L4 - Methods of Psychology Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in L4 - Methods of Psychology Deck (13):

Research Methods:

The lesson of Clever Hans (horse that could do "math"): To test specific hypotheses you need to constrain extraneous variables and focus on what you are manipulating (IV) = ↑ Control and analysis (at the cost of a more artificial experiment)

Ordered from Least → Most control:

  • Introspection
  • Naturalistic Observation
  • Case History
  • Survey
  • Test
  • Correlation
  • Experiment



  • "Looking inward"; Systematic/structured way of observing our own consciousness + a verbal report of our observations
  • Non-scientific, subjective (no separation between observer and observed), "mentalist" psychology
  • Underlies contemporary self-report methods


Naturalistic observation:

  • Objectively studying events naturally, without intervention
  • Good starting point but often difficult to remain objective without intervention (e.g. observe social interaction whilst not participating in it)


Case history/study:

  • Biography for a single individually obtained retrospectively; often via interviews
  • Essential in clinical psych etc. (using case studies as a form of "storytelling" is persuasive) but observations cannot be generalised
  • Paradigms: Biological, psychodynamic, humanistic



  • Quantitative measure of responses to questions; often via an interview or questionnaire of a large sample
  • Easy to perform but easily distorted (e.g. "What grade do you think you deserve?" Everyone would put a 7)



  • Quantitative measure of performance relative to a preset norm
  • E.g. Mid-semester exam



  • Statistical calculation of direction and degree of relationship between any 2+ variables ("what goes with what")
  • Correlation coefficient (f) = Degree (strength) and direction of covariance (relationship) between 2+ variables
    • Strength: How far value is from 0 with a range of -1 → +1 (correlation of -1 is same strength as + 1); closer to 0 = weaker correlation
    • Direction: Positive = Direct relationship; Negative = Inverse relationship; 0 = No relationship
  • Correlation fallacy: Even when strong, correlations CANNOT infer causality; there may be an additional variable (e.g. foot size of children is strongly correlated with intelligence but this is only because children with larger feet are usually older)



  • Method of manipulating one set of variables (IV) while observing & measuring the effect on another set (DV), with other factors being held equivalent (random & control variables)
  • If a change of IV = Significant change in DV, we can infer that the IV has a causal relationship with the DV
  • Paradigms: Behavioral, cognitive (e.g. The Stroop Effect), biological
  • “Research lives in correlation and experimental”


Common Sources of Bias (Distortion) in Research:

  • Sampling Bias
  • Subject Bias
  • Experimenter Bias
  • Operational Definitions


Sampling Bias:

  • Is the sample studied representative of the population of interest?
  • Affects generalisability of conclusions
  • Solution: careful design – don’t just test anyone/everyone


Subject Bias:

  • ‘Hawthorne’ or placebo effects
    • Early (1920s) research in the applied area of Industrial Psychology
    • What environmental factors affect worker productivity? (Hawthorne was the name of the production company)
    • The main experiment related to workplace lighting
  • Were the subjects responding to their expectations, rather than to the experimental manipulations?
  • Remember, the experimenters were with the subjects when changes were made
  • Solution: single ‘blind’ research – subjects are less aware of what’s going on



Experimenter Bias:

  • Rosenthal’ effects (Robert Rosenthal)
    • 1960s
    • Initial studies were on classroom students
    • Student ‘experimenters’ observed the learning behaviour of rats in two conditions: “dull” versus “smart” rats
  • Are the researchers influencing the behaviours they are observing?
  • Favours one group over the other
  • Solution: double ‘blind’ research – experimenter and subjects less aware of what’s going on



Operational Definitions:

  • Defining variables in terms of the operations (methods) used to observe/measure/manipulate them
  • Needs to be very clear what you are measuring