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  • 1. PSYCHOLOGY DEPARTMENT AS Psychology (AQA, A) Research Methods Workbook
  • 2. The following pages deal with most of the Research Methods topics. You should complete all the Moodle activities, together with all the questions in this booklet in order to be properly prepared for all your Psychology exams. Research Methods Methods and techniques Candidates will be expected to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the following research methods, their advantages and weaknesses: • Experimental method, including laboratory, field and natural experiments • Studies using a correlational analysis • Observational techniques • Self-report techniques including questionnaire and interview • Case studies Investigation design Candidates should be familiar with the following features of investigation design: • Aims • Hypotheses, including directional and non-directional • Experimental design (independent groups, repeated measures and matched pairs) • Design of naturalistic observations, including the development and use of behavioural categories • Design of questionnaires and interviews • Operationalisation of variables, including independent and dependent variables • Pilot studies • Control of extraneous variables • Reliability and validity • Awareness of the British Psychological Society (BPS) Code of Ethics • Ethical issues and ways in which psychologists deal with them • Selection of participants and sampling techniques, including random, opportunity and volunteer sampling • Demand characteristics and investigator effects Data analysis and presentation Candidates should be familiar with the following features of data analysis, presentation and interpretation: • Presentation and interpretation of quantitative data including graphs, scattergrams and tables • Analysis and interpretation of quantitative data. Measures of central tendency including median, mean, mode. Measures of dispersion including ranges and standard deviation • Analysis and interpretation of correlational data. Positive and negative correlations and the interpretation of correlation coefficients • Presentation of qualitative data • Processes involved in content analysis 2
  • 3. Quantitative and qualitative research methods Research methods are the ways that psychologists investigate a theory. Different methods will be appropriate for different topics/theories/situations. Research provides two types of data, Quantitative and Qualitative; each has to be presented and analysed using different techniques. Quantitative data is it is usually is presented using graphs and analysed using statistics. Qualitative data is It is presented using quotes, pictures, videos, written observations and typed transcripts. It is analysed using content analysis. Content analysis: Decide upon themes and categories that might emerge. Often this will link to behaviour but it may also link such things as appearance or even feelings. To help analysis a coding system can be created, for example using words such as ‘hit’, themes such as ‘anti- social behaviour’, and feelings such as ‘fear, stress, and happiness’. This can give an in depth picture of the area of study, which is an advantage, but can also be prone to subjectivity thus may be less reliable than Quantitative analysis, and possibly suffer from researcher bias. 3 Complete the following question: A psychologist carried out a field experiment to investigate the accuracy of eyewitness testimony. The participants were pupils and parents attending a school concert. Just before the concert began, two professional actors had an argument on the stage. During the argument, one actor pushed the other actor. Both actors then left the stage. Some of the audience were approached as they left the concert and were asked to take part in an experiment. Those who agreed were taken to a quiet room and were asked some questions about the argument. For some participants, the questions included, “Did you see the man in glasses push the other man?” In fact, neither man was wearing glasses. The participants were then asked to describe the argument in their own words. The psychologist applied content analysis to each participant’s description of the argument. One behavioural category the psychologist selected was “pushing”. Suggest one other relevant behavioural category the psychologist could select. Explain how the content analysis could be carried out. (1 mark + 3 marks)
  • 4. Ethical Issues All psychological research has to be carried out in line with a code of ethics, as published by the Psychological Society. In Britain this is the British Psychological Society or BPS. This code is written with the wellbeing of participants and the reputation of the BPS in mind. There are nine different aspects that relate to human participants, the main aspects are related to consent, deception, debriefing, withdrawal, confidentiality and protection. There is a separate code of ethics in relation to research with non-human animal participants, this is generally related to the protection from harm and is used together with specific government guidelines and laws. Both codes were written after some of the most infamous research had been carried out, so some ‘early’ research may raise more ethical issues than later research. Make your own booklet for ethical issues – use pictures where you can. • Consent • Deception • Debriefing • Withdrawal • Confidentiality • Protection of participants Camels dance daily with confident pride 4
  • 5. Pilot Study A small scale study conducted on a small sample before the main study in order to test the proposed methodology and to iron out any possible problems with the sampling method, design, instructions to participants, and choice of stimulus materials and so on, anything that may act as a confounding variable by effecting the DV. A pilot study may also help identify any ethical issues. 5 Complete the exam question (taken from a past paper) below: A researcher carried out an experiment to investigate misleading information. Participants were shown a photograph in which a man and a woman were talking. The photograph was then taken away and the participants were asked questions about it. Participants were randomly allocated to condition one or condition two. Participants in condition one were asked: Question A “How old was the youth in the photograph?” Participants in condition two were asked: Question B “How old was the man in the photograph?” Explain why it would be appropriate to use a pilot study as part of this experiment. (4 marks)
