Research Methods

What is a hypothesis?
A clear, precise, testable statement that states the relationship between the investigated variables. Stated at the start of a study.
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What is an aim?
General statements that describe the purpose of the investigation.
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What are the two types of hypothesis?
Directional and non-directional.
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When do you use a directional hypothesis?
When previous research suggests a particular outcome.
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When do you use a non-directional hypothesis?
When previous research is contradictory or there is no research.
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How do you identify a directional hypothesis?
The difference will be stated using words such as more or less, or if it is a correlation, positive and negative.
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How do you identify a non-directional hypothesis?
The direction of the outcome will not be stated, but it will state there is a difference or correlation.
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How do you identify a null hypothesis?
It will state that nothing will happen.
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What is an experiment?
An experiment is a manipulation of the independent variable to see its effects on the dependent variable, and see if this causes the DV to change.
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What is operationalisation?
Clearly defining variables in terms of how the IV can be manipulated and the DV measured.
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What is wrong with this hypothesis? "Memory is better with immediate than delayed recall."
It is not operationalised, e.g. "More words will be recalled correctly if they are recalled immediately after learning than if they are recalled after a 30 second delay."
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What are extraneous variables?
Variables that can interfere with the effect on the DV.
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What are the two types of extraneous variable?
Situational and participant.
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Give an example of two situational variables.
Noise and time
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Give an example of two participant variables.
Age and intelligence
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What is the difference between a confounding variable and an extraneous variable?
An extraneous variable is a variable that could become a confounding variable. A confounding variable is an extraneous variable that has already impacted the effect of the DV.
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What are demand characteristics?
Cues from the researcher or researcher environment that may reveal the purpse of the investigation.
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What may happen as a result of demand characteristics?
The participants behaviour might change to please the researcher (Please-U) or sabotage the investigation (Screw-U).
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Why is validity compromised with demand characteristics?
It causes the participants to not act naturally.
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What are investigator effects?
Actions of the investigator that influence the research outcome.
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What are standardised instructions?
Formalised instructions that are read to all participants in the study, so the experience is the same.
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How do standardised instructions control for investigator effects?
Prevents the investigator from saying different things to participants.
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What are the three types of experimental design?
Independent groups, matched pairs, and repeated measures.
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Describe independent groups.
Participants are allocated to the different conditions of the IV.
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Describe matched pairs.
Participants are matched on a variable that may impact the DV. Then one member of the pair is assigned to condition A and the other to condition B.
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Describe repeated measures.
Participants do both conditions of the IV.
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What is the main limitation of independent groups?
Participant variables might alter the effect of the IV on the DV.
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Why should participants be randomly allocated in an independent groups design?
To reduce the chance of participant variables confounding the results.
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What are the two limitations of a repeated measures design?
Order effects and a potential for demand characteristics
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What are order effects?
When the order the participants do the conditions in affect the impact of the IV on the DV.
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How are order effects controlled?
Counterbalancing, as it allows for order effects to affect each condition equally.
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What are the strengths of matched pairs?
Does not require use of order effects as participants only take part in one condition, but the participant variables are controlled as each pair is similar.
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What is a limitation of matched pairs?
Time consuming and expensive, particularly if a pre-test is required to match them.
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What do all experimental methods have in common?
They all have a change in the IV that impacts the effect of the DV, which the researcher measures.
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How do both field and natural experiments differ from a laboratory experiment?
They are carried out in the real world rather than a controlled settting.
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Which experiment is: Obedience levels to confederate in uniform vs plain clothes?
Field- researcher manipulates IV
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Which experiment is: Obedience levels before and after a terrorist incident
Natural- researcher takes advantage of the naturally occuring IV
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Which experiment is: Obedience levels in men and women
Quasi- IV is a pre-existing difference
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What are the strengths of a lab experiment?
Best used for determining causality as it has high levels of control.
