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Flashcards in Chapter 9 Deck (122):

Descriptive Research Methods

1) Quantitative -  explore objective facts

2) Qualitative - explore subjective meanings


Quantitative Methods (4)

1) interviews

2) questionnaires

3) surveys

4) psychological tests

a) psychometric tests

b) projective tests


Quantitative Methods → 1) Interviews

gathering facts


Quantitative Methods → 2) Questionnaires

anonymously estimate characteristics of population based on sample


Quantitative Methods → 3) Surveys


defined by purpose not form


Quantitative Methods → 4) Psychological Tests


assess traits of individual

a) Psychometric - examine performance relative to norm (academic ability, personality)

b) Projective - infer characteristics based on reaction to stimuli

  • problem - scoring



Qualitative Methods → 1) Qualitative Interview

subjective experience



Qualitative Methods → 2) Focus Groups

  • Benefits 

interview in groups


  • interpersonal dynamics can be examined 
  • can interview multiple people at a time


Qualitative Methods → 3) Ethnographic Research

cross-cultural investigations

- examine sub-cultures in mainstream culture


Qualitative Methods → 4) Historical Research


examine past events based on historical records



Descriptive Research Methods → Advantages (7)



1) Ecological Validity - studies relationships among variables as they naturally occur

2) Economy - cheaper

3) Practical Reasons - more applicable, hard to use exp. method

4) Ethical Reasons

5) Qualitative

6) Correlations

7) Preliminary to Experimental Research


Qualitative Methods (4)

1) qualitative interview

2) focus group

3) ethnographic research

4) historical research


Quantitative Methods → 1) Interviews

gathering info about people by conversing with them in face-to-face dialogue


Quantitative Methods → 1) Interviews


General Requirements (7)

1) Establishment of Rapport

2) Statement of Purpose

3) Detached/Objective Attitude

4) Staying on Topic

5) Careful Wording of Questions

6) Knowing When to End

7) Accurate Record of Interviews


General Requirements of Interviews

1) Establishment of Rapport

comfortability, small talk

close/harmonious relationship in which people  concerned understand each other's feelings/ideas and communicate well.



General Requirements of Interviews

2) Statement of Purpose

main way interviews differ from conversation

articulating the particular goal/theme of interview


General Requirements of Interviews

3) Detached/Objective Attitude

midpoint between cold/harsh & personally/emotionally invested or involved

- attitude conveyed is one that is personable but not personally involved


General Requirements of Interviews

4) Staying on Topic

not to stray too much from main theme/topic


General Requirements of Interviews

5) Careful Wording of Questions


as clear & unambiguous as possible

(2) types of questions to avoid:

1) Ambiguous - can be interpreted in 2 or more ways (how are you liking your classes?)

2) Loaded - suggests what answer should be (when's the last time you cheated on a test?)


General Requirements of Interviews

7) Accurate Record of Interviews

video or audio recording

- to record how something is said (tone of voice) & nonverbal gestures (anxious, looking around)



Types of Interviews (4)


1) Unstructured Interview

2) Structured Interview

3) Standardized Structured Interview

4) Mixed Question Interview


1) Unstructured Interview

interviews in which interviewer provides minimal direction to interviewee


2) Structured Interview



interviews with pre-specified:

1) set of topics

2) order of discussion


3) Standardized Structured Interview

interviews with pre-specified:

1) wording of questions

2) order of questions


4) Mixed Question Interview




interviews using different kinds of questions

1) open-ended

2) fixed option (closed-ended)

3) rating scale questions


(diminished benefits of interview style)


Problems with Interviews (3)

1) Interviewer Bias

2) Interviewee Dishonesty (Social Desirability)

3) Implementation Costs


1) Interviewer Bias

- (2) types

affect amount & quality of info given

1) personal bias - eye contact, personal characteristics, tone of voice

2) social/ethnic bias - class → age, SES, gender, ethnicity, racial background



2) Interviewer Dishonesty (Social Desirability)



visible presence fosters social desirability more than in questionnaires

- choose alternative that is more socially acceptable or desirable


3) Implementation Costs

  • (3) types

1) Training Costs - of interviewers

2) Travel Costs - to interview

3) Administration Costs - making/cancelling appointments, coordinating etc.