  • 6. Research Methods You are expected to be familiar with the main research methods used in psychology. This includes being able to describe each method, knowing how it differs from the other methods and when each should be used. You need to know at least two advantages and two disadvantages of each method, in the exam you will have to apply this knowledge to stimulus questions. Complete this table using your text book to help you. Method Description/use Advantages Disadvantages Laboratory Experiment Field Experiment Natural (or Quasi) Experiment Natural Observation 6
  • 7. Method Description/Use Advantages Disadvantages Questionnaire Interview Case study An in depth analysis of one person or situation which may use many different methods of data collection, sometimes over a long period of time. They can produce both qualitative, and quantitative data. o Produces rich, detailed data o Can study a topic it may be unethical/impossibl e to study via an experiment o Permits study over time. o Results cannot be generalised o No control over extraneous variables o Researcher bias may be a problem. Correlational Methods A study which measures the relationship between two variables. o o 7
  • 8. Aims & Hypotheses All research will have an Aim: An aim is a general statement of why the study is being carried out, and a hypothesis: Hypotheses: In psychology a hypothesis is: • A clear statement • A prediction – what WILL happen • Testable – worded so IV and DV are clear • Formulated at the beginning of the research process Psychologists start with a theory which is a general idea about a specific behaviour and then develop a hypothesis which makes the theory testable. E.g: A theory, popular in the 1960s, claimed that if we rehearse material by repeating it, it is more securely stored, can be more easily passed into LTM and is therefore easier to access and recall later. A development of this idea stated that simple repetition was not the most effective way of securing items in the memory store. It is more effective if ideas are chunked together and meaningful links are made. For example if Participants were asked to recall a set of words including the words ‘chocolate’ and ‘strawberry’ those who visualized a chocolate coated strawberry were more likely to recall the words. A hypothesis to test the idea might be: Ps will correctly recall more words in a memory test after learning a list of words by image-linking than Ps who learn the same words via simple rehearsal. Try writing a hypothesis for the following theories: a) Students remember more information if they revise listening to Mozart than when listening to Manic Street Preachers. b) Consuming alcohol affects your reactions c) Women drivers obey traffic laws more often than male drivers. Remember: hypotheses do not: Include an explanation e.g. P will recall words from a list by using image-linking because…Try not to use imprecise terms e.g. memory will be better when using visualisation (what exactly is better?). 8
  • 9. Directional and non-directional (one tailed or two tailed) hypotheses A hypothesis can be directional or non-directional. This refers to whether the hypothesis states the direction in which the results of the study will go. A non-directional hypothesis (also called two-tailed) states that there will be a difference between results, but not what that difference will be e.g. there will be a difference between the number of words recalled from a list in a memory test between Ps asked to use repetition and Ps asked to use image-linking to remember words. A directional hypothesis (also called one-tailed) states that there will be a difference between two results and predicts the difference e.g. Ps who use image-linking to learn a list of words in a memory test will correctly recall a greater number of words than Ps who use repetition to learn the same words. A directional hypothesis is chosen when past research has indicated the probably direction of the results; a non-directional hypothesis is chosen when there has not been any research in the area, or there is conflicting evidence. 1. Pupils studying AS Level Psychology are much happier than those studying AS Physics. D/ND 2. There will be a significant difference between the number of times male and female drivers fail to stop at a red light. D/ND 3. People who eat only brown bread score more highly on IQ tests than people who eat only white bread. D/ND 4. Ps will have a slower reaction time on a computer ‘beat-em-up’ game after consuming one unit of alcohol. D/ND 5. There will be a difference between the number of Art students and the number of Law students rated as ‘extrovert’ on Eysenk’s personality test. D/ND 6. Smokers will cough more times when asked to sit in silence, than non-smokers. D/ND NB the term ‘experimental hypothesis’ should only be used when using the experimental method, otherwise the term ‘alternative hypothesis’ should be used. 9
  • 10. Null hypothesis The null hypothesis is written alongside the main hypothesis in order to make the scientific prediction complete. A null hypothesis predicts that any differences or similarities between the sets of results in an experiment are due to chance alone. As psychologists, we must accept that we can never rule out the possibility that any results gained in an investigation may be simply due to chance. This possibility is tested using inferential statistics (covered in A2). It is therefore necessary to have a null hypothesis alongside the main hypothesis in order to make the scientific prediction complete’ Should analysis of data indicate that results are not statistically significant a researcher must reject the experimental (or alternate) hypothesis and accept the null hypothesis. An example: There will be no difference in the reaction time taken to press a button upon seeing a green square on the computer screen (measured in milliseconds) before consumption of three units of alcohol and after consumption of three units of alcohol. Any difference in results is due to chance alone. Write a null hypothesis to match the following hypotheses: a. Ps who learn a list of unrelated words whilst listening to classical music will recall more of the words in a memory test than Ps who learn the words in silence. b. There will be a difference in the number of Year 12 and the number of Year 13 students who look at the answer paper of a Psychology test when the teacher leaves the room. c. Children who do not form an attachment before the age of two are at risk of social delinquency 10
