Chapter 2 – Research Methods
FORM A QUESTION
Can be based on the observation of a real-world event.
Sometimes questions are designed to test established theories in psych.
SEARCH THE LITERATURE
First find out what other people have already discovered about the same or similar ideas.
Literature review – examining previous relevant studies on a given topic and critically
o The aim is to conduct a review of valid and unbiased studies.
o You don’t want to conduct a piece of research that you think is original, only to
discover something similar has already been done.
FORM A HYPOTHESIS
Hypothesis – a testable prediction about the conditions under which an event will occur.
Statement about the cause and effect relationship between two variables.
A quasi-experimental approach samples pre-existing groups and then treats them as if
they are different experimental groups.
CREATE AN OPERATIONAL DEFINITION
Operational definition – a specific procedure or measure that one uses to test a hypothesis.
If you have a good operational definition, your measure if valid – it measures what it is
supposed to measure.
COLLECT AND ANALYZE DATA
Can be collected by observation, through surveys, from pre-existing documents, or via
The Facebook study conducted an online survey which was appropriate because more
than 90% of students use Facebook – representative of the general student population.
Next step is to analyze the data where researchers get to see if their ideas are supported
PROPOSE OR REVISE A THEORY
Theory – an organized set of principles that explain observed phenomena.
Theories give potential explanations. Example: exposure to violence on television leads to aggression through a variety of
Some studies lead to the revision of a theory and others contest altogether.
Theories generate questions for future research.
CORRELATIONAL RESEARCH METHODS
Correlational research – a research technique that examines the extent to which two or more
variables are associated with one another.
Definition – a research approach that involves the observation and systematic recording of a
Data can be collected by observing social interactions and then rating them – watching
children on a playground to determine if girls or boys are more aggressive.
Naturalistic data can be obtained without observing people’s behaviour – relation
between being in a fraternity and amount of pizza consumption. You can look outside in
the garbage can each week to see how many pizza boxes were thrown away.
Archival research – a research approach that uses already recorded behaviour.
o Hot weather and the increase in violence and crime.
Meta analysis – a literature review that analyzes data from several studies that examine
Help researchers develop hypotheses and theories.
Internal validity and less vulnerable to criticisms.
Relatively easy to conduct.
Naturalistic methods provide data about events that researchers would be unable to
examine in other settings.
Naturalistic methods can provide large amounts of data that researchers would never be
able to gather on their own.
Presence of the observer is likely to influence behaviour – behave differently when
Observer’s own biases – one might thinking pushing on a playground is normal.
Inter-rater reliability – the extent to which two or more coders agree on ratings of a
Observational – cannot tell us which variable causes the other. SELF-REPORT OR SURVEY METHODS
Rely on asking people questions about their thoughts, feelings, and behaviour.
Event recording or experience sampling measures – a particular type of self-report or survey data
where participants report various experiences they have at regular time intervals.
Enable researchers to collect data from many participants at the same time; inexpensive.
Faster when collected as a group.
Let researchers ask questions about a range of topics.
Can lead to biased findings if they use leading questions.
The order in which questions are asked can influence responses.
Providing information about who is conducting the research influences responses.
Responses provided give people an idea of what the normal or typical behaviour is and
people don’t want to appear different from others.
Options can have an even stronger impact on answers when participants must choose
between a set of very limited response options.
Inaccuracy of Responses
People might think they are telling the truth, but they simply may not be able to
accurately recall the necessary information.
o People may forget how much money they donated to charity last year.
People are concerned with the social desirability of their responses.
Covert measures – measures used by researchers that rely on participants’ behaviour or
reaction not directly under participants’ control.
o Used when participants might not want to be honest in their responses.
o Penile cuffs when watching erotic videos.
Experimental methods – a research approach that involves the manipulation of one or more
independent variables and the measurement of one or more dependent variables.
Independent variable – the variable that is manipulated in experimental research. Dependent variable – the factor that is measured to see if it affected