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  1. 1. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 1 UNIT G544 Approaches and Research Methods in Psychology Revision Booklet
  2. 2. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 2 Overview of unit This unit brings together the approaches, perspectives, methods, issues and debates covered throughout the course. It will be assessed in two sections: The unit will consist of two parts:  Section A: Research methods: the design of a practical project.  Section B: Structured synoptic questions on approaches, perspectives, methods, issues and debates. The paper is 1 hour and 30 minutes – you will need to spend 45 minutes on each section! Section A – Research methods: the design of a practical project This section will examine all aspects of research methods including all of the topics in the AS research methods unit and the design of a practical project. This unit builds and extends on the research methodology learned in unit G541. The question paper will contain a short passage setting the scene and provide the focus for a set of research questions. The assessment task will require the design of a specific practical project that could be carried out by candidates, for example a repeated measures design for an experiment involving two conditions and collecting at least ordinal data. It is recommended that the process of designing, conducting and evaluating be practised within a classroom setting in preparation as candidates may be asked about practical difficulties or problems and how they could be overcome. Research methodology Candidates should have knowledge and experience of:  A range of research techniques (methods) such as experiment, self-report, observation and correlation;  the selection of a research question;  the framing of operationalized hypotheses including null and research hypotheses; one- and two-tailed;  the description and justification of the design – independent samples, repeated measures, matched pairs;  populations, a suitable sample and sampling method/technique;  materials;  the procedure, including the measurement of variables, using observations, self-reports or tests that generate nominal or at least ordinal data;  control of extraneous variables (participant, experimenter and situational);  counterbalancing of conditions and allocation of participants to groups;  ethical issues;  the levels of measurement of the data;  collection and recording of data;  presentation of the data, including descriptive statistics, measures of central tendency and dispersion, data tables and graphs;  Analysis of data: nonparametric tests (sign test, chi-square, Wilcoxon, Mann–Whitney, Spearman) and levels of significance (probability, type 1 and type 2 errors).
  3. 3. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 3 Evaluation of methodology  Candidates should have knowledge and experience of:  The strengths and weaknesses of different research methods;  The strengths and weaknesses of any aspect of the design, the validity and reliability of the measurements; the ethics of the procedure. Consideration of  Candidates should have knowledge and experience of:  possible future research;  alternative designs and samples. Section B – Approaches, perspectives, methods, issues and debates This section will examine all aspects of approaches, perspectives, methods, issues and debates arising throughout the whole AS and A2 course. Questions will be in the form of structured essay questions. For this section, candidates are expected to have knowledge and understanding of, and to be able to evaluate, all approaches, perspectives, methods, issues and debates raised as part of the AS course, developed as part of the A2 course. New issues and debates are introduced for A2. Each aspect listed below will be covered as part of AS level and the content of Unit G543: Options in Applied Psychology Approaches  physiological;  cognitive;  individual differences;  developmental;  social. Perspectives  behaviourist;  psychodynamic. Methods  experimental (laboratory and field);  case study;  self-report;  observation;  methodological issues such as reliability and validity. Issues  ethics;  ecological validity;  longitudinal and snapshot;  qualitative and quantitative data.  Debates  determinism and free will;  reductionism and holism;  nature–nurture;  ethnocentrism;  psychology as science;  individual and situational explanations;  the usefulness of psychological research.
  4. 4. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 4 Section A Exam Questions Jan 2013 June 2012 State the option from (a) –(g) you have chosen for your practical project………. 1. State the aim of your practical project. (3) 2. Describe the method you would use to conduct your practical project. 13 marks are awarded for replicability and appropriateness and 6 for the quality of design and its feasibility. (13+6) 3. Outline one disadvantage of using observation in your practical project. (3) 4. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the types of data you would collect in your practical project. (6) 5. Describe how you would present the data that could be collected in your practical project. (3) 6. Explain how you would address one ethical issue in your practical project. (3) 7. Outline how time sampling could be used in your practical project. (3) State the option from (a) –(g) you have chosen for your practical project………. 1. State an alternative hypothesis for your practical project. (3) 2. Describe the method you would use to conduct your practical project. 13 marks are awarded for replicability and appropriateness and 6 for the quality of design and its feasibility. (13+6) 3. Outline one strength of using the matched pairs design in your practical project. (3) 4. What does p<0.05 level of significance mean? (2) If you obtained this level of significance in your practical project, explain what this would mean in relation to your null hypothesis. (4) 5. Describe an alternative experimental design to using matched pairs in your practical project. (3) 6. Explain how you would deal with one ethical issue in your practical project. (3) 7. Identify one extraneous variable in your practical project and explain how it could be controlled. (3)
  5. 5. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 5 Jan 2012 June 2011 State the option from (a) –(g) you have chosen for your practical project………. 1. State the null hypothesis for your practical project. (3) 2. Describe the method you would use to conduct your practical project. 13 marks are awarded for replicability and appropriateness and 6 for the quality of design and its feasibility. (13+6) 3. Outline one disadvantage of using a correlation in your practical project. (3) 4. Evaluate the measurement of one of your variables in your practical project. (6) 5. Explain how participant variables could bias the sample in your practical project. (3) 6. Explain how you could ensure that your practical project avoids embarrassing the participants. (3) 7. Outline and alternative method for measuring one of the variables in your practical project and explain how it could be controlled. (3) State the option from (a) –(g) you have chosen for your practical project………. 1. State the alternative hypothesis for your practical project. (3) 2. Describe the method you would use to conduct your practical project. 13 marks are awarded for replicability and appropriateness and 6 for the quality of design and its feasibility. (13+6) 3. Outline one advantage for using a repeated measures design in your practical project. (3) 4. Explain one strength of the sampling method you would use in your practical project. (3) Explain one weakness of the sampling method you would use in your practical project. (3) 5. State an appropriate statistical test you would use to analyse the data you would collect in your practical project. Give reasons for your choice. (3) 6. Briefly discuss one ethical issue in relation to your practical project. (3) 7. Suggest an alternative way of measuring the dependent variable in your practical project. (3)
  6. 6. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 6 Jan 2011 June 2010 State the option from (a) –(g) you have chosen for your practical project………. 1. Construct a research question for your practical project. (3) 2. Describe the method you would use to conduct your practical project. 13 marks are awarded for replicability and appropriateness and 6 for the quality of design and its feasibility. (13+6) 3. Outline one advantage for using a questionnaire in your practical project. (3) 4. Explain one strength of using closed questions in your practical project. (3) Explain one weakness of using closed questions in your practical project. (3) 5. Explain how using leading questions could influence the results of your practical project. (3) 6. How could you ensure that your questionnaire would not cause too much distress to the participants (3). 7. Suggest a more appropriate sampling method you could have used to obtain your participants for your practical project. (3) State the option from (a) –(g) you have chosen for your practical project………. 1. State the alternative hypothesis for your practical project. (3) 2. Describe the method you would use to conduct your practical project. 13 marks are awarded for replicability and appropriateness and 6 for the quality of design and its feasibility. (13+6) 3. State an appropriate statistical test you would use to analyse the data you would collect in your practical project. Give reasons for your choice. (3) 4. Sketch a graph to present the data that could be collected. (3) What could this graph tell you about the relationship between the two variables? (3) 5. Explain one weakness of conducting this practical project as a correlation. (3) 6. How would you address any one ethical issue in the conduct of this practical project? (3) 7. Outline one other way your research question could be investigated. (3)
  7. 7. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 7 Jan 2010 Summary of past paper exam questions for section A So far the examiners have asked candidates to design practical projects using - Questionnaire o Volunteer sampling (June 2013) - Structured observation o Event sampling (Jan 2013) - Experiments o Matched pairs (June 2012) o Repeated measures (June 2011) o Independent measures (Jan 2010) - Correlational study o Producing ordinal data (Jan 2012 + June 2010) - Questionnaire o Opportunity sampling (Jan 2011) State the option from (a) –(g) you have chosen for your practical project………. 1. State the null hypothesis for your practical project. (3) 2. Describe the method you would use to conduct your practical project. 13 marks are awarded for replicability and appropriateness and 6 for the quality of design and its feasibility. (13+6) 3. Give an advantage of using an alternative experimental design in your practical project. (3) 4. Assess the validity of your investigation in measuring the independent variable. (6) 5. Outline how you could select a sample which would be representative. (3) 6. What ethical issues would you consider in designing this practical project? (3) 7. Suggest one idea for possible future research related to your practical project. (3)
  8. 8. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 8 Section A Section A (Total 40 marks) Answer all questions  You will be given a choice of 7 scenarios. Choose one on which to answer all the questions following  You may be told what design of experiment to carry out (repeated measures, matched pairs, repeated measures) and what level of data to collect (ordinal, nominal, interval).  You may be asked: o what your null / alternate hypothesis will be o To describe the method you would use to conduct your practical project (this needs to be replicable, appropriate for the scenario you have chosen, feasible and high quality) o To give a strength / limitation of using an alternative design in your practical project (i.e. if you have used an independent measures design, what would the strengths / limitations be of using a repeated measures / matched pairs design o To assess the validity of your investigation in measuring the dependent variable o Outline how you could select a sample which would be representative o What ethical issues you would need to consider in designing your practical project o To suggest one idea for possible future research related to your practical project Tacking the very 1st question on your G544 exam The format of question one is likely to be worth 3 marks and is likely to ask you to A. State the ……………………………hypothesis for your practical project. - Null - Alternative - Directional (one-tailed) - Non-directional (two-tailed) Or B. Construct a research question for your practical project. Or C. State the aim of your practical project.
