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Psychology Research Designs

by: Mikaela Notetaker

Psychology Research Designs Psyc 2010-003

Mikaela Notetaker
Sac State
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These notes describe the different research techniques and methods psychologists and researchers use for particular cases and experiments. Enjoy!
PSYC 2 - Introductory Psychology
Dr. Harrison
Class Notes
Intro to Psychology, Experiments




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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Mikaela Notetaker on Saturday September 17, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Psyc 2010-003 at California State University Sacramento taught by Dr. Harrison in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 99 views. For similar materials see PSYC 2 - Introductory Psychology in Psychology (PSYC) at California State University Sacramento.


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Date Created: 09/17/16
Psychology 2: Research Designs --Types of Research Methods-- Background understanding:​ In order to obtain an understanding of the world, scientists must observe and experiment. Example: With the discovery of dinosaur bones, scientists must experiment and make educated guesses with its bone content in order to discover how life was different in the prehistoric times. This [observing and experimenting] is called science because science is the result of studying the natural world. The foundation of science is o ​ bservation​ which then can lead to formulating a hypothesis Example: You observe a change of color in the pond in your back ground. You hypothesize the frogs and insects that visit the pond are the causes to the change of color. Starting key point:​ There are many ways to test an hypothesis, but the way to do so depends on the question being asked and the resources available. Because there are many methods to approaching research, there are two common types of psychological research:​ experimental a ​ nd​ correlational research. ​ A. Experimental Research: ‘ ​ou are the Scientist’ Simulation a. Involves​ abstract concepts​ (happiness, intelligence, stress, etc.) that are then converted to operational definitions (how scientists measure abstract concepts) b. YOU ARE a scientist and you would like to experiment on the abstract concept of happiness and how money (spending on oneself or others) affects it. c. The​ independent variable​ in this experiment is the variable that you manipulate and cause changes. Ex. Whether your research participants would spend money on themselves or others. d. The ​dependent variable​ in this experiment is the variable that is not manipulated but affected by the changes brought on by the independent variable. Ex. The level of happiness your participants express i. In other words, the level of happiness of the participants depend on whether they have to spend on themselves or for others. e. The most important thing to consider about experiments is r ​ andom assignment: ​ a random method of choosing the experimental condition of participants (ex. A roll of the die determines whether the participant spends money on themselves or others); this method is done to prevent any participant from choosing an experimental condition biasedly. i. This method also allows factors (people who had a bad day, people who had a good day) from affecting the outcome of level of happiness f. It is also good to prevent ​ onfounds​ (factors that prevent you from drawing a conclusion based on evidence and reasoning) from being in the experiment. (Ex. if you gave your participants happy pills during the experiment then they will have the expectation of being happy; this will affect the dependent variable) i. Confounds: 1. Placebo effect: w ​ hen a participant knows he or she is receiving special treatment and it affects his or her behavior. 2. Participant demand:​ when a participant acts a certain way he or she thinks the experimenter would like for him or her to act. 3. Experimenter expectations: w ​ hen the experimenter expects results from participants who were given special treatment that may not be really there. ii. To prevent confounds, a​ double-blind procedure ​must be done; when neither the participant or the experimenter knows what condition the participant is in. B. Correlational Designs a. Research where scientists observe phenomena and do not change variables; this type of research strictly focuses on relationships or patterns discovered; unfortunately in this experiment, scientists do not know the causes of the phenomena. b. Can only focus on two variables at a time, no more or less c. Ex. Instead of giving money to the participants to observe their level of happiness after spending on themselves or others, a scientist can simply ask about their past actions and observe whether it made these participants happy to give or to spend on themselves. d. Can plot the relation of two variables on a correlation graph i. The ​correlation coefficient​ defines how strong the association is between two variables (95% strength indicates a strong relationship); a positive correlation has an upward direction. ii. If an association contains many exceptions (ex. In the money-happiness experiment, if there are exceptions where people are happy just by not spending on others then the association is a weak correlation) iii. Correlation is not causation! It is data that has been observed C. Qualitative Designs a. Another type of experiment (consisting of participant observation, case studies, narrative analysis) that can confront hard-to-understand cases. i. Participant observation- ​ a method where the researcher takes part of the experimental group in order to study the dynamics. Ex. A group of scientists enter themselves in a cult to observe their behaviour. ii. Case study- i ​ ntense examination of individuals; Sigmund Freud (the father of psychoanalysis) used this method a lot; this method exemplifies special cases where it is hard to find another source to experiment on (brain injury subjects; can’t inflict brain damage on participants to learn about the brain) iii. Narrative analysis- ​ studying personal stories of people; no direct engagement with participant; analyzing themes, structures, perspectives of individuals or groups to understand their psychology. D. Quasi-Experimental designs a. Similar to experimental designs except random assignments are not used; relationships are needed (these relationships are the independent variables) b. Inference is hard to make because one group may be differ in many ways compared to the other group c. Ex. You want to see if Dr. K’s class is better than Dr. M’s class; you can’t force students to join either classes so you have to observe the students already in the class E. Longitudinal Design a. Experiment where the same people are tracked for a period of time (weeks, months, years) b. This type of study provides valuable evidence in testing psychological theories c. This experiment is financially costly. F. Surveys a. Method of gathering info using questionnaires b. This method can gather more participants at a lower financial cost Determining the type of Research Method: Consider budget costs Consider time- how much do you have? Consider ethics of the study


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