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Chapter 11 Notes 97-03.doc

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David Nussbaum

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PSYB01 Chapter 11 – Qualitative Methods - Qualitative methods allow psychologists to learn about human behaviour by listening to people or observing their behaviour in a natural setting. Fundamentals of Qualitative Research - Common features o Collection primarily qualitative rather than quantitative: research designs may have both but qualitative methods emphasize observations about natural behaviour, attitudes and artifacts that capture life as is o Exploratory research questions, with commitment to inductive reasoning: usually no preformulated hypothesis but want to find out what people think o A focus on previously unstudied process and unanticipated phenomena: previously unstudied attitudes and actions can’t adequately be understood with questions or controlled experiments. o A focus on human subjectivity, on the meanings that participants attach to events and that people give to their lives: how people try to make sense of what is happening o Reflexive Research design, in which design develops as research progresses: each component may need to be reconsidered or modified depending on response o Sensitivity to the researcher’s subjectivity: qualitative researchers question objectivity of research Methods for collecting qualitative data - Qualitative interviewing: Open-ended, relatively unstructured questioning in which interviewer seeks in-depth information about feelings, experiences and perceptions - Participant observation: involves developing sustained relationship with people while they go about normal life - Focus groups: unstructured group interviews where group leaders encourage discussion on topics of interest Qualitative Interviewing - Could be paired with participant observations, open-ended, no fixed response - Could take very long (up to 15 hours spread across several sessions)  Like conversation PSYB01 Chapter 11 – Qualitative Methods - “Grand tour questions” to elicit lengthy narratives - Selecting interviewees: random selection rarely used, participants must be screened - Saturation point: when new interviews seem to yield little additional information - Asking questions and recording answers: interviewers must plan main questions around outline of interview topic, tape recorders used so that conversation is not interrupted, very few “speak for the public” because recorder is soon ignored - Developing Rapport: Show interest in interviewee and introduce purpose of interview, interviewer needs to maintain appropriate distance, maintain eye contact and not engage in districting behaviour, if conversation is stressful, let them unwind at the end Participant Observation - In the field and not in the laboratory - Participant observers seek to avoid artificiality of experimental designs and unnatural structured questioning of survey research - This method encourages consideration of the context in which human behaviour occurs - Boston McKinney Project (Schutt, 2011): process of change in group homes, test value for homeless mentally ill persons living in group homes or independent apartments - Find balance between observing and participating, not just every day observer, gotta take notes and check time and settings meticulously - Reactive effects: Changes in an individual or group’s behaviour because they are being watched - Field researchers: Researcher who uses qualitative methods to conduct research in the field developing and maintaining relationships, gains trust and converses better with participants - Being a participant creates boundary issues: try to lessen some resulting problems by evaluating both effect on others in setting and effect of others on their observations and write about such effects - Entering the field: Researchers must learn to dress like them, find out typical behaviour so they are not caught unprepared PSYB01 Chapter 11 – Qualitative Methods - Managing Relationships: every action a researcher takes can develop or undermine relationships o Develop plausible explanation about yourself and study o Maintain support of key individuals in groups or organizations o Don’t show off expertise o Don’t be too aggressive in questioning others, be reflective listener o Ask sensitive questions to only people you have good relationships with o Be self-revealing up to a point o Don’t fake social similarity, friendly interest in them is enough o Avoid giving or receiving monetary or tangible gifts o Be prepared for difficulties with multi-groups, try not to take sides - Taking Notes o Almost always a mistake while engaged in field, should just have brief notes (jottings) that can serve as memory joggers when writing actual f
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