  • 11. d. Ps will remember information presented visually and information presented acoustically differently. Independent & Dependent Variables In psychology we talk about these variables as the independent (IV) and dependent variables (DV). IV = …………………………………………………………………………………………………………. DV = ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Extraneous variables are…………………………………………………………………………………. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….... Confounding variables are.………..…………………………………………………………………..… ………………………………………………………………………………………………………..…….. How can extraneous variables be controlled? …………………………………………………………. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………..…….. Use one of Loftus’ studies from your text book find the IV and DV from an experiment into eyewitness testimony. Study (Brief outline to identify): ………………………………………………………………………….. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. IV = ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… DV = ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 11
  • 12. Knowledge of the IV and the DV will help you to write a prediction of what will happen in a study – the hypothesis Operationalise the variables An explanation/definition must be provided in order to remove any potential ambiguities. These definitions are referred to as operationalisations, and the process of creating them is known as operationalising the variables. To operationalise a variable or a concept means to define the variable/concept so that it can be measured or expressed quantitatively or qualitatively. Choosing which variables/concepts to explicitly define in a written assessment is always a judgment call. Operationalise: To define a concept or variable so that it can be measured and/or expressed quantitatively or qualitatively. Operationalisation: The process of putting something into operation; also, the process of expressing something in operational terms. 12 Complete the following exam question (taken from a past paper): A researcher investigated the effect of age of starting day care on levels of aggression. Four-year-old children attending a day nursery were used. Each child was assessed by the researcher and given an aggression score. A high score indicated a high level of aggression. A low score indicated a low level of aggression. The maximum score was 50. Table 1 Mean aggression scores for four-year- old children who had started day care before the age of two or after the age of two Started day care before the age of two Started day care after the age of two Mean score 25 23 a) Identify the operationalised independent variable and the operationalised dependent variable in this study. (2 marks + 2 marks)
  • 13. Sometimes operationalisation reduces the overall meaning of what is being studied. For example if aggression was operationalised as ‘hitting, pushing and kicking’ this overlooks many other behaviours that could be considered aggressive. Identify the IV and DV and direction of the hypothesis for the following: 1. There is a difference in the ability of grey and white rats in learning to run a maze. IV - DV - Directional or non-directional – D/ND Re write with change of direction – 2. People are more likely to make a risky decision when they are in a group than when they are alone. IV - DV - Directional or non-directional – D/ND Re write with change of direction – 3. First children learn to speak earlier than second and subsequent children. IV - DV - Directional or non-directional – D/ND Re write with change of direction – 4. A baby under 6 months of age will not show stranger anxiety. IV - DV - Directional or non-directional – D/ND Re write with change of direction – 5. Men drive faster than women. IV - DV - Directional or non-directional – D/ND Re write with change of direction – 6. Bulls will charge more often when presented with a red rag than a blue rag. 13
  • 14. IV - DV - Directional or non-directional – D/ND Re write with change of direction – Change the hypothesis Take three of the hypotheses from the previous six and write a null hypothesis for them: Is the above a correct or incorrect demonstration of an operationalised hypothesis? Factors associated with evaluation of research studies Complete the table with the definitions and then answer these questions on next page. 14
  • 15. It is vital that you know these terms and use them in an appropriate and relevant fashion in your writing. It does not automatically follow that a reliable method will be valid. Try the following questions to see this. THE’ PSYCHOMEASURE’ INTELLIGENCE TEST For only £25 (plus P & P) you can have the equipment to measure the intelligence of your friends, employees, teachers etc. Easy to use and quick to analyse the PSYCHOMEASURE offers the ideal alternative to time consuming IQ tests. All you have to do is to place the PSYCHOMEASURE around the forehead of the subject and read of the intelligence score. This test has been used to show that without doubt men are generally on average much more intelligent than women! Why don’t you buy one and astound your friends! 1. Which of the following statements best describes the PSYCHOLMEASURE INTELLIGENCE TEST? Put a tick against your answer. a) The test is reliable and valid ____ b) The test is reliable but not valid ____ c) The test is valid but not reliable ____ d) The test is neither reliable or valid ____ 2. Describe ONE way that you could assess the reliability of the PSYCHOMEASURE test. Validity Population validity T Temporal validity Internal validity (inside the experiment/research) Ecological/ External validity (outside the experiment/research) (These terms can be used interchangeably.) Reliability Internal reliability The consistency of a measure within the research. It can be tested using split half method (the items on a test or questionnaire are randomly assigned to two halves so that each half is equivalent. The same person does both sub-tests at the same time. The scores of the two halves are compared for similarity) External reliability The consistency of a measure from one use to another, for instance in an observation whether all observers recordings of the same behaviour are consistent or whether when used with a different sample the results will remain consistent. This can be tested with test-retest and replication 15