  9. 9. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 9 Hypotheses The experimental hypothesis predicts the effect of the IV on the DV. For example, “people who drink alcohol before driving will drive less well than those who do not drink alcohol before driving”. In this example the amount of alcohol drunk is the independent variable (cause) which will be manipulated in order to test its effect on the dependent variable of people’s driving performance (effect). In order for the hypothesis to be tested it needs to be ‘operationalised’; it should show how the variables will actually be tested. For example “people will take significantly longer to stop the car (using a simulator) when they have consumed alcohol (half pint of lager) than when they have not (no alcohol)”. The null hypothesis states that there will be no effect of the IV on the DV, for example, “there will be no significant difference in the time taken to stop the car (using a simulator) between those who have consumed alcohol and those who have not”. One tailed and two tailed hypotheses A 1-tailed hypothesis (directional) predicts the direction in which results are expected to occur. For example, “rehearsal improves the recall of words”, “alcohol impairs driving performance”, etc. A 2-tailed hypothesis (non-directional) will simply state that there is some kind of difference between the two events. For example, “the amount of rehearsal will affect recall” or “alcohol intake will affect driving performance”.
  10. 10. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 10 Constructing a research question If you are required to write a research question, you will be given a list of options to choose from. E.g. choose one of the options below a) Fear of crime b) Anxiety in sport c) School phobia d) Phobia of open spaces. The main rule for writing a research question is that it should be appropriate to the option chosen and clearly worded. For three marks you should ensure you use all of the wording in the option. Remember to keep the question simple. You do not need to operationalize your variables for a research question. a) Do people have an excessive fear of crime? b) Does anxiety in sport differ between males and females? c) Does school phobia affect exam performance? d) Can a phobia of open spaces be treated with systematic desensitisation? Stating an Aim If you are required to write an aim, you will be given a list of options to choose from. E.g. choose one of the options below a) Mobile phone usage b) Helping behaviour c) Aggressive behaviour An aim is a general statement about the purpose of the investigation, they are used to provide a clear focus for the research and hypotheses can be created from them. An aim must be framed as a statement and not a question. So: a) To investigate the relationship between age and mobile phone usage. b) To find out if observing positive role models increases helping behaviours. c) To find out if men show more aggressive behaviour than women when watching a football match.
  11. 11. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 11 Tackling the second question on your G544 exam: this question will ask you to ‘describe the method you would use to conduct your practical project’ - Replicability and appropriateness (13 marks) - Quality of design and its feasibility (6 marks Remember to think WHO? WHAT? WHEN? HOW? WHY? And explain your reasons for why you have chosen to do what you are doing. Include the following: 1. Sampling method you are going to use o How many participants? o Where will you find them? o How will you approach them? o What age range, what sex? Will you have equal numbers of each sex? Why? (more generalisable) o Why are you using the particular sampling method you are using? 2. What will you do when you have your participants? o Will you brief them and ask for consent or will this affect the results? o Will you ask them to meet you somewhere at a particular time or will you ask them to come with you now? o Will you take them to a room? What will the room be like? Or will you test them in the place you are currently at? o Will you test them separately or in a group? o Will you split them into groups or if it is an experiment, will you test the same participants in different conditions (repeated measures) or will you test different participants in different conditions (independent measures OR matched pairs)? o Will you carry out a pilot test? 3. How are you going to test the participants? o Self-report method of questionnaire/interview (make sure you tell the examiner some questions) o If it is an experiment, what is the IV and what is the DV? o What controls will you use to avoid extraneous variables? Will you use any controls? Why? o If it is a self-report, how will you give the questions to them? In what order and why? o If it is an observation, what behaviour will you record? o Will you split the behaviours up into categories and tally them? 4. How will you collect the data? 5. Will you debrief the participants or tell them the full aim at the end? [ETHICS]
  12. 12. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 12 How is question 2 marked? 13 marks for REPLICABILITY and appropriateness  Could someone else carry out the experiment from your instructions? 6 marks for quality of DESIGN and its feasibility  The design must be appropriate to the research question e.g. independent measures, collects at least ordinal data  It must be pragmatic - i.e. feasible, practical. e.g. target population is all the members of a sixth form in North London and not the whole population of the UK ! It should be something you could do – should be inexpensive, quick and easy to administer.  It must be ethical - must conform to BPS ethics code + remember not to use participants under 16 years of age. For replicability and appropriateness 0-4 marks The description of the sample, the way it was selected and the way participants were allocated to groups is brief and/or unclearly stated. Answers do not contain much structure or organisation and it is often difficult to understand what was done. There is little or no use of specialist terms. Examples of materials used are missing or incomplete as are details of the scoring, timing or conditions of the test. 5-8 marks The choice of sample and sampling technique is appropriate but could be described more fully. The structure and organization of the description of the procedure is generally plausible, appropriate and fairly detailed. There is some use of specialist terms. The investigation is not fully replicable as details of materials and test conditions, including timing, are incomplete 9-13 marks - at the top end the investigation is fully replicable The type of sample and the way it was selected, the allocation to groups, a description of test or questionnaire with examples, or observation schedule and criteria, the conditions and timing, methods of learning and testing, scorings and ratings are all fully and clearly described [13] For the quality of the design and its feasibility 0 marks The design is not appropriate to the research question or not as specified in the exam question, not pragmatic ( totally impracticable) , or describes a totally unethical procedure 1-2 marks The design is experimental, but does not logically follow from the research question, or fit the exam question, or is not practical [pragmatic] or has big ethical problems 3-4 marks The design is experimental and has appropriate level of measurement and is appropriate to the RQ, but has minor ethical or practical problems 5-6 marks The design is appropriate to the research question and is pragmatic and ethical [6]
  13. 13. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 13 PLANNING A STUDY Tackling the second question on your G544 exam: this question will ask you to ‘describe the method you would use to conduct your practical project’ - Replicability and appropriateness (13 marks) - Quality of design and its feasibility (6 marks Remember to think WHO? WHAT? WHERE? WHEN? HOW? WHY? And explain your reasons for why you have chosen to do what you are doing. Please note that the finer details will depend on whether the study is an experiment, self- report, observational or correlational. WHO?  Target population  Recruiting method. Don’t choose random. Choose opportunity sample or self- selected. Name the method and say exactly where and how you’d recruit them.  State how many in sample (50 is a good number), age range and, if relevant to your investigation, their gender WHAT?  State exact nature of your investigation: experiment, self-report, observation or correlation. It might be an experiment that includes some observation. State your variables: IV and DV for an experiment, but remember it is 2 key variables for a correlational study. State exactly what is being investigated. All variables need to be operationalised (i.e. you state exactly how they will be measured). WHERE?  Say exactly where the study will take place. Will all the pps be in the same place at the same time? If not, why not? WHEN?  Will your study happen at a particular time of day for an important reason? If so, explain this. State when it will be carried out. HOW? This is a description of the procedure that is so clear that anyone reading it could easily do a replication. This section will vary according to the research method. For an experiment you should include:  Exact details of the task (or tasks)  Any standardised instructions  Description of any materials used  Any timing that would be done, using a stopwatch  Description of how the raw data would be gathered and presented  How the data would be analysed (descriptive stats to calculate mean, median, mode, range, percentages) and presented in bar chart  Inferential stats to be chosen with reasons for choice  Ethical issues to be considered  Debriefing
  14. 14. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 14 For self-report you should include:  How you will design your questionnaire  One or two examples of questions / items including mixture of open and closed  How the items will be scored to give some quantitative data. E.g. using the Likert scale where strongly agree might score 5, agree 4, don’t know 3, disagree 2 and strongly disagree 1  State how the questionnaire will be distributed  Standardised instructions  How the data would be analysed (descriptive stats to calculate mean, median, mode, range, percentages) and presented in bar chart  Inferential stats to be chosen with reasons for choice  Ethical issues to be considered, especially confidentiality  Debriefing For observation you should include:  The nature of the observation, e.g. covert and/or participant observation  How many observers you would plan to use  Training of observers ahead of the study to improve inter-rater reliability  Whether you would use time sampling or event sampling (usually time sampling)  Coding scheme with categories of behaviours  The level of data you would collect. In an observation it is often nominal data (just the numbers in each category)  How the data would be analysed (descriptive stats to calculate mean, median, mode, range, percentages) and presented in bar chart  Inferential stats to be chosen with reasons for choice  Ethical issues to be considered, especially the invasion of privacy aspect of confidentiality For correlation you should include:  How you would operationalise the two key variables. These must be quantitative measures with variable numerical scores  Exactly how you would proceed to measure those variables (often it would make sense to collect data from one participant at a time)  Each participant produces two scores. Each axis of the scattergraph represents one variable. Each participant’s scores meet in one point on the scattergraph  Mention that that correlation coefficient would be calculated using the Spearman’s rank order correlation test.  Ethical issues  Debriefing
  15. 15. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 15 Experimental design Type of experiment Experiment Laboratory Field Quasi (natural) Explanation Conducted in highly controlled conditions and usually in laboratory settings Conducted in the participants’ own environment The independent variable is naturally- occurring, and therefore not manipulated Strengths There are high levels of control (objective), so extraneous variables are avoided, and the IV can be isolated to measure the effect on the DV, and therefore we can infer cause and effect Highly reliable because of the high levels of control and these high levels of control produce a standardised procedure, making it easy to repeat to look for consistent or similar findings. High in ecological validity, because it is conducted in the participant’s natural environment, so therefore they will act normally, and the results will be representative of everyday life and can be generalised to other settings. The participants may not know they are being studied, so will be less likely to respond to demand characteristics, which makes the study more valid (because you’re measuring what you’re supposed to measure). The IV is not manipulated, so there is less control, making the situation more ecologically valid, so it is more generalisable to other situations/people. Design Repeated measures Independent measures Matched pairs Explanation Performance of participants in one condition compared with performance of the same participants in another condition Performance of participants in one condition compared with performance of different participants in another condition Participants in each condition matched to eac other on variables, such as age, sex, IQ, etc (so it’s like they are the same person in different conditions) Strengths Avoids participant variables/individual differences, as the same participants are used No order effects, as different participants used in each condition Overcomes problems of individual differences and, as they are matched on traits and also overcomes problem of order effects, because different participants are used Weaknesses There could be order effects – person may gain practice, become bored or tired Problem of participant variables/individual differences because different participants are being used and everyone’s different, so there could be differences in performance of participants. Can be costly and time- consuming because there needs to be some technique of matching the participants.
