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Chapter 4

Clinical Psychology Chapter 4.docx

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Wilfrid Laurier University
John Stephens

Chapter 4: Research Methods in Clinical Psychology Purposes of Research • Allows individuals to discover things for themselves, rather than relying solely on the knowledge of others • Helps avoid speculation and misconception • Provides a way for researchers to extend and modify existing theories Research Methods • Types of Observation – Unsystematic Observation: basic and casual • Does little by itself to establish a strong base of knowledge but we can develop hypotheses that can eventually be tested more systematically • High potential for false conclusions • Example: an unplanned observation of a patient’s abnormal response to a specific stimulus; witnessing this behaviour can lead to a greater understanding of the patient’s issues – Naturalistic Observation: carried out in real-life, carefully planned, but observer is not in control • May leave the observer uncertain on how far one can generalize to other people or other situations • More rigorous & systematic • Limited scope • Risk of observer influence • Example: a trained observer watching children on a playground, noting the relationship between aggression and friendship; intent is planned, but situation is still natural and unpredictable – Controlled Observation: may be in real life, but observer has control over situation • Can also be used to assess communication patterns between couples or spouses • Observer establishes the situation • Gain more clinical insight into nature of problem • Cost-effective • Example: observing a patient with a snake phobia interact (touch, hold, etc.) with a snake; the situation is staged so reaction can be observed and assessed – Case studies: intensive study of a patient in treatment • Especially useful for • Providing decriptions of rare or unusual phenomena or novel, distinctive methods of interviewing, assessing, or treating patients • Disconfirming “universally” known or accepted information; and • Generating testable hypotheses • However, it is difficult to use individual cases to develop universal laws or behavioural principles • Intensive, individualized • Prelude to scientific investigation Epidemiological Methods • Epidemiology is the study of the incidence, prevalence, and distribution of illness or disease in a given population • Survey- and interview-based • Incidence • The rate of new cases of a disease or disorder that develop within a given period of time • Prevalence • The overall rate of cases (new or old) within a given period of time • Risk Factors • A variable that increases a person’s risk of experiencing a particular disease or disorder over his or her lifetime Correlational Methods • Correlation coefficient(s) – A statistic that describes the relati
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