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What are the weaknesses of a lab experiment?
Low mundane realism.
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What are the strengths of a field experiment?
Higher mundane realism than lab, with same level of control of the IV
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What are the weaknesses of a field experiment?
More prone to influence of extraneous variables than lab.
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What are the strengths of a natural experiment?
High mundane realism
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What are the weaknesses of a natural experiment?
Low levels of control mean decreased internal validity
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What is meant by target population?
The demographic pool to whom the study applies
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What is meant by sample?
The group who participate in the research. It is drawn from a target population and presumed to be representative of that population.
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What is random sampling?
Where all members of the target population have an equal chance of being chosen, i.e. giving everyone a nu,ber and using a random number generator.
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What is systematic sampling?
Where every nth member of the target population is selctected, e.g. every 4th house on the street.
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What is stratified sampling?
Straified sampling is where the composition of the sample reflects the people within certain strata of the population, e.g. school years within school age children.
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What is opportunity sampling?
Oppotunity sampling is where the researcher takes who is avaliable and willing at the time.
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What is volunteer sampling?
Voulnteer samping is where participants select themselves to be part of the sample e.g. newspaper adverts.
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What is meant by 'bias' in sampling?
Bias is where the sample is over or under representative of certain groups.
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What is meant by 'generalisation' in sampling?
The extent to which the results of the sample population can be applied to the entire population.
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When do ethical issues arise in studies?
When the rights of the participant conflict with the researcher's goals to produce valid, authentic and worthwhile data.
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What is a strength of random sampling over opportunity sampling?
Free from researcher bias.
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What is the main strength of opportunity sampling?
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What is a strength of stratified sampling over random sampling?
More representative of the population, especially when sample size is low.
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What is a weakness of volunteer sampling?
Volunteer bias
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What is the BPS code of ethics?
Quasi-legal document drawn up by the British Psychological Society. Instructs UK psychologists about what behaviour towards partcipants is and is not acceptable.
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What is volunteer bias?
Those who are not willing to participate have a particular attitude or characteristics (e.g., especially busy or laziness).
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What is informed consent?
Where participants are aware of te aims of the research, the procedures, their rights and how their data will be used. Ppts. can then make a judgement about whether or not they would like to take part.
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How should informed consent be given?
Issuing a consent letter with information that may affect their decision to participate. This is then signed by the ppt (if +16) or by parent (if -16).
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What is 'deception'?
Deliberately misleading or witholdimg information from the participants.
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How is deception dealt with?
A full debrief is given at the end to make them aware of the true aims. It asks for retrospective consent.
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What is 'protection from harm'?
Participants shouldn't be placed at risk of physical/psychological harm, e.g. embarrassment, stress.
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How is protection from harm dealt with?
Counselling should be provided if the participant has been subject to harm.
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What is 'privacy and confidentiality?'
The right to control information about oneself.
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How is privacy and confidentiality dealt with?
Names are usually not recorded or published, which maintains anonymity.
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What is the right to withdraw?
The right to leave the study and remove information at any time.
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How is the right to wihdraw applied?
It is explained at the outset, but also given as an option at the end.
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What is a pilot study?
A pre-emptive, small scale version of the planned investigation, used to identify any potential issues.
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What is the aim of a pilot study?
To check that the procedure, materials and equipment work. This allows the researcher to identify potential issues and fix them, which saves time and money.
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Why are pilot studies not only for experiments?
They can be used in self-report methods such as questionnaires and interviews to re-word ambigious or leading questions. It can also be used to observational studies to check coding systems and to train observers.
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What is a single blind procedure?
Where participants are not told the aim of the research during the brief, as well as what conditions they are in or if there is any.
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What is the aim of a single blind procedure?
To control for demand characteristics.
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Explain the double blind procedure.
Neither the researche ror participant knows the aims of the investigation. This controls for researcher bias.
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When are double blind procedures usually used?
In medical/drug trials, to prevent the placebo effect. The treatment is given by someone independent of the research who does not know which drug is real and which are the placebo.
