- Slides: 32
The Basics of Research Asking Research Questions
Introduction We all have our own ideas of what determines people’s thoughts and actions. Some of these ideas are seen as common sense. Birds of a feather flock together Opposites attracts Testing the truth (validity) of such “theories” is an important part of the work of research psychologists. Research is an essential component of the discipline of psychology.
Variables The concept of variable is basic to psychological research. A variable is anything that varies and can be measured. Of course, the variable attraction may have a whole range of different values (e. g. , “strongly attracted” through “strongly not attracted”). Varies: has more than one value Example: opposites attract (attract; not attract) The number of different values depends on just how a researcher decides to measure that variable.
The Hypothesis Very simple research may be concerned with counting how common a particular form of behavior is among people. Example A researcher may survey romantic couples and find out that 75% of people had experienced love at first sight. We could assume that the researcher has described a typical human experience. Relatively little psychological research aims to only describe or count the frequency of occurrences. More often psychologists want to find the reasons phenomena or events occur.
The Hypothesis Most research tests a specific idea or hypothesis. The hypothesis is sometimes called the alternative hypothesis. Example The physical attractiveness of the other person affects the likelihood of falling in love with them at first sight. A research hypothesis has 2 essential features: 1. contains a minimum of 2 variables 2. suggests that there is a relationship between these variables
The Hypothesis Another feature is not essential, but. Non-directional nevertheless, desirable. Hypothesis Researcher expects a relationship, but cannot specify its nature with The hypothesis may describe what researcher expects the anythe certainty. relationship between the variables to be. Example: Maybe people will be more likely to fall in love with Directional Hypothesis someone generally thought to be Researcher specifies the expected thephysically attractive. relationship between the variables to Or maybe physically attractive be. people are considered extremely Example: We expect that people willintimidating & thus, people do not fall in love with extremely be more likely to fall in love with attractive people immediately. someone generally thought to be physically attractive.
The Hypothesis For every hypothesis (alternate) in research, there is a null hypothesis The null hypothesis is virtually the same as the hypothesis, but states that there is no relationship between the two variables. Example: Alternate Hypotheses Directional: parents acceptance increases child self-esteem Non-directional: child self-esteem is related to parental acceptance Example: Null Hypotheses There is no relationship between self-esteem and parental acceptance
Research Ideas Students are often encouraged to think of their own ideas to test. Where do these ideas come from? Conflicting findings from Aspects of psychological theory which previous research on superficially the same have not previously been tested or topic tested satisfactorily Concerns about the ways that previous research has been Suggestions for further research carried out may suggest mentioned by researchers at the weakness in the methods and end of their reports procedures or alternative explanations New social and technological developments may suggest research
Major Steps in Testing a Research Hypothesis Begin Here: Select a topic of interest and importance Read and review the relevant research literature on the topic Pose the research question as a hypothesis d If possible make sure that your hypothesis postulates the direction of the relationship d Decide an important question to research Do you have the time and other resources? c What do you think is the most appropriate method for testing your hypothesis— obervation, survey, experiment? d Will answer further understanding of the topic? How will you measure each of your variables?
Major Steps in Testing a Research Hypothesis How will you measure each of your variables? Consider ethical study considerations and develop procedures Run a pilot study to ensure your procedures work Generate your tables and diagrams to summarize your data Make adjustment and run main study Carry out statistical tests of significance to test your hypothesis Make adjustment and run main study
The Basics of Research Common Research Methods
Introduction Of course, there are many different ways of testing the research hypotheses. An oversimplification… 1. observation 2. self-report 3. experiments
Observation In many circumstances we want to observe participants’ activities. For example, if we wanted to investigate whether parents treat daughters differently than sons it might be appropriate to observe parents with their children rather than ask parents’ about how they treat their children. Naturalistic • recording spontaneously occurring behavior in a participants’ natural environment Controlled • involves the recording of spontaneous occurring behavior, but under conditions that are contrived by the researcher Participant • the researcher becomes involved in the everyday life of the participants while observing
Observation There are number of considerations to think about when making observations. Actor: Who are you observing? Action: What are you observing? • individual: Little Johnny • specific behavior: physical aggression • group: children on a playground • general behavior: how a child interacts in a particular situation Relationship: Are you observing interactions? • between people: parents with children • between settings and people: child at home versus child at school Time: How long will you observe? • number of times • length of sentence Physical Setting: What environment will you observe? • playground/classroom/therapy room/home/etc.
