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Flashcards in research methods Deck (69)
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what is an aim?

A general statement of what the researcher intends to investigate. It always begins with 'To investigate'.


what is a hypothesis?

A statement made at the start of a study that clearly states the relationship between variables as stated by the theory. ie drinking speedupp causes people to become more talkative.

There are two types: directional and non-directional.

Directional: states the direction of the difference or relationship

Non-directional: does not state the direction.


How do psychologists decide whether to use a directional or non directional hypothesis.

A directional hypothesis is used when there are previous studies which suggest a particular outcome.

A non directional hypothesis is used when there is no existing evidence or if findings are contradictory.


How is the effect of an independent variable tested?

By using different experimental conditions. A control condition is compared to an experimental condition.


What is operationalisation?

Clearly defining variables in terms of how they can be measured. This should be in a hypothesis.


What are laboratory experiments?

Experiments conduced in a highly controlled environment but not always a lab.

Strength: High control over extraneous variables. Researcher can ensure that the effect on the dependant variable is caused by the independent one, High internal validity. Replication is possible.

Limitations: Low ecological validity. Demand characteristics: unnatural behaviour. low mundane realism (not like in real life)


What are field experiments?

The independent variable is manipulated in a more natural setting.

Strength: higher mundane realism. More valid and authentic behaviour.

Limitations: Loss of control over extraneous variables. Precise replication not possible, Ethical issues if people are unaware they are being studied they cannot consent and this could be an invasion of their privacy.


What are natural experiments?

Natural experiments are when the change in the independent variable would have happened whether or not the researcher was there, not caused by him. The setting may or may not be natural (could be in a lab).

Strength: opportunities for research that may not otherwise be undertaken for ethical and practical reasons/ Natural experiments have high ecological validity.

Limitation: naturally occurring events may be rare. May be hard to generalise to other situations. Participants may not be randomly allocated and psychologists cannot distinguish whether the DV or this is effecting the IV.


What is a quasi experiment?

When the independent variable is based on an existing difference between people like age or gender.

Strength: controlled conditions, no extraneous variables

Limitation: confounding variables as cannot be randomly allocated.


What are ethical issues?

arise when there is a conflict between the rights of participants and the goals to produce authentic data.


What are the four major ethical issues?

Informed consent- making participant aware of the aim and procedure and their right to withdraw and what data will be used for. This sometimes causes demand characteristics.

Deception- Deliberately misleading or withholding information from participants This can be justified if it doesn't cause undue distress.

Protection from harm- participants should not be placed at more risk than they would be in their everyday lives. They should be protected from physical and psychological harm such as feeling embarrassed. They should be reminded of their right to withdraw at any point.

Privacy and confidentiality: patients have the right to control information about themselves including where the study took place.


What are the four ways of dealing with ethical issues?

The BPS code of conduct: includes a set of ethical guidelines. These are implemented by ethics committees.

Participants should sign a consent letter and children should have parents sign one. This deals with informed consent.

Participants should be debriefed at the end of the study where they are made aware of all aspects of the study. They should be given their right to withhold data and the researcher should provide counseling if needed. This deals with deception and protection from harm.

Maintaining anonymity and using initials or numbers deals with confidentiality.


What is the experimental method?

n experiment where the IV is manipulated to measure the effect on the DV. It could be a lab, natural, quasi or field experiment.


What is a null hypothesis?

A null hypothesis is always required and states that results were due to chance rather than the IV.


What is an alternative hypothesis?

A hypothesis that states that there is a relationship between variables being studied and so the results are not due to chance.


Name all variables which need to be controlled.

Demand characteristics
Extraneous variables
Confounding variables
Investigator bias


Explain demand characteristics.

Demand characteristics are any cue from the situation or researcher which might be interpreted as revealing the purpose of the investigation and lead to participants changing their behaviour. This includes the 'screw you effect' where participants deliberately try to sabotage the experiment and the 'please you effect' where participants try to act as expected.


Explain Extraneous variables.

Extraneous variables are any variable other than the IV which could be affecting the DV.


Explain confounding variables.

A variable that changes systematically with the when one group is affected and another is not. for example, personalities of people in different groups may be very different.


Explain randomisation.

Using chance to control effects of bias when designing materials and deciding the order of conditions. ie. random allocation, counterbalancing.


Explain investigator effects.

Investigator effects are any unwanted influence of the investigator on the research outcome.
expectancy effects
unconscious cues
participant selection


Explain standardisation.

Using the same formalised procedures and instructions for all participants.


What is an experimental design and name the different types.

An experimental design is the way in which participants are used.
Repeated measures
Matched pairs
Independent groups/measures


Explain and evaluate independent groups design.

Participants are allocated to different groups (experimental/control) where each group represents one condition, and the results of different groups are compared to each other. Each participant only experiences one condition of the experiment.

+ no order effects
+ participants less likely to guess aim (demand characteristics)
- participant variables (dealt with through random allocation)
- less economical


Explain and evaluate the repeated measures design.

All participant take part in all conditions of the experiment (control+experimental)

- order effects (dealt with through counterbalancing)
- demand characteristics (participants likely guess aim)
+ no participant variables
+ fewer people needed


Explain and evaluate the matched pairs design.

Participants are matched with another participant on a variable that may effect the DV. They become a pair and then are each assigned to a different condition and their results are compared.

+ no order effects
+ fewer demand characteristics
- participant variables
- time consuming and expensive


Define the term population.

A group of people who are the focus of the researcher's interest , from which a smaller sample is drawn.


What must a sample be?

- representative of the target population


Name all the different types of sampling.



Explain and evaluate volunteer sampling.

Volunteer sampling is when participants self-select themselves for a sample. For examplel, they put their hand up when asked or respond to an advert.

+ easy and time effective
- volunteer bias (attracts a certain type of person)