  16. 16. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 16 Weaknesses Low in ecological validity because laboratory experiments do not relate to everyday life, as the situation is full of control. Therefore, it may be hard to generalise results to other situations, which are not as controlled, as the participant could behave differently in a controlled situation. High levels of control could produce an artificial situation, and therefore the participants could show demand characteristics or respond to social-desirability bias if they guess the aim from the controls. Task could be low in mundane realism, and not representative of a task completed in everyday life. The researcher cannot isolate the IV to measure the effect on the DV as they cannot fully control the situation. Therefore, we cannot really infer cause and effect as we cannot be sure that the IV is affecting the DV and that it is not another variable, such as an extraneous variable. Not very reliable, because there is not a lot of control and no complete standardised procedure. Therefore, it is harder to replicate in exactly the same way, so it will be hard to find the same findings again. There could be ethical issues to do with consent and withdrawal, because the participant often does not know they are being studied, and it would lower the validity if they did know they were being studied. The researcher has to wait for the conditions to happen naturally, because they are not allowed to manipulate the IV. Therefore, they could be waiting a long time or they may not have that many participants, so the sample isn’t representative of the target population. Reliability, Validity and Controls in Experiments Reliability in experiments Reliability refers to whether a measurement device is consistent. A measurement is said to be reliable or consistent if the measurement can produce similar results if used again in similar circumstances. For example, if a speedometer gave the same readings at the same speed it would be reliable. If it didn't it would be pretty useless and unreliable. The ‘measurement device’ really means the procedure as that is how the psychological behaviour is measured. Internal reliability refers to whether the procedure is the same within the experiment; i.e. for every participant or between conditions. External reliability refers to whether the procedure is the same between experiments; i.e. when the study is replicated at a later date will it yield the same results assuming nothing else has changed?
  17. 17. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 17 Validity in experiments Validity refers to accuracy, whether an experiment really measures what it claims to measure. For example, imagine your teacher wants to know how intelligent you are and decides to measure the circumference of your head with a tape measure. Is this valid? A study can also be said to be valid if we can be sure that the variations in the IV caused the changes in the DV, and that the changes were not caused by something else, for example extraneous variables (see below). Internal validity refers to whether a test measures what it claims to measure. Test validity refers to whether a test actually measures the effect of the IV on the DV. Controls There may be factors other than the IV that could cause the DV to change. These things are referred to as extraneous variables when they have the potential to change the DV and confounding variables when they actually do affect the DV. Extraneous variables could be caused by the environmental conditions (light, noise, heat, etc.), the characteristics of the participants (emotional state, sex, age, etc.), or the characteristics of the task (the instructions given by the experimenter, the way stimulus materials are presented, etc). The list of possible extraneous variables is endless. The experimenter needs to try as far as possible to ‘control’ these extraneous variables so he/she knows that they cannot cause the change in the DV. Controls may include allowing the same extraneous variables to be present in all conditions of the IV, having standardised instructions, etc. Controlling these factors will increase the reliability and validity of the study.
  18. 18. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 18 Sampling Techniques One of the most important issues about any type of method is how representative of the population the results are. Obviously it is not usually possible to test everyone in the target population so therefore psychologists use sampling techniques to choose people who are representative (typical) of the population as a whole. Sampling technique Description Strengths Weaknesses OpportunitySampling This sampling technique involves taking the sample from people who are available at the time the study is carried out and fit the criteria you are looking for. This may simple consist of choosing the first 20 students in your college canteen to fill in your questionnaire. It can also be seen as adequate when investigating processes which are thought to work in similar ways for most individuals such as memory processes. Sometimes the only sampling technique available as the researcher has no control over who is studied. This is often the case with natural experiments. Easy in terms of time and therefore money. For example the researcher may use friends, family or colleagues. Can produce a biased sample as it is easy for the researcher to choose people from their own social and cultural group. This sample would therefore not be representative of your target population as you friends may have different qualities to people in general. Self- selected/volunteer sampling This sampling technique consists of participants becoming part of a study because they volunteer when asked or in response to an advert. This sampling technique is used in a number of the core studies, for example Milgram (1963). Useful as it is quick and relatively easy to do and it can also reach a wide variety of participants The type of participants who volunteer may not be representative of the target population as they may have a particular motivation to participate (e.g. a vested interest in the research).
  19. 19. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 19 RandomSampling This is a sampling technique which is defined as a sample in which every member of the population has an equal chance of being chosen. This involves identifying everyone in the target population and then selecting the number of participants you need. For example, you could put all of the names of the students at your college in a hat and pick out however many you need Best technique for providing an unbiased representative sample of a target population. Can be very time consuming and is often impossible to carry out, particularly when you have a large target population, of say all students. For example if you do not have the names of all the people in your target population you would struggle to conduct this type of sample StratifiedSampling This sampling technique involves classifying the population into categories and then choosing a sample which consists of participants from each category in the same proportions as they are in the population. For example, if you wanted to carry out a stratified sample of students from a sixth form college you might decide that important variables are sex, 1st or 2nd years, age, have a part-time job and so on. You could then identify how many participants there are in each of these categories and choose the same proportion of participants in these categories for your study. The sample should be completely representative of the population. Very time consuming as the categories have to be identified and calculated. As with random sampling, if you do not have details of all the people in your target population you would struggle to conduct this sampling technique Snowballsampling This sampling technique involves participants directing researchers to other participants. For example if you were interested in studying students who take illegal drugs you may ask a participant who fits your target population to tell their friends about the study and ask them to get in touch with the researcher and so on. This sampling technique is useful if the population you are interested in is difficult to contact. A problem with this technique is that the sample may be biased and unrepresentative as the sample will only consist of ‘friends of friends’ and therefore may be quite similar in nature.
