Research Methods in Psychology

Psychologists have used in days gone by and continue steadily to use today a variety of research methods in emotional investigations which provide techniques and help them to assemble and make sense of these data. From other investigations, data is gathered in two varieties which are quantitative (data portrayed in the form of numbers e. g. amount of time in seconds) and qualitative (data is indicated in a descriptive manner e. g. in verbal studies how research individuals experience something). Researchers try to discover facts about the globe by using systematic and objective ways of investigation. In an experiment the connection between two things is looked into by deliberately producing a change in the 3rd party adjustable (IV) and recording what effect this has on dependant adjustable (DV).

Experimental methods are usually completed in the laboratory, field and in the natural. The non- experimental methods are as: manipulated observation, naturalistic observation, and participant observation. This article will check out one of the test method which is; the laboratory experiment which gives the researcher complete control over the test, and a non-experimental method which is the naturalistic observation; it entails the researcher in the taking of behaviour in its natural environment.

The laboratory experiment, regarded as a quantitative research method, can be used very extensively as a research tool in psychology. It provides researchers with a good and highest possible level of control over factors. Advantages are: a report can be replicated by other analysts. You'll be able to determine the reason and effect romantic relationship between IV and DV, and much easier to use technical equipment in a laboratory. Cons are that the results may be damaged by experimenter bias where an experimenter's goals about the study can affect results and volunteer bias where in fact the participants may be influenced by these prospects. Psychologists say that total control is never possible. Because the laboratory experiment is an artificial situation, results might not be generalised to real life, in psychological conditions it is called ecological or exterior validity. Members may try to manipulate the results, if indeed they get to know the purposes and requirements of the experiment.

The first noted laboratory test, was performed four hundred years back by Galileo an Italian physicist, he tested his theory of acceleration by timing balls as they rolled down an likely plane. Because of this laboratory tests have been a basis of the methodical method. Feyman (1963) illustrated this reality when he noted down that, "The process of science, the definition almost, is the following: the test of all knowledge is test. Experiment is the sole judge of technological truth". http://pricetheory. uchicago. edu/levitt/Papers/jep%20revision%20Levitt%20&%20List. pdf

Professor psychologist Albert Bandura (1961) manipulated the 3rd party variable of exposure to aggression to see what impact it got on the dependant variable of imitation of hostility in children under manipulated lab conditions by arbitrarily allocating children to the condition where they found an adult being violent towards a bobo doll or an adult showing no violence. The number of aggressive acts was later also measured in the lab. From the above example main top features of a laboratory test could be revealed. The researcher has a larger chance of deliberately controlling the parameters, IV may also be manipulated and DV could be assessed in the above mentioned example. The Cognitive methodology emphasise on using laboratory tests.

However, the naturalistic observation which is considered to be always a qualitative research method was at first developed by Lorenz an ethologist. Behaviour is seen in the natural environment, and as there is absolutely no IV manipulated, factors are absolve to adjust and are maintained to minimal interference. The naturalistic observation is needed to establish possible human relationships and it provides a way to study behavior where there ethical objections to manipulating variables. As much as having high ecological validity, it also provides more realistic picture of spontaneous behavior, for in a natural setting people respond more realistically. In the event the observer remains undetected, it is a way that avoids experimental effects such as experimenter bias and evaluation apprehension This technique has issues raised by psychologists, the actual fact that it's difficult to reproduce, there can be an extent of doubt to given results. It is not possible to work out cause and effect, and controlling of extraneous variables become impossible. If individuals know they are being watched, they could behave unnaturally and this might cause alterations in designed results. Issues like privacy and given consent may also arise if members are unaware of being observed. Dane defined this as "anything that lessens the members' conception of a meeting as natural". Eysenck M. W (2000) Page 251

An example of naturalistic observation was conducted by Anderson (1972). He noticed children in a London playground and drew a summary that it was rear to see a child significantly less than three years of age who could wander away for more than two hundred meters before time for touch or sketch their mother's attention. Another example is observing how other people behave. This is carried out in public places like bookstores, college cafeterias, the mall, supermarkets, etc. The researcher must observe a sizable group of men and women and make notes about their behaviour.

In terms of research ethics will be the moral key points which guide research. They are really a couple of beliefs about what is right or wrong. "They are simply known as Ethical Guidelines, devote destination to protect ethics" Cox, E. (2001). Page 144. The Nuremberg code is one example of an moral guideline that was unveiled after the world war two when the Nazi doctors conducted experiments on prisoners in Germany attention camps who have been regarded as ethnic minorities. "The world was horrified by the revelations with their research. Jews, Gypsies, Poles and Russians were subjected to appalling treatment in the name of research". Haralambos M & Rice D (2002) Page190.

Each widely used research method is affected by at least one or more ethical issues. You will discover six main ethical issues predicated on the rules of British Psychological Society. These are: Prepared consent, deception, debriefing, withdrawal, confidentiality and protection of members. This area of the essay is going to check out two of the above: debriefing which occurs by the end of the experiments, then the experimenter discloses all results found in the experiment. The second one is withdrawal which occurs when the participant feel unfairly misled or improperly treated and it is forced to withdraw from the test.

The debriefing issue plays more in favor of the researcher than the participant because it takes place after the experiment, around attempts are created to undo any negative effects of the research methods still the participant could have already been exposed to the side ramifications of the test such as anxiety. However the drawback issue has a good effect on the members, for they might be in control of the test. Quite simply if they made a decision to leave, the experimenter would maintain no position to stop them.

A lot of criticism has been aimed at the ethics of Milgram's obedience research. Forty men aged between twenty and fifty years in a variety of careers, were recruited with a deceptive newspaper advertisements (Milgram, 1963). It asked volunteers for a 'study memory' instead of an obedience experiment that Milgram conducted. Repayment of four dollars each was promised to be paid to any ready participant as part of their travelling bills. In their functions of professor or learner, educators would ask the learner a question, a power shock would be sent to them for just about any inappropriate answers. Critics lifted issues because the ethical guidelines weren't followed in the aforementioned research, individuals were falsely informed, and the gear used was a deception. In his defence, Milgram said, "The central moral justification for allowing a procedure of the type found in my experiment is that it is judged acceptable by those who have used part in it". Haralambos M & Rice D (2002) Page 190.

Milgram's research is a good example that illustrates a poor effect on research; it lacks all honest guidelines and clearly shows what some researchers are ready to do in order to obtain results for a specific study. Some research workers do trust Milgram, Ericson (1968) thinks that, "Milgram made a momentous and meaningful contribution to our knowledge of human being behaviour". " Haralambos M & Rice D (2002) Page 190.


  • Cox, E. (2001). Mindset for A' Level. Oxford College or university Press, Oxford
  • Eysenck M. W (2000) Psychology for As level Mindset Press
  • Haralambos M & Grain D (2002) Causeway Press
  • http://pricetheory. uchicago. edu/levitt/Paperwork/jep%20revision%20Levitt%20&%20List. pdf
  • http://community. jrank. org/webpages/437/Naturalistic-Observation. html">Naturalistic Observation

Also We Can Offer!

Other services that we offer

If you don’t see the necessary subject, paper type, or topic in our list of available services and examples, don’t worry! We have a number of other academic disciplines to suit the needs of anyone who visits this website looking for help.

How to ...

We made your life easier with putting together a big number of articles and guidelines on how to plan and write different types of assignments (Essay, Research Paper, Dissertation etc)