Week One Notes
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This 9 page Class Notes was uploaded by Brittany Lopez on Sunday October 16, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Psy 7 RMH at LSBU taught by Dr Zoë Boden in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 4 views. For similar materials see Research Methods for Mental Health in Psychology at LSBU.
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Date Created: 10/16/16
Qualitative Methods: Introduction and Data Collection Week One Quantitative Research Methods o A review Assign numerical scores or values to variable Transform behavioral or observational data into numbers The magnitude of the numerical value indicates the degree to which an individual possesses a certain characteristic or quality E.g. IQ Permits easy comparison of individuals or groups But may only provide partial answers to research questions Limitations of Quantitative Research o Quantification may miss out on, or fail to deal with, important aspects of the research area A premature abstraction from the subject Heavily focused on numbers and statistics rather than concepts o May alienate participants May feel that research is about number or averages, not about them as individuals o The principles of universalism Historically, psychology has assumed that the principles of human behavior are the same for all people, regardless of culture or society Psychologists have been interested in making generalizations about behavior that hold across all circumstances Recently, this has begun to change with a greater awareness of, and respect for, non-Western cultures and societal differences Quantitative Research: The Case Against o 'Quantitative research requires the reduction of phenomena to numerical values in order to carry out statistical analyses…' (Smith, 2003, p. 1) o Is a reductionist process There is another way o Qualitative research in psychology '…a concern with human experiences in its richness…qualitative research in psychology focuses on experiences." (ashworth, 2003, p.4) o "Qualitative procedures provide a means of accessing unquantifiable facts about the actual people researchers observe and talk to…" (Berg, 2006. P. 8) The "Way to the Goal" o Research methods are 'the way to the goal' (Kvale, 1996, p.278) o So…there are different ways to get to different goals o What is our goal? How do we justify it? What constitutes it? o We need to adopt an ontological and epistemological position i.e. a perspective from which to approach our goal Principles of Qualitative Research o Qualitative research asks different questions, and therefore needs different methods to quantitative research o Both quant and qual are empirical methods o Qualitative research collects words (and sometimes images or movements) as data o Within qualitative data-collection and analysis Everyday Experience of Qualitative Approaches o Listening carefully to the story your friend is telling you and empathizing with them, then reflecting on your own perception and interpretation of it (IPA) o Comparing what you wee in the media to your own experiences (Discourse Analysis) o "Darling, what's the matter?" "Nothing." (Conversation Analysis) o Telling a parent about your weekend and editing what you tell them (Narrative analysis) Key Concepts o Looking for meaning, not cause and effect o Trying to understand, not explain or predict o Looking for participant-defined meanings, not researcher imposed ones Example: Quantitative and Qualitative Research on guilt o Tangney developed a scale, the TOSCA (2000), to measure how prone people are to feeling guilty o She developed this scale on the assumption that when you feel guilty you Confess Apologize Make amends Reparation o Her scale includes this reparative element o If you aren't likely to do these things then you're not prone to guilt What qualitative research offers o In this case… A more complex (less simplistic) account A more realistic (less idealistic/moralized) account of what guilt is like 'troubles' or problematizes the mainstream understanding (which may be based on theories or assumptions that haven't been empirically validated) Acknowledges the darker, more maladaptive, idiosyncratic aspects of the guilt experience Qualitative Research o Usually the detailed study of Texts Speech Conversation But also sometimes behavior, images, etc o Historically, rather at the periphery of psychological research But this is changing, particularly with new areas of psychology being explored Especially in applied psychology fields And qual. Is the primary research approach in sociology Aims of qualitative research o In obtain rich or 'thick' (Geertz, 1973) descriptions of the psychological phenomenon that is being investigated Leading to a greater depth of understanding than can be gained from a quantitative approach o To understand how people give meaning and structure to their day-to- day lives How individuals make sense of themselves and others The creation and maintenance of social reality Concerns in qualitative research o Subjectivity at its heart o Exploratory research strategies o Idiographic focus o Researcher and researched relationship acknowledged Co-construction of knowledge o In-depth, detailed descriptions generated (not reductive) o Meaning and understanding (not explanation) o Holistic approach o Typically inductive analyses, not hypothesis testing o Naturalistic settings (not mechanistic) Introduction to ontology o Ontology-the nature of the world; what is there to know? o A continuum from realism to relativism o Realism-belief that we have unmediated access to the world (what we perceive is what is really