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Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Research methods.docx

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PSYC 2120
Ward Struthers

Steps of the Research Process  Forming a Question o Many studies in social psychology start with a question based on the observation of a real-world event o Sometimes research questions are designed to test established theories in psychology  Realistic Conflict Theory – the belief that actual conflict between groups of people is based on competition between them for finite resources  Searching the Literature o It is important to first determine what other people might have found out about the same or similar ideas o Account of what other researchers have examined and found on a topic o Literature review – examines previous studies on a given topic  Good literature review identifies useful articles and other sources of information that are relevant to the topic and that critically appraises them  Without good literature review you risk reinventing the wheel  Form a Hypothesis o Testable prediction about the conditions under which an even t will occur o More specific than the original question you asked  A hypothesis can be directly tested and can include a specific prediction  Create an Operational Definition o Describes the procedure or measure that you’ll use to test your hypothesis  Collect and Analyze Data o By observation o Through surveys o From pre-existing documents o Experiment o After the data are collected the next step is to analyze them  Propose or Revise a Theory o Theory – organized set of principles that explain observed phenomena o Although hypotheses are specific predictions about the association between two events they do not explain how or why these two events are connected. In contrast, theories give potential explanations o Sometimes a study’s results lead to the revision of a particular theory o Sometimes they refute the theory all together Observational/Naturalistic Methods  Used to describe and measure people’s behaviour in everyday situations  Researchers observe behaviour and systematically record that behaviour  Some researchers collect their data by observing social interactions and rating them in various ways o Try to be as unobtrusive as possible to avoid influencing the behaviour of the people who are being observed  Can collect naturalistic data without observing people’s behaviour  Archival research – researchers use already recorded behaviour such as statistics  Meta-analysis – a literature review that analyzes data from different studies that examine related hypothesis o Use a statistical technique for combining data that have been collected by different researchers o Evens out the strengths and weaknesses of particular studies as all the data are considered simultaneously  Advantages of observational methods: o Based on observations of real-world phenomena and help researchers develop hypotheses o Internal validity and less vulnerable to criticism o Relatively easy to conduct o Provide data about events that researchers would be unable to examine in other settings o Provide large amounts of data that researchers would never be able to collect on their own  Limitations: o Observer is likely to influence behaviour o Observers own bias o Can only imply correlation and not causality Self-Report or Survey Methods  Rely on asking people question about their thoughts, feelings and behaviour o Can ask question directly with interview o Can ask question indirectly through survey  Event-recording or experience sampling measures – respondents report on various experiences that they have at regular intervals o Report on a designated set of events o Could carry a programmed watch or beeper and write down various pieces of information  Advantages: o Commonly used to collect information about the link between peoples attitudes and behaviours o Enables researchers to collect data from many participants at the same time o Inexpensive Self-Report or Survey Methods – Limitations  Question wording: o Can lead to biased findings if they used leading questions o Subtle wording differences can lead to different results o Order in which questers are asked can influence the responses  Response options: o The responses provided give people an idea of what the normal or typical behaviour is and people often don’t want to appear different from others
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