  20. 20. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 20 Self-Reports Experiments and observational studies usually provide us with a third-party interpretation of behaviour, and cannot tell us what the participants themselves think or feel, or the reasons for their behaviour. For this we need ‘self-report’ methods where the data is gathered by asking the participant. Examples of self-report methods include questionnaires, interviews and diary studies. STRENGTHS OF SELF-REPORT STUDIES WEAKNESSES OF SELF-REPORT STUDIES  We can find out things that cannot easily be discovered by experimentation or observation (e.g. people’s attitudes, beliefs, opinions).  A number of variables can be examined simultaneously.  They are relatively cheap and easy to carry out.  Can gather both quantitative and qualitative data.  Some people may refuse to answer some of the questions, so a sample of willing participants is sometimes difficult to obtain. If self-selected pps are used this may not be a representative sample.  People may not respond truthfully due to social desirability bias, demand characteristics or leading questions.  These problems can be minimised by using ‘filler’ questions, disguising the real purpose of the questionnaire or interview.  Open questions rely on the researcher’s interpretation, which makes them difficult to score objectively and analyse. Strengths of questionnaires Weaknesses of questionnaires  Can be easily replicated.  Data can be collected from a very large number of people cheaply and quickly.  People may feel more willing to give away personal information in writing than they would face to face.  People may produce “response set” answers by ticking the same response box to all the questions.  The sample may be biased because they can only be completed by literate people with time to fill them in. STRENGTHS OF INTERVIEWS WEAKNESSES OF INTERVIEWS  Detailed information can be gained from each respondent especially if it is unstructured.  An unstructured interview can access information that may not be revealed by structured questions as the conversation is free to flow.  The data collected can easily be influenced by the interviewer as the respondent may pick up on the interviewer’s expectations (interviewer bias), or show social desirability bias.  Requires the interviewer to be trained and skilled at getting information from people which they feel uncomfortable about giving.
  21. 21. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 21 Rating/Likert scale; On a scale of 1-5 (1 being very happy and 5 being very sad), how happy are you with your life? 1 2 3 4 5 + Quantitative numerical data collected, which is easy to analyse and easy to compare with other results as no interpretation of the researcher is needed - Participants’ choices limited, so no in-depth information gathered, so researchers do not know why the participants rated themselves at a particular level Fixed choice response; (closed question) Are you male or female? (Please circle) Male Female + - Same strengths and weaknesses as above Open ended question; What do you think of the current issues facing England today? + In-depth qualitative data can be gathered as the participants can give reasons for their answer and explain themselves. This gives the participant freedom to write what they want and to gain their opinion - Researchers may interpret a participants’ answer in the wrong way or differently from how another researcher may interpret it. It is also harder to compare responses from open- ended questions because it is not quantitative data Interviews; You can have different types of interviews, including structured, where you pre-plan the questions you will ask, and only ask those questions to obtain responses, unstructured, where you do not plan the interview at all and let it flow freely or semi-structured, where you partially plan the questions but then let it flow naturally. These different types of interview all have their advantages and disadvantages. With structured interviews, you only obtain the information you have set out to obtain, but with unstructured, you can get lots of information which may not be completely relevant to what you are trying to find out.
  22. 22. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 22 Psychometric tests These are types of questionnaire that give a standardised measurement of a psychological variable i.e. they measure something about us in a controlled way. Types of questions When conducting a self-report, the researcher needs to consider what type of questions to ask: TYPE OF QUESTIONS STRENGTHS WEAKNESSES Rating or Likert scales: i.e. being asked to rate how you feel on a scale. Shows strength of opinion so yields more detail than yes/no answers. Response bias/ social desirability bias. Gives quantitative data so it’s easy to analyse statistically. We don’t know reasons for participants’ choices: no qualitative data are generated. Fixed choice responses: e.g. yes/no questions. Very easy to measure and quantify. The participants’ preferred response might not be available. A forced choice ‘yes/no’ means there is no ambiguous ‘don’t know’ option. Don’t know reasons for choices; again, no qualitative data are generated. Open ended questions: e.g. what do you think about football? Detailed responses allowing participants to express their thoughts. Qualitative data so harder to analyse or carry out stats test. Might be biased by the researcher’s interpretation. Example of a psychometric test: STRENGTHS OF PSYCHOMETRIC TESTS WEAKNESSES OF PSYCHOMETRIC TESTS It provides lots of quantitative data which is easy to analyse statistically. They often contain cultural bias especially in intelligence tests and also designer bias in favour of the creator’s viewpoint. It is easy to administer (give out) therefore a very large sample can be reached. There is a danger that labelling somebody as having a particular trait will encourage them to behave in that way (a self- fulfilling prophecy).
  23. 23. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 23 Reliability, Validity and Ethical Issues in Self-Report Testing and improving the reliability in self-report o Reliability is whether the measurement device is consistent. One way to check the reliability of a self-report method is to repeat the questionnaire or interview again at a later date using the same participants. Assuming no treatment has been given in between it should give similar results; this is known as test-retest reliability. In the case of an interview being repeated by 2 different interviewers this is known as inter-interviewer reliability. o The reliability of a questionnaire can be improved by ensuring all participants interpret the questions in the same way (e.g. “dinner” vs. “tea”) and that all relevant questions measure the same thing. The reliability of an interview can be improved by having all interviewers trained in a set procedure so that they all work in the same way. Testing and improving the validity in self-report o Validity (accuracy) is whether the measurement device measures what it is supposed to. One way to check this is to compare the current test with a previously established test on the same topic (E.g. compare your personality test with the Eysenck Personality Inventory). Your participants would take both tests and compare their scores; this is known as concurrent validity. o The validity of questionnaires and interviews can be improved by ensuring that the questions are clear and not ambiguous. Using ‘filler’ or ‘distracter’ questions to help hide the purpose of the questionnaire/interview therefore helps to reduce demand characteristics and social desirability bias. Ethics in self-report o In relation to self-report the main ethical guidelines to consider are those concerning confidentiality, protection from harm and the participants’ right to withdraw. If they do so they are also entitled to withdraw any data they may already have given.
  24. 24. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 24 Observations Type of observation Naturalistic Controlled Participant Explanation Participants’ behaviour recorded in their own environment Participants’ behaviour recorded in a situation created by the researcher Researcher pretends to be a participant to observe them Strengths High ecological validity, because they are in their own natural environment, and so won’t respond to demand characteristics or social-desirability bias due to high levels of control (as it isn’t highly controlled) Levels of control quite high, as the situation is manually created by the researcher, so therefore extraneous variables are controlled, so the observation is reliable, and can be repeated again in the same way (standardised procedure) Adds to richness of data, especially if they become a trusted member of the group, and is therefore high in validity. There could be access to data which is unobtainable by other methods, so more in- depth information is discovered. Weaknesses If participants realise they are being watched, they may respond to demand characteristics, making it less valid. As it is in the participants’ own environment, the environment is not controlled, and therefore will be harder to replicate. No manipulation of the IV (as it is not an experiment), so we cannot infer cause and effect. Participant is likely to know they are being observed because the situation is controlled, which could create demand characteristics or social-desirability bias, lowering the validity. The researcher could alter the group in some way when they join, lowering the validity. Observer-bias, because the observer is only recording what they want to see, or they could become emotionally involved with the group, and report observations in a subjective way.
  25. 25. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 25 As well as participant observation, there is non-participant observation, which is where the researcher is not part of the group, and observes them from outside of the group. There are two more different types of observation, which include; Covert observation: The researcher doesn’t inform the participants that they are being observed and doesn’t gain permission to study them. Overt observation: The researcher informs the participants that they are being observed and gains permission to study them. Event sampling: Recording behaviours every time a particular behaviour occurs.  + No behaviour is missed, so a full set of data is gathered  Difficult to record behaviour if many behaviours are displayed at once Time sampling: Recording behaviours at particular time intervals i.e. every minute.  + Less intensive as there aren’t many behaviours displayed at one time  - Behaviour that occurs outside of the time intervals cannot be recorded and are therefore missed Coding Schemes To carry out an observational study the researcher will need to use a coding scheme or behaviour checklist. This is a way of categorising behaviour so that it is easier to record every time your target behaviour occurs. For example, when observing ‘healthy food choices’ from the canteen this may be coded as fruit, water, jacket potatoes, etc. Coding schemes are simple and provide quantitative data, which can be analysed statistically. However, by only recording behaviours from the checklist the researcher may miss other important or interesting behaviours that happen. Observers can use either event sampling or time sampling to make structured observations. Event sampling involves making a recording (eg tick in a tally chart) every time a target behaviour is observed. This method involves concentration and intense observation of the subject at all times however it means that a full set of data is gathered. Time sampling involves making a recording at certain time intervals, for example every 30 seconds, about what the participant is doing. (E.g. Bandura, Ross & Ross). This method is less intensive, depending on the time intervals. However behaviour that happens outside of those times cannot be recorded and monitoring the time can be quite an effort.
  26. 26. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 26 Reliability, Validity and Ethical Issues Relating to Observations Testing and improving the reliability of observations o One way to test the reliability is to study the same participants on two separate occasions and compare the two sets of scores using a correlation coefficient (see correlation section). If it is high then your measure is reliable. This is known as test- retest reliability. An alternative would be to compare the ratings of two or more observers and checking for agreement in their measurements. If the observers agree on a high percentage of the observational recordings they make, then reliability is high. This is known as inter-rater reliability. o One way to improve the reliability of an observational study is to ensure that the categories on the behaviour checklist are clear and all observers are interpreting in the same way. Testing and improving the validity of observations o To test the validity of an observation, measure the same behaviour using a different method e.g. self-report, and then compare the results. The higher the correlation the higher the validity. This is known as concurrent validity. o One way to improve the validity of an observation is to conduct the same observation in varied settings with varied participants. Another way is to use a more detailed coding scheme or behaviour checklist. Ethics in observations o The main ethical issue when carrying out an observation is that it is difficult to gain the participants’ informed consent as they may then not behave naturally as they know that they are being observed. However this is sometimes possible with a controlled observation. In the case of a participant observation it may also be necessary to deceive the participants in order to maintain covert observation. o In addition it is ethical to carry out a naturalistic observation if participants are in a public place where they could reasonably expect strangers to be observing them. In this situation it would also be difficult to debrief participants.