  • 16. 3. Describe ONE way that you could assess the validity of the PSYCHOMEASURE test. 16
  • 17. Experiments Experiments are generally thought to be the most reliable and effective way of demonstrating that one variable (the IV) causes another to change (DV), because they can be replicated. They are the most scientific method used in Psychology as they allow for control, standardisation and objectivity. The strengths on one form of experiment are often the weaknesses in another form of experiment. Different forms of experiment are useful in different contexts. Experiments produce quantitative data that can be statistically analysed. Research Methods Complete the exam questions (taken from past papers) below: 1. A psychologist assessed the aggressive behaviour of 100 five-year-old children who were starting school. The children had attended day care for at least 20 hours a week. Fifty of the children had attended day nurseries. The other fifty children had been looked after by childminders. The children who attended the day nurseries were more aggressive than the children who had been looked after by childminders. Explain why this is an example of a natural experiment. (2 marks) 2. An American space shuttle exploded soon after it was launched. All of the astronauts on board were killed. Crowds of people were watching, including friends and relatives of the astronauts. Six months after the explosion, a student decided to investigate the accuracy of some of the eyewitnesses’ memory of this event. Explain why it might be better to carry out research into eyewitness testimony in the real world, rather than in a laboratory. (3 marks) 17
  • 18. Answer these questions about each of these stimulus examples. 1. What is the research method that has been used in the following study? 2. Explain one advantage and one weakness of this method in the context of this study. 3. Identify one ethical issue that might arise in this study and suggest how you would deal with it. A study was conducted to investigate the effects of anxiety on performance. Participants were given a task to complete in a set time. One set of the Ps was mildly stressed during the task. This was achieved by arranging for the researcher to watch their performance closely. The other set of Ps were watched but in a friendly manner. 1. Research method: 2. Advantage: Disadvantage: 3. Ethical issue & how to avoid it: A group of psychology students were studying attachment types. As part of their studies they decided to watch children’s behaviour when they were being left at nursery school by their parent. 1. Research method: 2. Advantage: Disadvantage: 3. Ethical issue & how to avoid it : 18
  • 19. Non-experimental research methods Surveys Interviews and questionnaires are both ways of collecting data using a survey. The questions asked may be the same in both, but an interview is a face to face (spoken) encounter between P and researcher whereas a questionnaire requires a written response. These methods are used to find out about what people think (opinion) and do in relation to specific topics. They can produce quantitative and qualitative data. Questionnaires 1. What is the main feature of a questionnaire using closed questions? 2. Give an example question about memory? 3. What is the main feature of a questionnaire using open questions? 4. Give an example question about memory? Interviews 1. What are the main advantages of an interview over a questionnaire? 2. What are the main disadvantages of an interview over a questionnaire? 19
  • 20. Complete the questions (taken from past papers) below: 1. Questionnaires and interviews are both self-report techniques. Explain one advantage and one disadvantage of using a questionnaire rather than an interview. (4 marks) 2. A psychologist investigated the effect of different forms of day care on children’s later social development. She selected two different types of day care: • child minders • day nurseries. The children had been in one of these types of day care full-time for at least a year before they started primary school. Each child’s mother was asked to complete a questionnaire. Write one suitable question which could be used in the questionnaire to produce quantitative data. (2 marks) Write one suitable question which could be used in the questionnaire to produce qualitative data. (2 marks) Give one weakness of using questionnaires in this research. (2 marks) 20
  • 21. Observations When planning an observation a researcher needs to operationally define key terms (e.g. make clear statements about how to measure or classify whatever is being studied - operationalise). For example, if a researcher wants to investigate age or sex differences in ‘reckless’ behaviour in the way children and young people cross the road they first need to operationally define ‘reckless’ behaviour. This means drawing up a list of criteria about what ‘reckless’ behaviour actually is. If the behaviour is not operationalised different observers will follow their own opinion thus observe different behaviours resulting in lack of inter-observer reliability. a) Naturalistic (or unstructured) observations? b) Controlled (or structured) observations? All observations are either overt/disclosed (where the people under observation are aware they are being observed and have given their consent for such an observation) or covert/undisclosed (where the people under observation are unaware they are being observed) 1. What is observer bias? 2. How can reliability be maximised when an observation is conducted? 21