Advantages of Interviews (5)



  1. know who person is
  2. higher response rate- hard to turn down personal request
  3. best way to gain sensitive info (psych disorders, intrapersonal relationships)
  4. flexibility- correct misinterpretations
  5. monitor non-verbal behavior - facial expression, gesture, paraliniguistics, body language


(5) main steps in designing a questionnaire

1) determine purpose

2) determine types of questions

3) write the items

4) determine how data will be analyzed

5) determine method of administration


1) determine purpose


what do i expect to accomplish?


2) determine types of questions


closed-ended - limits respondents to alternatives determined in advance by questionnaire's design

open-ended - answer in own words 


3) write the items

(7) tips on composing good questionnaire items 

1) address single issue per item

2) avoid bias

3) make alternatives clear

4) beware of social desirability tendency

5) beware of acquiescence 

6) determine format of item

7) sequence items 


1) address single issue per item


unambiguous, clear 

not double-barreled


2) avoid bias


write Q in way that will not bias results 


do you beleive in killing unborn babies?

should women be forced to bear unwanted children?


3) make alternatives clear


particular need to write closed-ended Qs in a way that options are distinctly different from each other & they cover all possibilities

→ answers must be exhaustive mutually exclusive 



categories defined so that all possible cases will fall into one of them 


all cases must fall into 1 or another of the alternatives


Mutually Exclusive 

categories defined so that membership in one rules out membership in another 

 no individual case could belong to more than one category at a time 


4) beware of social desirability tendency


characteristic of certain responses that cause people to choose it even if it does not represent their true tendency/opinion

bias when respondents percieve one alternative as more socially acceptable than another


What is used to detect dishonest answers?

Verification Key: set of questions designed to detect dishonest

& if person has tendency to be overly influenced by social desirability 


5) beware of acquiescence 

what questionnaire format is highly susceptible to this bias?

tendency to agree with statement on a question regardless of its content

– (Questionnaire with all binary closed-ended Qs are highly susceptible to bias caused by this) 


6) Determine format of item

depends on type of question (T/F, MC, ratings) 

visual analog scale

likert scale

branching items


Visual Analog Scale (VAS) 

- can be used to indicate?

question that askes for response by marking line b/w min max values for statement 

can be used to indicate respondent's degree of agreement/disagreement with a particular position


Likert Scale

question asking for rating of the extent of agreement/disagreement with a statement → a rating scale 


Branching Items

set of Qs that enable respondent to move through survey in different ways depending upon responses 


7) Sequence the Items

order of items → answers to Qs may be biased if they follow some others 

start off broad & get more specific to topic of interest

example: before asking about campus security, you would want to know if security was even an issue with students 


4) Determine how Data will be Analyzed

how questionnaire is to be scored analyzed 


- decide what statistics to use, if you will be able to draw proper conclusions from data

- if you think certain groups of people may answer differently → need Qs to permit classification on these dimensions


5) Determine Method of Administration

(4) modes 

1) Face-to-Face

2) Written Response

3) Computerized Administration

4) Telephone Administration


Define and distinguish between open-ended and closed-ended questions.


Open: answer in own words

Closed: limits respondents to pre-determined alternatives 



Advantages & Disadvantages of:

a) Open-ended Qs


ADVANTAGES: can answer more completely, reveal reasoning, more likely to discover something not anticipated in design

DISADVANTAGESharder to code b/c answers in narrative form, categorize responses after (breaks cardinal rule) 


Advantages & Disadvantages of:

b) Closed-ended Qs

ADVANTAGES: easier to code, fewer off-the-wall answers, dont need to think as hard or be as articulate to formulate 

DISADVANTAGES: issues may be too complex to reduce to small set of alternatives, may not agree with any, puts words in mouth, misinterpretation of Q is hard to discover


How is the social desirability tendency detected?

by using a verification key - a set of questions designed to detect dishonest answers & if a person has tendency to be overly influenced by social desirability 