  27. 27. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 27 Correlation Correlation Hypothesis Alternate hypothesis (two-tailed [non-directional]) – There will be a significant correlation between the … Null – There will be no significant correlation between the … One-tailed (directional) – There will be a significant positive/negative correlation between the … REMEMBER … correlations are NOT experiments, therefore you cannot say there will be a significant difference between … You cannot infer cause and effect, as one variable does not cause the other, and you do not isolate the IV to measure the effect of the DV. In effect, you have two variables which you measure, which may or may not have some sort of relationship. Positive Correlation Negative Correlation No Correlation Correlation refers to a descriptive statistical technique that measures how strongly two or more variables are related to each other: o A positive correlation means that high values of one variable are associated with high values of the other. Or, if you like, the variables increase together, for example children’s age and height. o A negative correlation means that high values of one variable are associated with low values of the other. Or, if you like, as one variable increases the other decreases. Note that like a positive correlation, a negative correlation still indicates that some kind of relationship exists, for example the value of a car and the number of miles on the clock. o If there is no correlation between two variables they are said to be uncorrelated. STRENGTHS WEAKNESSES Correlation can be used when an experiment would be unethical or impractical, as no manipulation is involved. A correlation does not imply cause and effect. For example there is a high positive correlation between the length of your left arm and right arm but one does not cause the other! Can be used as a type of pilot study. Correlations are easier and cheaper to carry out than experiments. If a correlation is found then it may be that further investigation is justified. There may be other variables that are causing the correlation e.g. if children’s shoe sizes are highly positively correlated with their Maths test score, does one cause the other? Or is another variable causing the Maths test score?
  28. 28. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 28 Data and analysis Quantitative and Qualitative data Qualitative data are pieces of information that cannot be counted, usually descriptions of feelings or behaviours. Sometimes this data can be converted to quantitative data and then analysed that way. o Gives a richer picture of the behaviour in question. o More time consuming and difficult to analyse and often takes longer to collect. Collecting both kinds of data is an advantage as each backs up the other. We can easily see trends from the quantitative data and also get other important details and descriptions from the qualitative data. All data must be analysed in order to draw conclusions from it. This section looks at the analysis of quantitative data. Quantitative data: Numerical information such as age, number of errors, hours spent watching TV, how attractive someone rates themselves out of 10. o Quick to collect and analyse o Can be considered reductionist as it does not give a full it does not give a full account of behaviour and meaning. Levels of data o Nominal data – a number of items in a category, e.g. the number of participants in a particular age group. o Ordinal data – This is data that can be ranked in order in some way, e.g. ranking 10 faces in order of attractiveness. o Interval data – data is measured in units with equal intervals such as degrees centigrade to measure temperature. o Ratio data – Similar to interval data but there is a true zero point (cannot ever be negative) for example centimetres to measure length or seconds to measure time. Descriptive Statistics There are 3 ways to describe or summarise quantitative data. These are measures of central tendency (mean, mode, median), measures of dispersion (range) and visual display (graphs).
  29. 29. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 29 Measures of central tendency (averages) and dispersion The ‘mean’ is calculated by adding up the scores for each condition and dividing by the number of scores that there are. The ‘median’ is the middle value in an ordered list (starting with the lowest score and placing them in ascending order). The ‘mode’ is the value that occurs most often. The ‘range’ refers to how much variation or dispersion there is in the data for each condition and adds extra information to the description of the data. The range is the highest value minus the lowest value. Visual display This may include scatter graphs, pie charts, bar charts etc. A bar chart is useful to display the difference between means (never use raw data in your bar chart), whereas a scattergram would be appropriate for a correlation. Inferential Statistics When you look at your descriptive data (means, graphs etc.) there will probably appear to be a difference in the DV for each condition. E.g., that more colour pictures were recalled than black and white ones. Can we assume that this is because of the colour they were printed in? If we are going to claim that the IV has caused the difference in the DV it is usual in psychology that we want to be at least 95% sure of it. This means that the probability that the difference was just caused by chance is less than 5%. This is written as p<0.05. It is known as the ‘5% significance level’. There are several types of tests that can be used to analyse quantitative data and the one you use will depend on the design you have used and the level of data you have collected. The statistical test you carry out will depend on several factors. The result of the test is compared against a number in a table called a critical value. This will tell you whether the difference you have observed in your dependent variable is probably due to the manipulation of your independent variable or whether it’s more likely to be due to chance factors. Independent Measures Design Repeated Measures Design Correlation Nominal Data (categories) Chi-squared Sign test N/A Ordinal Data (numbers) Mann Whitney Wilcoxon Spearman’s Rho
  30. 30. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 30 Statistical Tests (Non-parametric tests) Nominal data – involves data being in categories or frequencies (for example, frequency of how many said yes) Ordinal data – involves numbers that can be put in order but do not have any mathematical properties, like rating scales. It is like a ranking order (individual scores and not necessarily equal units) Interval data – involves using a scale that has equal intervals between the units (for example, minutes or seconds) Usually, in the paper, you will get a question asking you what statistical test you would use for the practical project you have designed and why. Make sure you tell the examiner the exact statistical test you would use, and tell them you would use it because your project uses either nominal or ordinal data and because it is either independent measures, repeated measures or a correlation study. This is all that you can say, and you do not need to tell them how you use the test!
  31. 31. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 31 Type 1 and type 2 errors In most circumstances we can accept he alternate hypothesis when there is a 5% probability that results occurred due to chance factors (and therefore 95% probability that results occurred due to real differences between the two conditions. However, we are dealing with probabilities and not absolute certainties. This means we can never be absolutely sure that our results mean what we think they mean. Even with a 5% probability that the results occurred sue to chance factors, we are only 95% certain. This means that sometimes we might accept the alternate hypothesis when actually the null hypothesis was true – a false positive. Conversely, there may be times when we reject the alternate hypothesis and accept the null hypothesis when actually the alternate hypothesis was true – a false negative. They are called type 1 and type 2 errors respectively. Type 1 error False positive Accept alternate hypothesis although really the null hypothesis was true. (Reject null hypothesis when actually it was true). Type 2 error False negative Accept null hypothesis although really the alternate hypothesis was true. (Accept null hypothesis was actually it was false).
  32. 32. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 32 Approaches, Perspectives, Debates and Issues in Psychology The following pages will help you with your revision for section B. However, be aware that you may get asked about research methods in section B too.
