Research Methods in Psychology

Goals of Psychology

Four different goals

  1. To describe human behaviour, mental processes, and emotion.
  2. To understand and explain human behaviour and mental processes. This means to research and answer the question why. Causes
  3.  To predict human behaviour, mental processes and emotion. How people behave in future. Predict based certain variables. For instance what kinds of people are more likely to engage in aggressive behaviour?
  4.  To influence and control human behaviour mental process and emotion. This is the area of psychotherapy to help people overcome problems. After we have described and investigate we intervene into people lives by using techniques to help them out.

The Scientific Method

What is Science?

System observation of phenomena in an effort to detect orderly relationships (laws) governing interrelationships of variables. How variables are related to each other. Causation is the main focus. How change in one variable will cause a change in another variable. Description is its simple tool while experimentation is its most complex tool.

Steps in the Scientific Method

  1. Six basic elements
  2. Observation
  3. Define the problem
  4. Propose a hypothesis
  5. Gathering evidence
  6. Publishing results
  7. Building a theory

Research Strategies in Psychology

Operation Definition is statement of procedures (operations) used to define research variables

1. Descriptive Methods

a. Naturalistic Observation

In this we go to people’s natural environment and observe their behaviour. It involves the careful observation and recording of behaviour in real life setting. It has its own problems like, peoples concern, ethical issues, people taking exception etc. The participants or subjects may adapt to the presence of the observer. The observer does not manipulate but simply observes.

b. Clinical method

As the name implies it is an observation in a clinical environment or it is an observation of a person while a psychologist is helping him or her with a problem. It could involve in-depth study of all aspects of a single case, like the history of the patient, psychological issues of the patient, family issues etc.

c. Survey Method

This method consists of interviews and questionnaires to study human behaviour. This is done either by asking people directly or just asks them to fill an online or paper based questionnaire. A random sample is taken for a population to represent the whole population. A good example would be marbles in jars.

 2. Correlation Methods

It is called correlation because it examines the quantitive relationship between two or more variables. It examines how one behaviour relates to the occurrence of another. The correlation method implies that if we know the pattern of one behaviour, we can predict the pattern of behaviour. For example if we find a relationship between low socio economic status and aggressive behaviour we can predict that people in that situation may be more likely to display that kind of behaviour. The statistic ranging from -1.00 to +1.00 and 0 in between them. Correlation can be of three types.

a. Positive correlation. Increase in one variable is matched by another variable and decrease in one variable is matched by decrease in the other variable. For example, if the variable socio economic status increases, and the variable of aggressive behaviour increases or just the other way round. So the change in the variables is unidirectional.

b. Negative Correlation. Increase in one variable is matched by decrease in another variable or vice versa. Again, if the social economic status increases and the aggressive behaviour decreases or just the vice versa, then this is called Negative correlation. The increase or decrease is in the opposite direction.

c. No causation. That means a change in one variable does not cause a change in another variable.


Send to Kindle
Back to Top