  • 22. Observations Observations need to be recorded, either by using a behaviour schedule, using video or sound recordings. Each has its own particular advantages and disadvantages. Writing things down may mean that you miss seeing things but may be easier to analyse than a video recording. Taking a video recording allows the observed behaviour to be watched again but may lead to the behaviour being less natural. Behaviour schedule for attachment behaviour Mary Ainsworth, (1970) looked into individual differences in attachment using a controlled observation. The child’s behaviour was monitored in a variety of situations to determine different types of attachment. To do this it is necessary to create an observation schedule. Fill in the one below using your text book to help you. 1. Suggest one advantage and one disadvantage of this design in the context of this investigation. Type of behaviour Infant shows: Child 1 Child 2 Child 3 Behaviour when mother leaves (Separation anxiety) 1. Distress 2. Some distress 3. Great distress Behaviour towards stranger (stranger anxiety) 1. Wary of stranger 2. Treat mother & stranger in same way 3. Strongly reject stranger Reunion with mother 1. Easily comforted 2. Do not seek comfort 3. Difficult to comfort, appear both angry & clingy 22
  • 23. 2. How might you ensure reliability among different observers? 3. How could you ensure this study was carried out in an ethically acceptable manner? 4. How can you analyse the data you collect from: A natural observation of social behaviour of girls and boys in a nursery setting? 23
  • 24. Correlational studies (a non-experimental design) Correlational studies are used to asses the strength of the relationship between variables i.e. how strong is the link between two variables such as stress and heart disease? In this kind of psychological study, there is no direct manipulation of the IV by the experimenter. A correlation is not really a research method; it is really a tool of analysis as it makes use of statistics to test this relationship between variables. Correlations are often used when it is inappropriate or ethically unacceptable to use an experimental design e.g. Children who experience privation as infants will struggle with relationships in later life. Name the two linked variables above: BPS guidelines would not allow an experiment to be conducted in order to test this hypothesis, as it would be highly unethical to deprive an infant of an attachment with its parents in order to further our psychological understanding. However a correlational study to test this theory would be possible. Explain why a correlational study would be possible when an experiment would not: Using textbooks write a list of the advantages and disadvantages of using a correlation. Advantages Disadvantages 24
  • 25. Applying descriptive (and inferential) statistics to correlational studies. Data is displayed on a scattergram/scattergraph; with data from one variable placed on the y axis and data from the other variable shown on the x axis. (On a scatter graph it does not matter which variable goes on the X axis and which on the Y axis). We can investigate the kind of correlational relationships that exist between variables by plotting points of data on a scatter graph to see line of best fit. The strength of the link between the two variables can be assessed by calculating a correlation coefficient. This is a number between +1 and –1. If the correlation coefficient is calculated to be between 0 and +1 we see a positive correlation between the two variables. If the correlation coefficient is between 0 and –1 we see a negative correlation between variables. If the correlation coefficient is 0 we see no correlation between variables. In psychology a perfect correlational score of +1 or –1 is a rarity. Most scores are similar to those listed below. Examine these scores and indicate the type of correlation and whether it is strong or weak. Score Positive Negative no correlation Strong or weak -0.8 0.76 -0.34 -0.01 0.01 0.006 -0.121 0.09 -0.887 0.207 (A2: The non-parametric inferential statistical test applied to correlations is Spearman’s Rho.) Is there a relationship between being in love and giving extravagant presents? 25
  • 26. The relationship between researchers and participants Demand characteristics are features of the experiment which help participants work out what is expected of them and lead them to behave in certain predictable ways, thus acting as a confounding variable as they influence the DV. The participant will behave in a way to ‘please’ the experimenter. How DC can be reduced By using independent groups design so that they only experience one condition so are less likely to guess the aim of the experiment. By increasing experimental realism, because the participant’s attention will be taken up by his/her interest in the experimental procedures rather than trying to figure out what to do. By using single blind design where participants do not know whether they are in the experimental condition or the control condition. Experimenter bias or Investigator effects is the effect that the experimenter’s expectations have on the participants and thus upon the results as participants are prone to be influenced by the experimenter’s expectations. How EB/IE can be reduced: Experimenter bias can be overcome by using a double blind design where the experimenter is not aware of the experimental hypothesis so cannot communicate expectations to the participants. Using a single blind design is when the participants are aware of which condition they are in but the researcher is not. A researcher wishes to know if a new drug to treat anorexia nervosa is effective. She plans for the control group to be given a placebo and the experimental group the new drug but she wants to avoid participant AND researcher bias. What should she do? 26
  • 27. Sampling When conducting research psychologists need participants. In an ideal world, a study would include all members of a target population as this would provide the most accurate results. A target population is a group of people who share the same characteristics e.g. married women, A Level students, men over the age of 40 who enjoy playing golf. Clearly it is impossible to include all members of the target population within a study so a section of that population, a sample is included instead. If a sample is truly representative, then psychologists should be able to generalise the conclusions of the study to the whole target population. There are several ways of obtaining a sample explain how you would obtain the following samples, identify the advantages and disadvantages of each one: A random sample is Advantages Disadvantages A self-selected or volunteer sample is Advantages Disadvantages An opportunity sample is Advantages Disadvantages The larger the sample the more likely it is that the conclusions of the investigation will reflect the behaviour of the whole target population. The size of a sample will be dictated partly by time 27