  33. 33. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 33 Section B exam questions Total marks available for section B = 40 marks. Time available = 45 minutes. If you work on a 1 mark per minute basis, this should leave 5 minutes for planning and checking answers. June 2013 Either Question 8 a) Briefly outline the nature-nurture debate in psychology. (4) b) Describe two pieces of research that support the nurture side of the nature-nurture debate in psychology. (8) c) Discuss the strengths and limitations of the behaviourist perspective to explain behaviour. Use examples from psychological research to support your answer. (12) d) Compare the behaviourist perspective with the physiological approach. Use examples from psychological research to support your answer. (8) e) Discuss the extent to which the behaviourist perspective supports the nurture side of the nature-nurture debate in psychology. (8) Or Question 9 a) Briefly outline the case study method in psychology. (4) b) Describe two pieces of psychological research that use the case study method. (8) c) Discuss the strengths and limitations of conducting research using the case study method. Use examples from psychological research to support your answer. (12) d) Compare the case study method with the observational method. Use examples from psychological research to support your answer. (8) e) Discuss the extent to which the case study method is holistic. (8) January 2013
  34. 34. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 34 June 2012
  35. 35. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 35 January 2012 June 2011 Either Question 8 a) Briefly outline the physiological approach to psychology. (4) b) Describe two pieces of research that use the physiological approach to psychology. (8) c) Discuss the strengths and limitations of using the physiological approach to explain behaviour. Use examples from psychological research to support your answer. (12) d) Compare the physiological approach with the cognitive approach. Use examples from psychological research to support your answer. (8) e) Discuss the usefulness of conducting research which is considered reductionist. (8)
  36. 36. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 36 Or Question 9 a) Briefly explain the self-report method used in psychology. (4) b) Describe two pieces of research that use the self-report method. (8) c) Discuss the strengths and limitations of using the self-report method to investigate behaviour. Use examples from psychological research to support your answer. (12) d) Compare the self-report method with the observational method. Use examples from psychological research to support your answer. (8) e) Discuss whether it is possible to conduct ethical research when using the self-report method. (8) January 2011 Either Question 8 a) Briefly outline the developmental approach to psychology. (4) b) Describe two pieces of research that use the developmental approach to psychology. (8) c) Discuss the strengths and limitations of using the developmental approach to explain behaviour. Use examples from psychological research to support your answer. (12) d) Compare the developmental approach with the psychodynamic perspective . Use examples from psychological research to support your answer. (8) e) Discuss how the developmental approach may provide evidence for the nature- nurture debate. (8) Or Question 9 a) Briefly outline what is meant by qualitative and quantitative data. (4) b) Describe two pieces of experimental research that collect quantitative data. (8) c) Discuss the strengths and limitations of conducting experimental research which produces quantitative data. Use examples from psychological research to support your answer. (12) d) Compare the experimental method with the self-report method. Use examples from psychological research to support your answer. (8) e) Discuss the usefulness of psychological research that collects qualitative data. (8)
  37. 37. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 37 June 2010 Either Question 8 a) Using your knowledge of psychology, briefly outline the social approach to psychology. (4) b) Describe two pieces of research that use the social approach to psychology. (8) c) Discuss the strengths and limitations of using the social approach to explain behaviour. Use examples from psychological research to support your answer. (12) d) Compare the social approach with the physiological approach. Use examples from psychological research to support your answer. (8) e) Discuss how the social approach provides a situational explanation of behaviour. (8) Or Question 9 a) Using your knowledge of psychology, briefly outline one ethical issue when conducting observational research. (4) b) Describe ethical issues raised by any two pieces of experimental research. (8) c) Discuss the strengths and limitations of conducting psychological research which raises ethical issues. Use examples from psychological research to support your answer. (12) d) Compare the experimental method with the observational method. Use examples from psychological research to support your answer. (8) e) Discuss whether it is possible to conduct psychological research that is completely ethical. (8) January 2010 Either Question 8 a) Using your knowledge of psychology, briefly outline the cognitive approach to psychology. (4) b) Describe two pieces of research that use the cognitive approach to psychology. (8) c) Discuss the strengths and limitations of using the cognitive approach to explain behaviour. Use examples from psychological research to support your answer. (12) d) Compare the cognitive approach with the behaviourist perspective. Use examples from psychological research to support your answer. (8) e) Discuss the features of the cognitive approach that support the view that psychology is a science. (8)
  38. 38. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 38 Or Question 9 a) Using your knowledge of psychology, briefly outline what is meant by ecological validity. (4) b) Describe examples of high ecological validity from any two pieces of psychological research. (8) c) Discuss the strengths and limitations of conducting psychological research where ecological validity is low. Use examples from psychological research to support your answer. (12) d) Compare the ecological validity of laboratory experiments with the ecological validity of field experiments. Use examples from psychological research to support your answer. (8) e) Discuss the usefulness of field experiments in psychology. (8) How to answer section B questions You will need to answer one of two questions. One observation I have made regarding the past papers, is that often, but not always, one set of questions will focus predominantly on approaches/perspectives/debates and the other option will focus predominately on methods and issues - Something to bear in mind for revision and choosing questions to play to your strengths. Each question will have 5 subparts and should take the following format. A. Briefly outline........ (4 marks) - This question will require you to simply outline the key features of one of the approaches/perspectives, a particular method used in psychology, explain what is meant by a particular issue or outline one of the debates. - Examples: - Briefly outline the nature-nurture debate in psychology. - Briefly outline what is meant by reliability in psychological research. B. Describe two pieces of research that.... (8 marks) - This question will require you to describe two pieces of research (these can be taken from the core studies (AS) or from your G543 topics). These pieces of research will need to relate to whatever the second part of the Q asks, e.g. a particular debate or research method. - Examples: - Describe two pieces of research that support the nurture side of the nature-nurture debate in psychology. - Describe two pieces of psychological research that use the case study method. C. Discuss the strengths and limitations of...... (12 marks)
  39. 39. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 39 - This question will require you to evaluate the strengths and limitations, (advantages and disadvantages) of a particular research method, approach, debate etc...) - You will also need to refer to psychological research in this answer. - Include at least 2 strengths and 2 limitations for top marks. - Examples: - Discuss the strengths and limitations of the behaviourist perspective to explain behaviour. Use examples from psychological research to support your answer. - Discuss the strengths and limitations of using ethnocentric research to explain behaviour. Use examples from psychological research to support your answer. D. Compare.................with ...................( 8 marks) - This question will require you to compare different methods, approaches perspectives etc... - You will also need to refer to examples of psychological research. - Depending on the question the comparison could come from the types of research methods used, the data produced, differences in validity/reliability. You should aim for at least 2 differences. - Examples: - Compare the behaviourist perspective with the physiological approach. Use examples from psychological research to support your answer. - Compare the case study method with the observational method. Use examples from psychological research to support your answer. E. Discuss......................(8 marks) - The question may combine the approaches, debates and methods. - The question does to ask you to use examples from psychological research but it may be useful to do so. - This question will require you to effectively evaluate whether or not a particular debate, issue, method etc... is able to do something, if the question asks for ‘the extent to which’ you should write at least 1 point which argues ‘yes’ and 1 which argues ‘no’. - Examples: - Discuss the extent to which the case study method is holistic. - E.g. argue yes case studies are holistic... and then, “on the other hand” case studies can also be argued to be reductionist because...” - Discuss the usefulness of psychological research that collects qualitative data. (8) - E.g Research that collects qualitative data is useful because.... however it is less useful because....
  40. 40. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 40 Approaches and Perspectives in Psychology An approach is a particular view as to why and how we think, feel and behave as we do. It is an area of research characterised by a particular focus or a particular set of themes, outlooks or types of explanation. There are five you need to know about: 1. Cognitive 2. Physiological/biological 3. Individual differences 4. Developmental 5. Social A perspective is slightly different from an approach. Usually a perspective is more a way of explaining behaviour, according to certain principles, concepts and ideas. Whereas the approaches listed above refer more to areas of research interest (regardless of the perspective adopted). There are two perspectives you need to know about: 1. The behaviourist perspective 2. The psychodynamic perspective For each approach/perspective you will need to be able to give a short description, the strengths and weaknesses of the approach/perspective as well as at least two examples of research that use the approach/perspective.
  41. 41. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 41 The Cognitive approach This approach concerns the mind and mental processes, how we think (rationally and irrationally), solve problems, and how we perceive information, how we use and make sense of language; how and why we remember and forget. The main assumption of the cognitive approach is that how we think is central in explaining how we behave and how we respond to different people and different situations. The cognitive approach often adopts experimental research methods. The computer analogy In some ways the cognitive approach sees a human as rather like a complicated computer – information enters the mind (input), it is processed and stored, and it is sometimes used again later (output) through remember or responding to a situation. Examples of the cognitive approach 1. The Loftus and Palmer study on memory shows how memory is not necessarily a perfect record of an event, but can be influenced by information after the event. Participants who were asked ‘How fast was the car going when it smashed...?’ were twice as likely to believe they had seen broken glass (when there was none) than those who were not asked the question. This study highlights the complex processes humans use to store and combine sensory inputs. 2. The Ost and Westling study on the effectiveness of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) shows how therapy which focuses on confronting faulty thought processes can be useful in treating panic disorders. The patients in this study were treated over a 12 week period and results revealed a significant reduction in the number of panic attacks in patients who were also panic free at their follow up sessions. This study demonstrates that psychological disorders may arise due to irrational thinking, as therapy that helps change these thought processes reduces the symptoms of the disorder.
  42. 42. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 42 Strengths Weaknesses Tends to use laboratory experiments, which are highly controlled and objective, so the independent variable can be isolated and manipulated to measure the effect on the dependent variable, as there are no extraneous variables, which means cause and effect can be established. For example, Loftus’ experiment into weapon focus uses a laboratory experiment with a standardised procedure, and an experimental group (gun) and control group (cheque) are the IV and the DV is measured by a questionnaire and by eye fixation data, so cause and effect can be inferred. As laboratory experiments are often used, research is low in ecological validity, because the situation is too controlled, and therefore doesn’t relate to everyday life, so we need to be careful when generalising the results. For example, Dement and Kleitman’s research into REM sleep and brain activity on dream content, where the participants had to sleep in a laboratory, and were continuously woken up by a doorbell throughout the night, and had electrodes attached to their scalp and eye lids. This is not representative of how a person normally sleeps, so we cannot be sure they got a normal night’s sleep and that they dreamt how they would usually. It is not normal for a person to be woken up at regular intervals either and may have been hard for them to sleep with electrodes attached to them. Great application to real-life, and research has had a big influence on everyday life in the real world. For example, Fisher’s cognitive interview showed that the cognitive interview elicits much more information than normal interview techniques. Can be low in validity, because participants may guess the aim and respond to demand characteristics or social-desirability bias, because of the levels of control, and therefore we cannot be sure we are measuring what we are supposed to be measuring, if the participants are not showing their true unbiased behaviour in the situation. For example, in Loftus and Palmer’s experiment, the participants could have guessed the aim and changed their speed estimate to suit the independent variable of the verb. The cognitive approach provides effective therapies, supporting the assumption that people’s problems are due to faulty or irrational thinking that can be remedied. For example, Meichenbaum’s stress inoculation therapy uses cognitive therapy to change the person’s thinking patterns to overcome their stress, and to tackle the situation. Reductionist and deterministic. The approach simplifies complex human behaviour to a person’s thoughts, ignoring other factors such as a person’s social situation (friends) and their biology. It also assumes that a person’s problems can be solved by changing the way a person thinks when in fact the problem could be much deeper and involve an interaction of factors to overcome it. For example, Waxler-Morrison demonstrated the importance of support networks in relieving stress and combatting cancer.
