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Chapter 2

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Psychology 2040A/B
Jackie Sullivan

Chapter Two: Research Strategies Intro: - A story about a researcher who designed a research plan but then was not able to follow-through due to ethical issues From Theory to Hypothesis - Research usually begins with a prediction drawn from a theory = hypothesis - Once a hypothesis is tested, it reflects the accuracy of the theory - Sometimes researchers compare hypotheses from different theories and other times they test a hypothesis from one theory - Sometimes little or no theory exists on a topic; therefore, researchers start with a research question, which offers guidance on research methods & designs - Why study research strategies? o To be a wise & critical consumer of knowledge o Individuals who work directly with children may be in a unique position to build bridges, need to know who conducted the studies Common Research Methods Systematic Observation - Naturalistic Observation: go into the field or natural environment and record the behaviour of interest o Strengths: reflects participants’ everyday behaviours o Limitations: cannot control conditions, accuracy reduced by observer influence & observer bias - Structured Observation: observation of behaviour in a lab, where conditions are the same for all participants o Strengths: grants each participant an equal opportunity to display the behaviour of interest and permits study of behaviours rarely seen in everyday life, good for interactions (parent-child, friendship) o Limitations: may not yield observations typical of participants’ behaviour in everyday life and accuracy of observation may be reduced by observer influence & observer bias Collecting Systematic Observations - Procedures to collect data varies, depending on the research question - Some choose to investigate the entire behaviour stream (ex. take short videos of mothers with their children & assess many behaviours) while other researchers only need information on one or a few kinds of behaviours o For 1 or 2, they can use more efficient procedures, like event sampling, the observer records all instances of a particular behaviour during a specified time period o Another efficient way is time sampling, the research records whether certain behaviours occur during a sample of short intervals Limitations of Systematic Observation - Observer Influence: the effects of the observer on the behaviour studied o To minimize it, an adaptation period (people go into the setting before research begins) can be used or sometimes the researchers ask the subject to do the observing - Observer Bias: when observers are aware of the purpose of a study, they may see & record what they expect to see rather than what participants actually do o Minimize it by using investigators who don’t know the hypothesis or have little personal investment Self-Reports: Interviews & Questionnaires Clinical Interviews - Flexible interviewing procedure in which the investigator obtains a complete account of the participant’s thoughts o Strengths: comes as close as possible to the way participants think in everyday life and great breadth & depth of information can be obtained in a short time o Limitations: may not result in accurate reporting of information and flexible procedure make comparing individual’s responses difficult Limitation of Clinical Interviews - Some participants may want to please the interviewer - May have trouble recalling events if asked about their past - Some people have troubles putting their thoughts into words, to minimize this, researchers ask questions very carefully - Certain topics are vulnerable for distortion - When questions are asked differently for each participant, answers may vary due to the researcher’s manner rather than real differences, hence a second self-report method (structured interview) should be used Structured Interviews, Tests & Questionnaires - Self-report instruments in which each person is asked the same set of questions in the same way o Strengths: permits comparisons of participants’ responses & efficient data collection and researchers can specify answer alternatives that participants might not think of in an open-ended interview o Limitations: does not yield the same depth of information as a clinical interview and responses are still subject to inaccurate reporting Neurobiological Methods - Methods that measure the relationship between nervous system processes & behaviour o Strengths: reveals which CNS structures contribute to development & individual differences in certain competencies and help researchers infer the perceptions, thoughts & emotions of infants & young children, who cannot report them clearly o Limitations: cannot reveal with certainty the meaning of autonomic or brain activity and many factors besides those of interest to the researcher can influence a physiological response - Different methods for Measuring Brain Function o Electroencephalogram (EEG), Event-related potentials (ERPs), Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), Position Emission Tomography (PET), Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) – pg. 48 - Neuroimaging Techniques, which yield detailed 3-D computerized pictures of the entire brain & its active areas, provide the most precise info about which brain regions are specialized for certain capacities & about abnormalities in brain functioning o PET & fMRI not suitable for infants as they cannot remain still so use NIRS as it only consists of thin electrodes attached to the scalp via a cap (but it only examines the cerebral cortex) Biology & Environment: Prenatal Iron Deficiency & Memory Impairments in Infants of Diabetic Mothers (story) - Mothers with diabetes at risk of causing long-term problems for their babies - Increases the risk of defects (hippocampus of the temporal lobe for memory is often affected due to low iron/O2) during pregnancy and causes the fetus to be “overfed” - Diabetic babies could not distinguish between mother’s face nor objects (thus, iron deficiency as a child causes lasting memory issues due to brain damage) The Clinical or Case Study Method - A full picture of one’s individual’s psychological functioning, obtained by combining interviews, observations, test scores & sometimes neurobiological assessments o Strengths: provides rich, descriptive insights into the many factors affecting development o Limitations: may be biased by researchers’ theoretical preferences and findings cannot be applied to individuals other than the participant Methods For Studying Culture - To study the impact of culture, researchers adjust their methods just considered or tap procedures specially devised for cross-cultural & multicultural research o Which approach researchers use depends on their goals - Researchers draw on observational & self-report procedures - To uncover cultural meanings, investigators rely on a method borrowed from the field of anthropology o Ethnography, participant observation (researcher becomes one of them) of a culture or distinct social group and by making extensive field notes, the researcher tries to capture the culture’s unique values & social processes o Strengths: provides a more complex description that can be derived from a single observational visit, interview or questionnaire o Limitations: may be biased by researchers’ values & theoretical preferences and findings cannot be applied to individuals & settings other than the ones studied Cultural Influences: Immigrant Youths - Adapting to a New Land (story) - Research shows that immigrants adapt very well - Foreigners tend to achieve just a much or better in school, especially Asian cultures, some other cultures in South America have higher dropout rates - Immigrant parents view education as the surest way to improve life - Immigrants have higher family values and tend to want to succeed to repay their parents - Foreigners do have to deal with prejudices though and language adaptation Reliability & Validity: Keys to Scientifically Sound Research Reliability - Refers to consistency or repeatability of measures of behaviour o In observational research, they use the inter-rater reliability method in which researchers examine & agree on the same behaviours o In self-report & neurobiological research, they use the test-retest reliability method in which they compare answers of the self-reports & agree on the patterns found in neurobiological research Validity - Accurately measuring the characteristics that the researcher set out to measure - Researchers must safeguard 2 types of validity: o Internal Validity: the degree to which conditions internal to the design of the study permit an accurate test of the researcher’s hypothesis or question o External Validity: degree to which their findings generalize to settings & participants outside the original study General Research Designs Correlational Design - Researchers gather information on individuals, generally in natural life circumstances, & make no effort to alter their experiences and then they look at relationships between participants’ characteristics & their behaviour or development o Strengths: permits study of relationships between variables o Limitations: does not permit inferences about cause-and-effect relationships - In correlational studies, researchers examine relationships by using a correlational coefficient – a number that describes how 2 measures or variables are associated with each other o Can range from -1 to 1, depending on the magnitude or sixe of the number shows the strength of the relationship; positive means one increases, other increases; negative means one increases, other dec
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