Acquiescence Tendency

tendency to agree with statement on question regardless of its content


Branching Items

  • advantages

set of Qs that enable respondents to move through questionnaire in different ways depending upon responses

  • can skip innapropriate/irrelevant Qs & more through more efficiently


(4) methods of administrating a questionnaire



  1. face-to-face
  2. written responses
  3. computerized administration
  4. telephone administration


Advantages (5) & Disadvantages (3) of:



Face-to-Face Administration

  • establish rapport
  • direct attention to material
  • motive them to answer carefully
  • guarantee order of administration
  • correct misinterpretations


  • social desirability tendency
  • expensive
  • time-consuming


Advantages & Disadvantages of:


Written Responses


  • efficient use of time & money
  • low cost


  • lower response rate
  • possible misinterpretation
  • can't determine seriousnes of respondent


Advantages & Disadvantages of:



Computerized Administration


  • control sequencing & branching
  • reduce social desirability
  • available 24/7
  • allow high level of participation without high cost


  • same problems as written responses
  • security of responding
    • storage of survey info must be ensured without violating privacy of respondent


Advantages & Disadvantages of:



Telephone Administration

  • low cost
  • computer-assisted interview
  • conducted from central location & interviewers can be supervised


  • reduced external validity →less people with home phones


Problems created by low response rates to surveys


- data from people motivated to respond

- biased in direction of more vocal people

- quality of data is direct function of response rate

→researchers need at least 50% & prefer 90%


(4) types of samples

1) Haphazard

2) Purposive

3) Convenience

4) Probability


1) Haphazard Sample


popn subgroup selected using hit-or-miss

→ does not follow any systematic way of selecting participants




2) Purposive Sample


non-random sample chosen for some characteristic it possesses

ex) survey opinions of presidents of several leading colleges about desirable changes in college curriculum


3) Convenience Sample


non-random sample chosen for practical reasons


4) Probability Sample


sample selected in way as to be representative of population

- most rely on random sampling

- permit one to apply various statistics


Random Sample

sample in which every member of popn has equal & independant chance of being selected


Sampling Frame


population as it is defined for purposes of selecting subjects for study

→popn that you work with for particular study




individual member of a sampling frame


Systematic Sample



probability sample that is not randomly selected


Problems using Systematic Samples


structure may result in bias

taking every nth individual of structured list may result in bias


(3) types of random samples


1) Simple Random

2) Stratified Random

3) Cluster


1) Simple Random Sample


group chosen from entire popn such that every member has equal & independant chance of being selected in a single sample


2) Stratified Random Sample


2 or more subsamples are represented according to some predetermined proportion, generally in same proportion as they exist in popn


(treat popn as 2 or more subpopulations & create seperate random sample of each)


ex) same-sex ratio, age ratio etc.


3) Cluster Sample

group selected using clusters/groupings from larger population


ex) rather than taking 1/10 students of each class, randomly select 1/10 of classes to study



Multistage Sampling



form of cluster sampling in which clusters are further broken down by taking samples from each cluster


ex) selecting one or more highschols within each geographical area & then selecting seniors within each


Quantitative Methods → 2) Questionnaires

gathering info about people anonymously using standardized series of Qs


Components of Questionnaire (4)

1) Preamble → intro of purpose & instructions

2) Identification Questions→ demographic Qs, background info

3) Research Questions → make up data

4) Branching Instructions


Types of Questionnaire Items (7)




1) Fixed-Option

2) Rating Scale

3) Yes-No

4) True-False

5) Likert-Scale (Agree-Disagree)

6) Funnel Questions

7) Open-ended Questions


1) Fixed-Option

Qs with qualitatively distinct response alternatives



2) Rating Scale

Qs with quantitatively distinct response alternatives

  • 3 types


(3) types of Rating-Scale Items



1) Categorical → quantitative dimension but response based on adjective

2) Numerical → represented more explicitly in numerical form

3) Graphical → for responses on continuum (mark vertical line along horizontal line)


3) Yes-No

Binary-choice Qs on matters of fact


4) True-False



Binary decision Qs on particular theme


5) Likert-Scale (Agree-Disagree)