  43. 43. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 43 The physiological/biological approach This approach concerns the physiological or biological aspects of humans and how they affect our behaviour, thought patterns and emotional responses. The key assumption is that all behaviour has a genetic basis, and is therefore influenced by our DNA, genes and biological molecules. In a way, this approach sees humans as complicated machines, with biological processes, such as hormone release and brain activity, governing our behaviour. Equally the body and brain are altered by our experience of the world. Therefore, while much physiological research looks at how the body determines behaviour, there is also research which looks at how our experiences shape our brain development and so on. Research examples for the physiological/biological approach 1. The Dement and Kleitman study shows how the physiology of the brain in terms of patterns of brain waves, is linked to the physiological experience of sleep. In particular, the periods of rapid eye movement (REM) – characterised also by a fast, active brain pattern and very low muscle tension – are associated with a person’s experience of dreaming. In fact, the pattern of the eye movements often matched the reported content of a person’s dream. 2. The Raine et al study shows, using PET scans of the brain, that there are differences in the brain activity between murders (pleading not guilty by reason of insanity – NGRI) and non-murders. These differences include less activity in the frontal lobe and the amygdala. This study demonstrates a biological component which may be the cause of anti- social behaviour.
  44. 44. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 44 Strengths Weaknesses Very scientific and objective, and often uses laboratory experiments, with high levels of control. The independent variable is isolated and manipulated to measure the effect on the dependent variable, so cause and effect can be inferred. Very reductionist, as the approach simplifies complex human behaviour down to one simple factor. It ignores the interaction of elements, such as the environment, causing human behaviour, and simply explains behaviour as a result of our biology. For example, Brunner’s study into a family in the Netherlands who had slight mental retardation and who showed violent behaviour, simply looked at a urine sample and found they had a deficit of an enzyme which caused a rare disorder, but they ignore other factors, such as the environment and how their upbringing could have affected their behaviour. As it uses laboratory experiments and high levels of control, there is often a standardised procedure with highly scientific equipment, so the approach is very reliable, as we can check for consistency by repeating it. For example, Maguire’s study into the effect of the number of years of knowing the knowledge on the size of the hippocampi of the brain. The study used highly scientific equipment of MRI scanners which looked at the structure of the brain, so they were able to come to this conclusion. Very deterministic, the approach assumes that all behaviour is determined by biological factors. For example Raine et al showed that Murders pleading NGRI had fundamental differences in their brain activity compared to non-murders. If the biological approach argues that biological factors cause our behaviour this also implies there is no free will. This would have serious implications for our criminal justice system as no free will would indicate that people cannot control their own behaviour and ergo are not at fault for their criminal behaviour. Supports the nature side of the nature/nurture debate, and provides good strong evidence for ‘psychology is a science’, as scientific methods are used. For examples standardised procedures which can be replicated. Research tends to be low in ecological validity, as the situation and task is too controlled (low mundane realism) and therefore does not reflect everyday life, so it is difficult to generalise the findings. There could also be demand characteristics or social-desirability bias because of the high levels of control, making it less valid. For example, the study conducted by Sperry, who looks at the brains of split-brain patients. He makes the patients look at things with one eye covered, so information is only going to one hemisphere of the brain. This is not representative of everyday life, as we use both eyes so information goes to both sides of the brain. However, he wanted to be simplistic to find out more information on the roles of each hemisphere and what a person can do in different situations (ie, being able to pick out an object).
  45. 45. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 45 The individual differences approach This approach is concerned with the differences between people (rather than the things we might have in common), particularly in terms of personality and abnormality. One of the assumptions of this approach is that there are differences between the people of any group. In terms of their personal qualities, the ways in which they respond to situations, their behaviour and so on, and that it is examining these differences that is the most revealing. Some research within the approach has focused on trying to measure these differences, for example through the use of psychometric tests such as IQ tests or personality tests. Some research has tried to categorise and identify different types of abnormality. The key assumption of the individual differences approach is that to understand the complexity of human behaviour, it is necessary to study the differences between people, from looking at the unique characteristics of the individual, rather than by looking at the similarities between people. Research examples for the individual differences approach 1. The study by Thigpen and Cleckley aimed to describe a specific disorder – multiple personality disorder (MPD). In a case study, the researchers outline Eves different personalities, how they each revealed themselves to the therapists, and the more objective tests (e.g. IQ tests, memory tests, EEG) that were undertaken in order to investigate whether or not Eve did in fact have multiple, separate personalities. This study clearly used the individual differences approach as the researchers carried out over 100 hours’ worth of in depth interviews for a period of 14 months, in order to truly get to grips with the unique characteristics of Eve’s personalities and behaviours. 2. Daly and Wilson looked at differences between males and females crime rates and proposed that the reason why males are more likely to commit crimes is their evolutionary histories – as hunter-gatherers, risk- takers were perhaps more likely to survive and procreate.
  46. 46. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 46 Strengths Weaknesses Many useful applications to real life and allows us to understand human behaviour as we can find causes for some disorders. For example, Rosenhan’s study led to the improvement of people’s lives who had mental health disorders, as they changed the way that they diagnosed and treated them, as they found out that ‘labelling’ could have serious effects with their health, as the label stayed with them forever, even if they didn’t relapse. As case studies are used, there are very few participants, and therefore we cannot really generalise the findings to other people/groups, especially as it is to do with individual differences – people experience different symptoms, etc. Therefore, we can question if it is useful to real life, because the symptoms are so wide-ranging. For example, Freud’s case study on Little Hans is individual, and his problems reflect his experiences. His phobia of a horse which reflected his phobia of his dad is unique, and it is unlikely someone else would have this exact problem because they would have different experiences and a different upbringing, so we can’t generalise the results to other people. Compared to most other approaches, the individual differences approach is much more holistic as it considers the whole persona and a variety of factors that could drive their behaviour. The approach also uses a variety of methods to come to a conclusion, as well as using qualitative and quantitative data. It does not simplify any complex disorder down to its phenomenon. For example, in Thigpen and Cleckley’s study, they are not reductionist in any way, and look at her experiences from the past, her cognitive side (from the interviews), and her mental side. Tend to use case study method to gain a more holistic approach, which sticks to looking at one person at a time. However, the researchers in the case study can become too emotionally attached with the individual, which could bias the findings and cause other problems, to do with the ethics of the study. For example, was Eve’s case of MPD real or was she just a good actor? There is use of both quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative data is obtained from psychometric tests, where differences between personalities and other traits can be found between people. This provides data which is easy to analyse and compare, and is objective. The approach tends to rely on dispositional explanations rather than situational ones. It explains individual differences as resulting from a person’s own characteristics and ignores the situation a person is in. For example, the behaviour of the pseudopatients in Rosenhan’s study was misinterpreted as being part of the illness (constant writing, and trying to get out hospital) when in fact it was a result of the hospital environment and the fact that they weren’t real patients. This shows that they assume people experience similar symptoms and that it is down to the illness, and not the environment.
  47. 47. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 47 The developmental approach This approach is concerned with how we change as we age and mature - in particular, how we change cognitively and socially. Much of the research has focussed on the changes within childhood, as this is the fastest period of change in a person’s life. Increasingly, however, over the last two decades, psychology has recognised he life-span approach and acknowledged the changes (social and cognitive) that continue to take place throughout all stages of adulthood. One key assumption of this approach is that events happen to us early in life can have a long-term effect on the course of our development. Another assumption is that people of the same age share much in common, in terms of cognitive abilities, social issues and so on. Key assumptions: 1. All behaviour in adulthood is affected by experiences in childhood. 2. Changes occur over a person’s lifetime as a result of inherited factors or lifetime experiences (both nature and nurture). Research examples for the developmental approach The Samuel and Bryant study investigated conservation, a key cognitive ‘marker’ showing whether a child has progressed from Piaget’s ‘pre- operational’ stage to the ‘operational’ stage of thought (i.e. a more logical stage). This study focused on cognitive development. In particular, it investigated how aspects of the procedure (asking the key question once or twice) can affect children’s ability to show that they can conserve. This study supported a broadly Piagetian and developmental approach because it found that, in general older children were less likely to make mistakes on conservation tasks of all types. Kohlberg’s study into moral development in children was also heavily influenced by Piaget’s stages of development. Kohlberg’s theory identified three levels of morality that children will progress through. Younger children (boys in the study aged 10) were more likely to operate at the pre-morality stage whereby their moral behaviours were motivated by fear of punishment. Older children (boys in study aged 16) were more likely to operate at the post- convention morality stage whereby their moral behaviours were motivated by doing what is right to be ‘good’.
