12 4 35 40 5 30 28 6 6 6 7 8 10 8 15 20 9 40 48 10 20 25
  16. 16. Presenting and Analysing Qualitative Data: Due to its richness and non-numerical nature, qualitative data cannot be analysed or displayed by the methods we have examined so far. Instead, this data has to be analysed using a process called content analysis. Traditional forms of content analysis are conducted through six stages. Summarise these in the chart below. The main problem with any form of content analysis is that it can be interpreteddifferently by different researchers. Taking the original data out of context may lead to it being misinterpreted or a different slant being taken. The only way to control for this is through the use of an external party who analyse, interpret and justify every decision they make during the process. Alternatively, several researchers can work together at each step.
  17. 17. End of section assessment questions: 1) What is the difference between a histogram and a bar chart? 2) Which type of data can be displayed in both graphs and tables? 3) When would you be likely to use the mode as a measure of central tendency? 4) What does a large standard deviation suggest about the data? 5) Circle the correlation co-efficient which can be described as a strong positive correlation. +0.06 +0.66 +0.99 6) Correlational studies show a link between two variables but they do not show…? 7) List the six stages involved in a traditional content analysis. 8) What is one problem that might occur when conducting a content analysis and how can it be controlled?

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