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

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

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  • Note that I've put many of the popular quotations into a separate, shorter presentation about the 'spirit of research' - http://www.slideshare.net/jtneill/spirit-of-research
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  • Introduces the role and nature of research and research methods in psychological science. Image source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brain_mechanism.svg Image author: Alexander Krainov, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Alex_Krainov License: Creative Commons Share-Alike 3.0, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en
  • Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gadl/395079578/ Image author: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gadl/ License: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0
  • Image source: Unknown. Examination of this image suggests an orderly discipline, yet space and environment for creativity and passion.
  • Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nics_events/2349632625/in/set-72157610727439784/ By nic's events - http://www.flickr.com/photos/nics_events/ License: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0
  • Just as research of our physical world and its properties and laws has lead to our creation of incredibly artful and scientific structures, so too psychological research holds out the promise of discovering the architecture of our psyche and our behaviour with the world around us. Image source: Unknown.
  • Blue is usually the most popular 7 is usually the most popular 4 is usually male 8 is usually female This suggests that we may be more predictable than we like to think and indicates that there may be many patterns which can help to explain our thinking, feeling, and behaviouur.
  • The process of psychological research, generating theories and testing hypotheses.
  • Blue is usually the most popular 7 is usually the most popular 4 is usually male 8 is usually female This suggests that we may be more predictable than we like to think and indicates that there may be many patterns which can help to explain our thinking, feeling, and behaviouur.
  • Image sources: Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mvvermeulen/106707882/ By mauritsv - http://www.flickr.com/photos/mvvermeulen/ License: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 James Neill (questionnaire). Explain story of my first research study – curiousity + methodology.
  • Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/emdot/96674873/ By emdot - http://www.flickr.com/photos/emdot/ License: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0
  • Blue is usually the most popular 7 is usually the most popular 4 is usually male 8 is usually female This suggests that we may be more predictable than we like to think and indicates that there may be many patterns which can help to explain our thinking, feeling, and behaviouur.
  • Image soruce: A-bomb unknown
  • Image soruce: A-bomb unknown
  • Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wwworks/1291468732/ By woodleywonderworks' http://www.flickr.com/people/wwworks/
  • Facts are what need to be explained objective - viewable by others based on direct observation reasonable observers agree are true
  • Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pagedooley/3290475538/ License: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 by kevindooley - http://www.flickr.com/photos/pagedooley/
  • People surrounded by grafitti are more likely to steal Broken window effect See: http://www.rug.nl/gmw/nieuws/archief/archief2008/persberichten/153_08?lang=en
  • qualitative approaches which utilise ethnography, grounded theory, content analysis of language, observation, etc. quantitative approaches which use tools (such as surveys) to collect empirical data
  • Strengths: Conclusions about cause & effect can be drawn - Weaknesses – artificial and ethical/practical constraints
  • Image source: https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/wiki/File:Diphenhydramine_pills.jpg Image license: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en Image author: dysamoria, http://www.flickr.com/photos/dysamoria
  • qualitative approaches which utilise ethnography, grounded theory, content analysis of language, observation, etc. quantitative approaches which use tools (such as surveys) to collect empirical data
  • Image source: Myers.
  • Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gadl/395079578/ By gadl - http://www.flickr.com/photos/gadl/ License: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0
  • Image source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Correlation_vs_causation.png Image author:Rcragun http://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=User:Rcragun&action=edit&redlink=1 Image license: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en
  • Image source: Myers.
  • Image source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Phineas_gage_-_1868_skull_diagram.jpg License: Public domain
  • Image source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Note.svg Image license: Public domain
  • Image source: Unknown.
  • If you want to know what the proportion of blue to red marbles is, the most efficient way is to take a sample and count the ratio. Image source: Mysers.
  • http://research.unlv.edu/OPRS/history-ethics.htm

Research Methods in Psychology Research Methods in Psychology Presentation Transcript

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