  48. 48. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 48 Strengths Weaknesses Often studies behaviour over a long period of time, and therefore uses a longitudinal study. The development of a person or a group of people can be studied, without the issue of individual differences, because the same person is being followed. This provides in- depth rich qualitative data of one person over a period of time. For example, Farrington looks at offending behaviour of boys from the age of 8 to 48 and comes to conclusions about offending, such as the chances of a person reconvicting if they start offending at a younger age than someone else. Research in this area provides us with an understanding of how humans develop and change over the whole of their lifetime, and can influence everyday life, such as education. For example, Samuel and Bryant’s study into the age at which children can conserve has changed education in terms of how teachers teach children and what methods they use to teach them. It is difficult to replicate longitudinal studies, as it is expensive and extremely time-consuming. Therefore, they are not reliable, because they cannot be repeated in the same way to check for consistent results. It would be hard to replicate Farrington’s study because he looks at people for 40 years of their life, so it would be very time consuming and also very unreliable, because there is absolutely no way it could be repeated in the same way as the original study. In order to investigate the development of behaviour over time longitudinal studies need to be conducted. However, this is not always possible because there are high attrition rates, as people may drop out or die. For example, Yochelson and Samenow looked at the criminal thinking patterns of criminals, and of the 255 criminals, only 30 completed the programme. This shows how longitudinal studies can be a problem because of these high attrition rates. Some studies under the developmental approach have very limited samples, from which researchers want to generalise results from. The approach looks for general patterns of development based on non-representative samples. For example, Freud tries to generalise the findings from the case study of Little Hans’ and he assumes that all children go through the psychosexual stages. They can also be ethnocentric, as they only look at children from one area/culture, and try to generalise the findings to other cultures, when the traditions and values are different in other place. For example, some children work instead of getting an education at a young age. For example, Samuel and Bryant generalise their findings to other cultures about conservation, when the research was only based on children from one town in the UK and therefore ignores cultural differences in regards to how children may learn differently in different parts of the World. Very deterministic, as it assumes that all children go through the same stages. For example, Freud with psychosexual stages. Samuel and Bryant with stages of conservation. Piaget assumed younger children do not have the ability to think in the same way as older children.
  49. 49. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 49 The social Approach Areas of particular interest for the social approach include interpersonal attraction and relationships, prejudice and discrimination, and group dynamics (including conformity, obedience and minority influence). It focuses in particular on how the individual behaves within these social situations. The social approach argues that when we are looking for an explanation of why someone behaved in certain a way, we should look at the context of their situation rather than the individual as a person. This lends itself towards the situational side of the individual-situational debate. Research examples for the social approach The Piliavin et al. study belongs to the social approach because it shows how an individual’s decision whether or not to help is a function of the social situation and his her perception of that situation. The researchers found that the ill ‘victim’ (cane condition) was helped more frequently and more rapidly than the drunken ‘victim’ in the study on the subway. If the emergency continued and the victim was not helped, people were more likely to say something to the observer or leave the immediate area of the emergency (the ‘critical area’). Piliavin et al. explained these findings in terms of a ‘model or response to an emergency situation’. This model makes the interesting claim that our decision to help or not is a function of wanting to reduce anxiety (‘psychological arousal’) produced by witnessing an emergency. Various factors have an effect on the level of arousal. The higher the arousal, the more a bystander is motivated to do something in order to relieve this anxiety. Physical proximity to the emergency, empathy with the victim, presence of other helping people and perceived costs versus rewards of helping were all situational factors that could result in the individual’s decision of whether or not to help. This study therefore illustrates how an individual does not make an isolated decision to help; rather his or her individual perceptions of the social situation govern their behaviour. The Waxler-Morrison et al. conducted a quasi-experiment in which 133 women diagnosed with breast cancer (under the age of 55) completed a questionnaire to obtain demographic and psychosocial data such as how many dependents they had, how many friends etc. Clinical factors were taken from the patients’ medical records by a clerk. Survival was calculated from the time of diagnosis. Finally 18 patients underwent detailed unstructured interviewed to fully understand the effects of the psychosocial factors. This study clearly belongs to the social approach because it showed that survival rates for breast cancer were significantly associated with social support networks such as being married, having support and contact with friends and amount of practical help.
  50. 50. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 50 Strengths Weaknesses The approach often uses real life situations to study the social context of situations. Therefore, the social approach is often high in ecological validity, as the results relate to everyday life, and can be generalised to other situations. For example, Piliavin’s study was a field experiment, which had high ecological validity as it was set in the participant’s natural environment on the New York subway. Therefore, the participants wouldn’t have known they were being studied, and couldn’t have responded to demand characteristics or social-desirability bias in terms of helping behaviour. The social approach often conducts research during which participants are observed covertly. Thus there are major ethical consequences as the participants cannot give their consent. They also are not given the right to withdraw because they do not know they are being studied in the first place. In some social approach studies, the participants are subjected to psychological harm and physiological harm. For example, in Milgram’s experiment, the participants are told they have the right to withdraw but the experimenter technically doesn’t allow them to. The participant could experience harm in some way, because some of them shocked people at a rate that would kill a person many times and may not have thought they would be able to do this. This approach tends to look at very relevant and useful situations, and look at how a person’s behaviour can be influenced. This has helped to improve many issues. For example, Waxler-Morrison’s study on social networks influencing breast cancer survival shows how important social networks are in enhancing a woman’s life and enabling them to cope better. As field experiments are often used, the participant is in their own environment, but there is a lack of control in the study, so extraneous variables cannot be controlled. Therefore, the studies are not that reliable because they cannot be repeated in exactly the same way. There is no completely controlled standardised procedure. Consequently, research from the social approach may not support psychology as a science. Very reductionist and deterministic. It simplifies complex human behaviour by only looking at situational factors such as the environment. It ignores factors such as the physiological side of things, and also ignores cognitive factors, because someone could have a cognitive problem or physiological problem (ie, downsyndrome) which causes them to act differently in social situations. It is deterministic because it assumes that people will act in accordance to the situation, and change their behaviour yet this does not always happen. For example in Milgram’s research, 35% of participants refused to obey to 450V and therefore were acting independently.
  51. 51. G544: Approaches and research methods in psychology Revision Booklet 51 The behaviourist perspective The key assumption of the behaviourist perspective is that all behaviour is learned. Behaviourist psychologists argue that all of our experiences in life lead to some kind of learning. They are interested in only studying directly observerable and measurable behaviour; consequently the research methods for this perspective usually involve laboratory experiments with observations. There are three sub-strands of behaviourism: classical conditioning, operant conditioning and social learning theory (SLT). Classical conditioning: Learning by association  Watson and Raynor used classical conditioning to teach Little Albert to fear a white rat. o Little Albert was shown a white rat (NS), to which Albert was unfazed (NR) o Albert was presented with a loud noise (UCS) to which he showed fear and cried (UCR) o Albert was presented with the loud noise (UCS) at the same time as being shown the white rat (NS) to which he stilled showed fear and cried (UCR) o Eventually the white rat on its own became associated with the loud noise and thus became the conditioned stimulus (CS) to which Albert produced the conditioned response (CR): fear/crying. Operant conditioning: Learning through consequences  The process of learning here is through reinforcement.  In simple terms, if the consequences of our behaviour are good then we are likely to repeat that behaviour, and if the consequences of our behaviour are bad or neutral we are less likely to repeat that behaviour.  Positive reinforcement o The addition of a stimulus increases behaviour o Imagine a boy could Fred having a tantrum in a supermarket because he wants some sweets. If his Mother buys the sweets, Fred has learnt that in order to get sweets he must have a tantrum and this behaviour is positively reinforced and is likely to be repeated in the future.  Negative reinforcement o The removal of a stimulus from the environment. o Imagine Fred’s Mother is in the supermarket and her son (Fred) is having a tantrum, this causes her to feel embarrassed, so she gives in and buys Fred his sweets. The Mother has learnt that in order to get rid of her embarrassment and the annoyance of her crying son, she must buy the sweets, so this behaviour is negatively reinforced and is likely to be repeated in the future.  Punishment o The addition of a negative stimulus to the environment. o Imagine Fred having his tantrum, if his Mother decides to take away his favourite toy for his poor behaviour then Fred learns not to repeat the behaviour in the future.

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