there). In the extreme this stance is called naïve realism o Relativism-belief that the only reality we can know is socially constructed solely from linguistic and discursive resources. In the extreme this is radical relativism Introduction to epistemology o Epistemology-the nature of knowledge; understanding how knowledge is created, and what it constitutes o From essentialist/positivist to constructivist o Essentialism- position that takes data/knowledge as a direct and factual representation of reality; each 'thing' has essential, fixed characteristics that need to be discovered by researchers Positivism= there is a straightforward relationship between the world and our understanding of it (also post-positivism) o Constructivism-position that takes data/knowledge to be an interpretation; there is no on 'truth' or reality; instead, knowledge is constructed by researchers Methodology, ontology and epistemology o Experiential approaches typically take a position aligned to critical realism (in the middle between realism and relativism) They believe there is an objective reality 'out there' but that our access to it is mediated by society, culture, history and language. Some experiential researcher may take a more essentialist approach, but most use a broadly constructivist epistemology o Discursive approaches take a more relativist stance-they believe that language is of primary importance in how reality is constructed (exists, is known, and is understood) See, social constructionism Methodological Concerns o Quantitative approaches draw on the methodology of positivism (idea that reality can be objectively measured) and hypothetico-deductivism (deducing knowledge by testing hypotheses) o Qualitative approaches feel this is an inappropriate way to study human situations and experiences o Instead, qualitative methods take a naturalistic or social constructionist approach to understanding human life Advantages of qualitative research o Verisimilitude – studying ‘real’ things, rather than artificial products of the laboratory setting o Researcher seen as having a dialogue with participants o Captures the point of view of the individual o Richness of description o Participants able to express inconsistencies in their feelings, thoughts, and actions o And to express what meanings they give to these feelings, thoughts, and actions o Readers are able to understand the experiences of the participants o Gives an appreciation of the characteristics and constraints of the everyday social world o Requires fewer participants than quantitative research Disadvantages of Qualitative Research o Can be viewed as 'unscientific' and, as a result less valid Because degree of interpretation is acknowledged o Findings can't be generalized Through this isn't an aim of qual. Research o Little researcher control o Time-consuming to run studies E.g. transcribing and analyzing interviews o Potential for participant (and researcher) distress may be higher o Can be difficult to publish findings (though this is changing) because of small sample sizes The Qualitative Research Process o Find a topic of interest o Carry out a literature review (sometimes later) o Develop a research question o Identify the appropriate methodology o Develop the research design o Apply for and receive ethical approval o Identify and recruit the sample o Carry out data collection o Undertake the analysis o Undertake the writing-up o Aim to disseminate your findings o The same basic process as a quantitative study o No hypothesis as qualitative is inductive and exploratory o Inductive designs (most qual methods) are led by the data, not by pre- existing theories or assumptions (bottom-up) o The connections between the stages are more prevalent o The stages are more circular and iterative (repetitive) than linear (especially in the analysis) o It's recommended to also keep a research journal throughout your research process to aid reflexivity Research Questions o As the quant studies, this is the question we are asking about the world, and about which we are hoping for an answer through our research o Qualitative RQs are often what? Or how? Questions o The RQs must be exploratory o It must not look for a difference, and doesn't usually compare groups o Meaning and understanding are important Research questions: Three types o What is it like? Experiential Rich, "thick descriptions" (Geertz, 1973) E.g. how do child witnesses experience the court process? o What does it mean? Interpretative What role does the subject play in participants' lives? How about in wider social processes? E.g. how is the role of child witness understood in the court process? o How is it talked about/constructed? Discursive Identifying common ways of talking about a subject, how these are used in conversation, and in what ways they help to form our ideas about them E.g. how are child witnesses constructed during the court process? Sampling o Qualitative studies typically have small samples (3-20 cases), but they can be N-1 (Case studies) o Some methods may sometimes use larger samples (<50-100) but this raises some issues o Sampling is usually purposive (not random selection) o It may aim for homogeneity (similarity) or maximal variation (heterogeneity/difference) o Your RQ helps you define your sample o The more specific the population in your RQ, the more homogenous your sample must be o A homogenous group could be created by Sampling typical cases Sampling extreme or deviant cases Sampling those for whom the RQ has special meaning, e.g. experts, those who have had that experience o A maximal variation group would aim to find cases that there are as different as