  • 28. and financial constraints, although statistical tables should be consulted to note an acceptable number of Ps in order to achieve valid, successful results. 28
  • 29. You need to know which sampling method is most suitable to which circumstance/research and why – the exam questions often ask you to justify why they have used a particular sample. Order effects Complete the exam questions (taken from past papers) below: 1. Psychologists often need to select participants to take part in research. The descriptions below are all types of sampling method. A The psychologist puts an advert in a newspaper, asking for participants. B The psychologist uses lists of students in a university and selects every tenth student to take part. C The psychologist asks some of his psychology students to take part in the research. D The psychologist gives a number to all students in a university, then selects participants in an unbiased way. In the table below, write which description, A, B, C, or D, matches each sampling method. Sampling Method Description Random Sample Opportunity Sample Volunteer Sample (3 marks) 2. A psychologist investigated the relationship between type of attachment in childhood and success in later adult relationships. He published a questionnaire in a local newspaper. The participants were people who read the newspaper, filled in the questionnaire and sent it to the psychologist. Participants’ answers to the questions were used to decide whether they had been securely or insecurely attached as children. The participants who were identified as securely attached children were more likely to have successful adult relationships than those identified as insecurely attached children. Identify the sampling technique used in this study. Outline one weakness of using this sampling method. (3 marks) 29
  • 30. Research Design Researchers use their participants in different ways in different experiments, depending on the situation. They weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of each design and make their decision. Use the textbook to find out about the three main methods of using participants, called designs. Design Advantages Disadvantages Example study Independent groups Loftus & Palmer (1974) Eg. Give one group of Ps a test in a driving simulator after having drunk alcohol and the other group without having drunk alcohol. Repeated measures Eg. Test the group on the simulator and later give them a drink of alcohol and test the same group again. Matched pairs (participants) Kagan (1980) matched nursery and home group. Eg. Ps matched in important characteristics eg. driving ability and alcohol tolerance and then tested in one condition. What is a control group and why are they used? What are order effects? How can researchers reduce them? Remember that research method and research design are DIFFERENT. One is how your research (research method) and the other is what you do with your participants (research design) 30
  • 31. Order Effects Because repeated measures design requires participants to do the both conditions in the experiment the participants will have more opportunity to guess the hypothesis which will lead to greater chances of demand characteristics influencing behaviour rather than the IV. There is also the possibility that by experiencing both conditions participants will either improve on the second condition, or get bored; both leading to an effect upon performance thus acting as confounding variables in the experiment Counterbalancing Because we cannot remove order effects in a repeated measures design we can only remove the bias caused by creating order effects in each condition, thus balancing the order effects. ABBA design allows half the participants to do condition A then B, and the other half to do B and then A, and thus both conditions will have the same order effects which will therefore cancel out the bias. The important thing to remember when describing this is to say that the participants are SPLIT IN HALF, WITH HALF DOING CONDITION A/1 FIRST AND HALF CONDITION B/2 FIRST (Don’t say they are split into groups) 31
  • 32. 32 Complete the exam question (taken from a past paper) below: Psychologists carried out a laboratory experiment to investigate the effectiveness of cognitive interviews. All participants watched the same film of a robbery. They were randomly allocated to Group One or Group Two. Participants were then asked to recall the robbery. The investigators used a cognitive interview to access recall of participants in Group One and a standard interview to access recall of participants in Group Two. (a) What experimental design was used in this experiment? (1 mark) (b) Explain one limitation of the design that was used in this experiment. (2 marks) (c) What is meant by the term investigator effects? Explain possible investigator effects in this study. (4 marks) Complete the exam question (taken from a past paper) below: A researcher carried out an experiment to investigate misleading information. Participants were shown a photograph in which a man and a woman were talking. The photograph was then taken away and the participants were asked questions about it. Participants were randomly allocated to condition one or condition two. Participants in condition one were asked: Question A “How old was the youth in the photograph?” Participants in condition two were asked: Question B “How old was the man in the photograph?” Name an appropriate experimental design which could be used in this experiment. Explain why a repeated measures design would be unsuitable to use in this experiment. a) Experimental design: (1 mark) b) Explanation: (3 marks)
