Research in psychology exam GCSE level

Cards include key words, definitions and also explanations needed to the complete the 'Research in Psychology' exam confidently.


  • pps = short for participants
  • Created by: Siena
  • Created on: 25-01-12 18:27

Researchers intentions/definitions

 Hypothesis- A statement predicting the outcome of research eg. 'Type of uniform affects levels of obedience'

Alternate Hypothesis- A difference 'predicts a difference in results'

Null- No difference 'predicts no difference in results'


Independent Variable = Something the reseacher manipulates

Dependent Variable = Something that is measured to see if it has changed

Extraneous Variables = Variables which are not the IV *independent variable but could affect the DV if not controlled. Eg. The mood of the person in the Bickman study.

Standardisation = A way of controlling extraneous Variables; to keep variables the same across the same conditions e.g ask the same question the same way to all pps.

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Repeated/Independent groups design

Experimental Design: A way of allocating participants to conditions in an experiment

Repeated measures design- An experimental design in which participants take part in each condition

Advantages of Repeated measures design:

  • Using some participants for both experiments mean any differences are 'real', not due to using different people.
  • You don't need to use as many participants

Disadvantages of Repeated measures design:

  • Participants can under form on the second trial due to boredom or being tired. (The ORDER EFFECT)
  • Participants can do better in the second trail as they may improve with practise (The ORDER EFFECT)

Independent groups design- An experimental design in which participants are different in each condition

Advantages of Independent Groups design:

  • Gets rid of the order effect

Disadvantages of Independent Groups design:

  • Differences recorded may be due to individual differences not the independent variable
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Sampling Techniques

A sample is a smaller group  selected from a larger population.

Target Population is the entire set of people researchers want to generalize their results to.

Representative = An accurate reflection of a larger group

Random Sampling- A sample for which everyone in the target population has an equal chance of being chosen.

  • ADVANTAGE - No bias in who is being chosen
  • DISADVANTAGE - It is not always practical, especially as the population is large.

Opportunity Sampling- A sample drawn from the target population because they are available and convenient.

  • ADVANTAGE - Quick and easy to use
  • DISADVANTAGE - Participants are not representative, people who volunteer may be more confident than the average person.

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Ethical considerations = Taking into account the welfare of pps during research

Informed Consent- When a participant agrees to take part in a study and knows what the aim of the study is

Right to withdraw- When a participant is allowed to stop participating in a study all together, at this time of decision, they should be also allowed to take any data that was collected about them away

Confidentiality- Protecting the identity of the participants, by not revealing names/other various details about them

Protection of participants:

  • Participants should not be deceived... NOT EVER BE DECEIVED!!!! (about the aim or features of the study)
  • Participants should not be caused discomfort or embarrassment
  • Participants should not be caused unnecessary distress
  • Participant should not be caused physical harm or be put at risk of harm
  • Participants should generally leave a study in the same state as when they entered
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Analysing Research

Types of data...

           Quantitative data = Numerical Data / Note 'quan' for quantity, so numbers

- Numerical Data that can be plotted on graphs etc.

           Qualitative data = Descriptive data / Note 'lit' for literature, so words

- Descriptive data is data that summerhouses patterns and trends in Numerical Data

Taking averages...

Mode = Most popular score in a data set

Median = The middle score when a data set is in numerical order

Mean = The total data divided by the number of scores in it

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Overt Observation - To observe people with their knowledge

Advantage = More ethical because the pps have given consent

Disadvantage = pps behave differently, they know they are being watched, less realiable results, links to Observer effect

Covert Observation - To observe people without them knowing

Advantage = People behave more naturally because they don't know they are being observed

Disadvantage = Difficult to record data without being discovered, if you get a question about this, say something about the benefits of video recording the pps

Participant Observation -To observe people whilst joining into their activities

Advantage = Researcher gets to experience the situation from the pps point of view, giving more realistic results

Disadvantage = Researcher can affect the dynamics of the

Non-Partcipant Observation - To observe people from a distance 

Advantage = Researcher can be more objective (notice things he/she wouldn't have if in with the group)

Disadvantage = Researcher can miss details because they are separate from the group

Questions about observations may include;

  • List one Observation you'd have to carry out
  • The most appropriate observation
  • Write out a study plan for 5 year olds in a primary school, include observations that you'd consider

Observations list

With their knowledge - Overt

Without their knowledge - Covert

Joining in with their activities - Participant

Observing from a distance - Non-participant

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Case Study

A Case Study is an in-depth analysis of one person or group e.g Genie the wild child or Bruce/Brenda. Methods can include looking at medical records etc

Often the individual or group is studied because it is different in some way

  • ADVANTAGE - Can gather lots of information in detail
  • DISADVANTAGE - Low ecological validity, can't generlise one case to everyone
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A truly fabulous resource for anyone who feels unstuck with research methods! This would be great for GCSE and A Level students alike.

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