possible, to show the range of diversity with regard to the RQ This could be done by stratified sampling, cluster sampling etc Sampling: Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria o Inclusion criteria-who can take part in your study? o Exclusion criteria-who can't take part? o Rationale-inclusion/exclusion criteria must be justified Ethical justifications e.g. to protect vulnerable people Methodological justifications-relevance for the study Theoretical justifications-importance, relevance for theory Sampling: Recruitment o How will you find your sample? Advertising When? Where? How? Consider what language you will use in the advert (e.g. avoid jargon) Snowballing Finding one participant and then asking them if they know anyone else relevant Friends/family/personal networks Can be problematic-think through all consequences However, may know other who don't know you Data Collection Methods o Different questions and samples require different methods o Meany choices now, some very innovative, but still dominated by Face to face, in depth interviews Semi-structured Unstructured Narrative Focus groups Qualitative questionnaires (open-ended qs) o Other methods Interview via telephone, skype Correspondences with researcher via letter, email, IM, etc Recordings of naturally occurring conversations Media; TV, radio, newspapers, adverts, etc Written descriptions Participant observation and non-participant observation Diaries; written, audio, video Internet material; blogs, comments, facebook pages etc. Autobiographies, biographies, narratives, correspondences between two parties Documentary and historical records Images, film, objects, photographs, movements/behaviors Interviewing Principles o Flexible o Open o Participant-led; participant as expert o Importance of non-verbal information o A human encounter-deep engagement with another o Good interview => potential for good data => potential for good analysis => happy researcher! Interview technique o Semi-structured interviews are the most prevalent data-collection method AKA 'in-depth' interviews(also unstructured and narrative in- depth interviews) Interview schedule is produced This guides the interview; the researcher can deviate from it, ask questions in different ways, asks questions not on the schedule The interview is more like a conversation, but remains focused on the topic and the participant's experience and is asymmetric Semi-Structured Interviews o Uses interview schedule but establish rapport with respondent ordering/ phrasing of questions not so important follow up/ probe interesting areas that arise respondent shares more closely in how interview develops o Pros more naturalistic flexibility e.g. can go into novel areas richer data participant led; potentially challenges power-relations o Cons loss of control time consuming harder to analyze, as no pre-defined codes or categories can be personally demanding (importance of reflexivity in qualitative research) Contrast with Structured Interviews o More like experimental design: researcher aims to maximize control o Interview questions Clearly worded specific questions on an interview schedule Read question exactly as written in exact order Pre-coded response categories Each interview to be identical o Interview responses Short, specific Either possible answers provided by interviewer or open response then categorized by interviewer Resembles questionnaire o Pros Control Reliability Speed o Cons Can be stilted Prevents empathy Limits what respondent can say The demands of in-depth interviewing o Much responsibility places on the interviewer Ensure all issues covered Must absorb all info provided by the interviewee to question and probe successfully Cope with emotions of the interviewee Cope with own emotional responses Maintain awareness of time, ethical issues, methodological issues and practicalities (e.g. the recorder) o Interviewee must cope with questions requiring detail not normally covered in day-to-day conversation May find it hard to say no to questions they are uncomfortable answering May find it hard to articulate complex experiences The interview schedule o Informs and guides only o Appropriate structure o Open-ended and expansive questions Descriptive: can you tell me….? Narrative: What are the stages of…? Structural: What are the stages of…? Contrasting: What are the differences between..? Evaluative: How do you feel about…? Circular: What do you think x thinks…? Prompts: Can you tell me some more about…? Probes: What do you mean be…? o Focus on concrete experiences-the particular, grounded, experience not concepts/abstract thoughts Questions to avoid o Over empathic: I imagine that….is that right…? o Manipulative: you've described it as…is it even worse than that…? o Leading: So it's not really that good then, is it…? o Closed: How many years has this been going on? Questions demanding a single word or yes/no answer Interview Structure o Opening Thanks and welcome Info and questions Disclosure? Consent o Body Funneling, temporal/chronological, awareness of sensitive areas= be aware of not covering too many areas o Closing Thanks Debrief (sample info sheet) Thank again o Follow up? o Role of the researcher Interviewing Technique o Open questions o Follow up Prompts (help the participant answer the question) Probes (help you find out more info) o Know schedule and structure off by heart o Listen carefully to what has been said o Empathy, warmth o Encourage participants to tell their story and show them you care about what they're saying by engaging them with further questions Resources o Journals o Qualitative Methods in Psychology (QMiP) section of the BPS