  • 33. 3 A psychologist used an independent groups design to investigate whether or not a cognitive interview was more effective than a standard interview, in recalling information. For this experiment, participants were recruited from an advertisement placed in a local paper. The advertisement informed the participants that they would be watching a film of a violent crime and that they would be interviewed about the content by a male police officer. The psychologist compared the mean number of items recalled in the cognitive interview with the mean number recalled in the standard interview. 3 (a) Name the sampling technique used in this experiment. (1 mark) ........................................................................................................................................... 3 (b) Suggest one limitation of using this sampling technique. (2 marks) ........................................................................................................................................... . ........................................................................................................................................... 3 (c) Identify the independent variable and the dependent variable in this experiment. Independent variable ....................................................................................................... . Dependent variable .......................................................................................................... (2 marks) 3 (d) Explain one advantage of using an independent groups design for this experiment. . ........................................................................................................................................... . ........................................................................................................................................... (2 marks) 3 (e) Discuss whether or not the psychologist showed an awareness of the British Psychological Society (BPS) Code of Ethics when recruiting participants for this experiment. . ........................................................................................................................................... . ........................................................................................................................................... . ........................................................................................................................................... (3 marks) 33
  • 34. Data Analysis Data is the results from research. Rather than presenting all of this in its raw form in your report we use data analysis, descriptive and inferential statistics to summarise these results. This means that anybody reading the report of the study will have a concise summary of the results and conclusions can be reached without having to look at pages of raw data. Levels of measurement In psychology we aim to quantify data wherever possible (NB. Even qualitative data can, to some extent be classified, categorised and counted.) There are three levels at which data can be measured: NOMINAL DATA – this is used when categorising something. Named categories are established by the researcher and an item is counted when it falls into this category. The data cannot fit into more than one of the categories. E.g. The total number of males and females present in a psychology class. . ORDINAL DATA – this is when data is ranked so that it is possible to see the order of scores in relation to one another. E.g. In a 100m race, we would know who came first, second, third etc. (However when we rank data in Psychology we work from 1 being the lowest!) INTERVAL DATA – this is a more sophisticated level of data. It not only gives the rank order of scores but it also details the precise intervals between scores. E.g. In our 100m race the finishing times of runners would be interval data: Clarke, N 11.4 seconds Smith, H 11.9 seconds Lloyd, P 12.1 seconds What type of data? - Read the following and decide whether they are nominal, ordinal or interval: (write N, O or I in the box after each example) 1. How quickly participants can identify the colour ink that a word is printed in 2. The birth order of participants 3. The eye colour of participants 4. The number of items on a memory test. It is unlikely that you would be asked specifically about level of data at AS, however you need to be able to identify which level raw data appears in because it will determine how the data is displayed, and analysed. Plus you need to do this at A2! Interval data can be ranked to form ordinal data but nominal data cannot be ranked as it is formed by different categories. 34
  • 35. Descriptive statistics Descriptive stats allow research data to be described and presented. It is not helpful to the reader to be given raw data of a study but it is important that they have a summary of that data. This may take the form of: o A table o A graph o Numerical average Graphs Graphs are used to display data in a form which is easy to read. You will be familiar with different types of graphs but it is important to know when to use each type: Memory aid for axes = ‘wise up’ = Y is the line that goes up… Histograms – these use bars which touch and are used with interval data only. The data is continuous as it all measures the same thing. Data will have the possibility of a zero start point. The Y axis represents frequency. Bar charts – these use bars which do not touch and can be used with all types of data. The data usually represents different categories. The data need not have a zero starting point. The Y axis represents frequency. Frequency polygons – these use lines and are used to compare sets of scores (interval data). They are used for the same data as a Histogram. The Y axis will represent frequency Scattergraphs/Scattergrams – these use dots and are used with correlations (data from one variable is plotted against the X axis and the data from another variable is plotted against the Y axis). The X and Y axes always represent the two co-variables. 35 In the exam you may be asked to interpret a table or graph. You may also be asked to draw out a graph using information provided, e.g.: ‘Outline what the scattergram seems to show.’ ‘Draw an appropriate bar chart to display the data presented in the above table. Correctly label your bar chart.’ Practice for some of the above by producing appropriate graphs for the following information. Remember to give each a title and label axes where appropriate.