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Is observation an experimental or a non-experimental method?
Non-experimental. However it can be used within an experiment to measure the DV, e.g. Zimbardo's Social Prison Experiment.
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In whcih two types of envrionment can observation take place?
Controlled (a structured/designed situation, e.g. Strange Situation was a playroom with two-way mirrors) and naturalistic: setting within which behaviour would normally occur.
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What are the main strengths of controlled observations?
Easier to record data and replicate
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What are the main strengths of naturalistic observations?
High ecological validity, i.e. can generalise findings to the real world as observed behaviour is real.
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What are the main weaknesses of controlled observations?
Low ecological validity
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What are the main weaknesses of naturalistic observations?
Hard to record data and replicate conditions
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Which three choices need to be made to decide on the type of observation technique?
Naturalistic/controlled, overt/covert, participant/non-participant.
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What is a covert observation?
Watching participants without their knowledge or consent.
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What is an overt observation?
Watching participants with their knowledge and consent.
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What is a participant observation?
Researcher is part of the research group and interacts with the participants.
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What is a non-participant observation?
Researcher remains separate from whom they are studying.
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What are the main strengths of covert observations?
Removes the problem of participant reactivity, so the results are more valid.
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What are the main strengths of overt observations?
More ethically acceptable as informed consent is given.
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What are the main strengths of participant observations?
Gives the researcher increased insight into the people being studied, which may increase the validity of the findings.
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What are the main strengths of non-participant observations?
The researcher maintains distance from the research group, and so remains objective as they cannot identify with them.
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What are the main weaknesses of covert observations?
Ethically questionable, people may not want their behaviours noted down.
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What are the main weaknesses of overt observations?
The knowledge of being watched may influence the participants behaviour.
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What are the main weaknesses of participant observations?
The researcher may identify with the group too strongly and lose objectivity.
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What are the main weaknesses of non-participant observations?
May lose valuable insight as they are too far removed from the group they are studying.
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What is the difference between unstructured and structured interviews?
Unstructured interviews will have a topic to discuss, but no set questions, whereas structured interviews will have a set of questions that are asked to every participant.
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What is the difference between unstructured and structured observations?
In structured observations, the researcher has a set list of behaviour to observe, whereas in unstructured the observer writes down everything they see.
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Why might an unstructured observation be appropriate to use over a structured observation?
When observations are small scale with few participants, so that lots of data can be extracted.
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What are behavioural categories?
Used to break down behaviour into observable and measurable components so the data is operationalised. Each category is precisely designed to reduce subjectivity. They should not overlap.
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What are two examples of sampling methods in observations?
Time and event sampling.
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Explain 'event sampling'.
Counting the times a particular behaviour occurs. It is useful when the target behaviour occurs infrequently.
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Explain 'time sampling.'
Recording behaviour in a pre-established time frame. It is effective in reducing the amount of observations that have to be made. However it might be unrepresentative of the observation as a whole.
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How is inter-observer reliability assessed?
Behaviour categories are adjusted as needed after a pilot study conducted together, then the real study is carried out with behaviour observed separately. Observations are then correlated to look for consistency.
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Name two self-report techniques.
Questionnaires and interviews.
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Describe open questions.
Do not have a fixed range of answers. Respondents are free to answer in any way they wish. Produce qualitative data that is rich in depth and detail
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Describe closed questions.
Offer a fixed number of responses. Can be yes/no or scale of 1-10. Produce numerical data which is easy to analyse.
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Describe structured interviews.
Made up of a pre-determined set of questions that are asked in a fixed order. Similar to a questionnaire but conducted face-to-face.
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Describe unstructured interviews.
No set questions. General aim that a certain topic will be discussed. Interviewee is encouraged to expand and elaborate their answers. Similar to a conversation.
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


What is an aim?


General statements that describe the purpose of the investigation.

Card 3


What are the two types of hypothesis?


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


When do you use a directional hypothesis?


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


When do you use a non-directional hypothesis?


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