Qs on attitudes or opinions


6) Funnel Questions



series of related Qs soliciting progressively more detailed information


discourages dishonest answers b/c have to follow-up

branching items within


7) Open-ended Questions




Qs that respondents can answer in their own words


Sources of Questionnaire Bias (2)


1) Question Bias

2) Response Bias


1) Question Bias

  •  (4) types

1) Double-barreled

2) Loaded

3) Leading

4) Double Negatives


1) Double-barreled



items that ask 2 seperate Qs simultaneously


2) Loaded

items that contain emotionally charged or value-laden term


"do you feel sleazy magazine should be openly displayed at local newstands?"


3) Leading Qs



items that tend to influence responses in a certain direction

do you agree with most federal policy analysts that reducing deficit is our most urgent fiscal priority?


4) Double Negatives



items that use 2 negative expressions to convey a positive idea


2) Response Bias

  • (4) types


1) Acquiescence ("Yea-Saying")

2) Dissension ("Nay-Saying")

3) Deviation

4) Social Desirability


1) Acquiescence ("Yea-Saying")

2) Dissension ("Nay-Saying")


1) tendency to agree with items regardless of their content

2) endency to disagree with items regardless of their content


Solution to Response Bias caused by Acquiescence & Dissension?

Balanced Items



T/F Qs:

some of my high school friends enjoy reading

none of my high school friends enjoy reading


3) Deviation


tendency to answer items in extreme way regardless of their content



4) Social Desirability


tendency to answer questions in socially acceptable way regardless of correctness of answer


Solution to Response Bias? (specifically Deviation & Social Desirability)


Forced-choice Inventory


Choose A or B:

  • A: I like to read in my spare time
  • B: I am active in sports
  • A: I feel like blaming others when things go wrong
  • B: I feel that I am generally inferior to others


General tips on Questionnaire Wording (5)

1) avoid words with double meaning

2) avoid overly lengthy questions

3) ask questions based on respondent's own experience

4) Design entire questionnaire around theoretical rationale

5) Pre-test questionnaire on test sample


Quantitative Methods → 3) Surveys


administering interview/questionnaire to sample of individuals to estimate characteristic of population


Confidence level

probability that true population value falls within tolerance level 


Tolerance Level (Precision)

range of values within which true population value falls with specified probability


Reasons for Sampling (3) 

1) Feasability → less expensive/time-consuming 

2) Accuracy → less errors (people may not answer seriously or misinterpret data) 

3) Unobtrusiveness


Sample size determined by? (3) 

1) confidence & tolerance levels 

2) type of sampling design used

3) variability (increases with increased size)


Sampling Designs (2) 

Probability Sampling

Nonprobability Sampling 


Probability vs. Nonprobability sampling


Probability →known probability of each person falling in sample 

→allows for statistical analysis

Nonprobability → unknown probability of individual being in sample


Types of Probability Sampling (3) 

1) Simple Random

2) Cluster

3) Stratified


Probability Sampling → 1) Simple Random

Sampling such that every member of population has equal & independent chance of being selected


Probability Sampling → 2) Cluster Sampling 

random sampling in (2) phases:

  • primary selection units (cluster, groups
  • secondary selection units (individuals within groups


Probability Sampling → 3) Stratified Sampling 

random sampling from mutually exclusive & exhaustive strata in population 


Types of Stratified Sampling (2) 

1) Proportional Stratified Sampling

2) Equal Stratified Sampling 


1) Proportional stratified sampling

sample size of each stratum is proportionate to population size

(each stratum has the same sampling fraction)


2) Equal Stratified Sampling 

each strata is determined percentage of sample 


Haphazard Sampling

according to who is around 


Purposive Sampling

non-random sample chosen for some characteristic it possesses


Convenience Sampling

chosen for availability/convenience


Systematic Sampling

picked in systematic way (violates independance principle)


Quota Sampling

try to match up characteristics (ex. male vs female)


Quantitative Methods → (4) Psychological Tests 

administering standardized test to measure sample of individual’s behavior 


Psychological Tests - (4) types

1) Aptitude

2) Achievement

3) Personality

4) Projective