  • 36. Produce an appropriate graph to display the following data: 1. Results of an observational study into types of attachment in a group of 18 month old babies: Insecure avoidant secure Insecure resistant Frequency of attachment behaviour 45 95 20 2. The number of digits recalled in an immediate digit span test (non-grouped data) participan t Number of digits recalled 1 9 2 7 3 6 4 8 5 6 6 7 7 5 8 7 9 4 10 3 5. The time taken by participants to complete a cognitive task Number of participants Time taken (secs) 1 0.00 – 0.59 6 1.00 – 1.59 4 2.00 – 2.59 2 3.00 – 3.59 1 4.00 – 4.59 6. Can you display any of the above data another way? If so how? 36
  • 37. 7. Results from a study to see the relationship between daily hassles and illness during a two month period. Participant number Number of days where hassles were experienced Number of work days missed through sickness 1 60 14 2 53 12 3 20 2 4 12 3 5 19 3 6 45 6 What type of data is displayed by the following graphs: A. B. C. D. 37
  • 38. Measures of central tendency Measures of central tendency are used to represent a set of numbers by providing the most typical (central) value. Each of these has advantages and disadvantages which you must be aware of. MEAN – when all scores in a group are added together and the total is divided by the number of scores. E.g. the results from a test (marked out of 50) 36 39 21 18 32 30 = 176 176 / 6 = 36 Mean = 36 MEDIAN – this is the central value in a set of scores after they have been put in rank order: E.g. 95 109 121 130 140 Median = 121 If there is an even number of scores take the mean of the two central values: Eg. 95 109 121 135 140 180 121 + 135 = 256 / 2 = 128 MODE - this is the most commonly occurring value in a set of scores: Eg. 1 2 3 3 3 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 6 6 6 7 Mode = 5 Find the mean, median and the mode for the following set of scores: 3 2 5 5 5 5 6 6 8 8 10 10 10 32 33 Mode Median Mean Advantages Disadvantages 38
  • 39. Measures of dispersion Measures of central tendency (mean/median/mode) are used to summarise sets of numbers giving a score which is representative of the set. However in order to give a fuller picture, we need to know how spread out (how dispersed) the scores are. This is important as it will tell us whether the scores are similar or whether they vary. Larger variations indicate greater individual differences. Both the range and standard deviation have advantages and disadvantages which you will need to know. THE RANGE – this is simply the difference between the highest and lowest scores in a set of values. Find the range for the following set of scores: 1. Age at which Ps claim to have ‘been in love’ 21 19 22 18 25 21 STANDARD DEVIATION – The average amount all scores deviate from the mean. This is the most powerful measure of dispersion. The SD shows the average amount that each score differs from the mean. You will not have to work out standard deviation (hurrah!) Range Standard deviation Advantages Disadvantages 39
  • 40. You will not be asked to work any measures of central tendency or dispersion out in the exams but by working out it will help you understand them more fully. You always need to choose the most appropriate measurement to illustrate the data set, remember you are using one number to represent many so the wrong choice may lead to a completely different interpretation. One or two? 40 Complete the following exam questions (from past papers): Table 1. Mean number of pictures correctly identified and standard deviations for participants with the memory improvement strategy and without the memory improvement strategy With memory improvement strategy Without memory improvement strategy Mean 8 7 Standard Deviation 2.80 0.29 What do the standard deviations in Table 1 tell us about the performance of the two groups? (2 marks) Table 2 Mean aggression scores for four-year- old children who had started day care before the age of two or after the age of two Started day care before the age of two Started day care after the age of two Mean score 25 23 Name one measure of dispersion that the researcher could have used to describe the data. (1 mark)
  • 41. RESEARCH METHODS REVISION Key terms - You need to understand each of these terms in the context of a piece of research. Test yourself as you go along and for revision. 1. Bar chart 1. Confounding variables 2. Content analysis 3. Correlational analysis 4. Demand characteristics 5. Directional (one-tailed) hypothesis 6. DV (dependent variable) 7. Double blind 8. Experimental/alternative hypothesis 9. Field experiment 10. Frequency polygon 11. Histogram 12. Independent groups design 13. Interview 14. Investigator effects 15. IV (independent variable) 16. Laboratory experiment 17. Matched pairs design 18. Mean 19. Median 20. Mode 21. Natural experiment 22. Natural observation 23. Negative correlation 24. Non-directional (two-tailed) hypothesis 25. Null hypothesis 26. Opportunity sampling 27. Pilot study 28. Positive correlation 29. Qualitative data 30. Quantitative data 31. Questionnaire survey 32. Random sampling 33. Range 34. Reliability 35. Repeated measures design 36. Research 37. Scattergraph/Scattergram 38. Single blind 39. Standard deviation 40. Validity 41
  • 42. Top tips for the exam! You need to know everything in this booklet because there is a real chance that any of it could come up in the exam. Psychology is all about research, try and spot what method, design or sample was used in studies as you revise your other topics e.g. cognitive etc. Read these bits of advice and then have a go at the past papers available on Moodle or AQA web site. The more papers you do the more familiar you will become with the format and the kind of questions that are asked. This is an exam paper where practice really can make perfect! • Read the stimulus and the questions very carefully, the examiners are not trying to trick you, even if sometimes it does seem like it. • Answer all questions. • Underline key terms and information in any stimulus material, for example the research method used, the sampling technique, who is doing the research etc. • Look at the context of any studies given as examples e.g. is it research for A level coursework or is it a university Psychologist? This will affect various things e.g. the budget, the resources available and the size of the sample. • Be reasonable about ethics, particularly protection from harm, make answers relevant.. • Use the wording in any stimulus to help you – you will generally find key phrases for the hypothesis and aims right in front of you. • If a question asks you to justify any design decisions explain why the decisions have been made. • Research Methods questions will appear in BOTH Psychology AS exams AND at A2 so it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to gain confidence in this area. • KEEP THIS BOOKLET AS YOU WILL NEED IT FOR A2 PSYCHOLOGY TOO. 42

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