Observation Advantages • does not rely on participant’s ability to report own behavior accurately Disadvantages • can be time consuming to collect & classifying observation data • can mainly be used for readily observable data • generally does not allow cause and effect to be determined
Self-Report Self-report research tends to be non-experimental research. It is the simplest form of research. It might merely involve asking people about their behavior, thoughts, or emotions. Interviews Questionnaire • reading /writing not needed by participant • anonymous and potentially less embarrassing • possible for interviewer to probe participant’s answer for more detail, clarification • less subject to the influence of the person carrying out the research • participant is not so constrained to answer from a range of alternatives supplied by the researcher • participant can ask for more information or clarification • multiple-choice questionnaires are relatively easy to process and analyze
Self-Report Suppose we are interested in establishing whether sexual passion influences how satisfied we are with our partner. We could ask people about their sexual passion and their satisfaction and find… Length of couple’s relationship Sexual passion as the cause of The role of a third variable (length of relationship satisfaction couple’s relationship) is the primary Relationship satisfaction as the cause of factor in the relationship between sexual and passion Sexual passion relationship sexual passion and relationship satisfaction both cause and effect each satisfaction other A relationship which is really the consequence of other variables acting on both variables at the same time is known as spurious relationship The factor(s) that are responsible for the spurious relationship are often referred to as confounding variables
Self-Report Some aspects of human thought and behavior may not be suitable for studying by survey techniques or experiments. We would avoid using report under these circumstances… • when people lack insight on their own thoughts & actions • when people might be motivated to lie about their beliefs and actions • when the behaviors and thoughts are so complex that they are difficult to summarize • when behaviors are so simple that they can be readily described • when we want to relate what they say about their thoughts and behaviors with what they can be observed as doing • when we know little about a particular topic
Self-Report Advantages Disadvantages • can collect information on variables which are not readily observable • assume that people can do report their thoughts and actions accurately • are superficially relatively easy to carry out • do not allow cause and effect to be determined • can gather information on many variables at the same time
Experiments It is difficult to imagine psychology without experiments. The experimental method is so common in psychological research that it is almost a defining characteristic. • experiments are almost always controlled experiments • this means that at a minimum they involve an experimental group and a control group which are treated differently • differences in the way in which the two or more groups are treated may influence differential measurements of a particular variable • no other research method in psychology is able to explore causal relationships • a cause-and-effect relationship is another way of saying causal relationship
Experiments Essential Characteristics of Experiments Manipulation: a variable is manipulated to assess whether it affects a second variable • rather than examining the effects of naturally occurring variations, experimenters deliberately set up conditions which they vary in certain ways • independent variables (IV): the variable that is manipulate by the researcher to see if it has an effect on the dependent variable • dependent variable (DV): the variable that is measured or observed after the application of the independent variable
Experiments Essential Characteristics of Experiments Precise Procedural Controls: great care is taken to ensure that apart from the manipulation, everything is the same for research participants in all other possible respects • there is little point in deliberately manipulating a key variable while at the same time allowing other sources of variation to creep into an experiment • an ideal in experimental work is that the only difference between the conditions is the deliberately imposed variation reflecting the independent variable • obviously this is difficult to achieve, but researchers need to work toward this ideal
Experiments Essential Characteristics of Experiments Random Assignment: participants in the research are allocated to the different variants of the procedure (i. e. , the manipulation) by a random method so that now systematic biases occur in the characteristics of people in the different conditions. • this final crucial feature of a controlled experiment is the use of random procedures to allocate participants to the different conditions • if people are assigned to the experimental and control conditions at random, in the long run the people in the experimental and control conditions will be the same in the important respects
Experiments Advantages Disadvantages • enable cause and effect to be determined • can be time consuming to carry out • findings can be relatively easy to interpret • trying to control IV and procedures can make for very artificial situations • relatively few variables can be investigated at any one time
The Basics of Research Ethics in the conduct of Research
Introduction Frequently we see on television examples of conduct that would be unethical for psychologists carrying out research. These activities include: • hidden cameras taking pictures without the consent of those involved • reporters misinforming individuals about the purpose of interviews • talk shows in which the private lives of people not present in the studio are discussed • people being made to look foolish in candid camera situations
What are Research Ethics? Research ethics are the broad moral principles and rules of conduct that guide psychologists when doing their research • one of the most famous studies in psychology that has received the greatest amount of ethical debate is Milgram’s research in 1963 and 1974 (classic research on obedience) The main aspects of ethical research are as follows: 1. the consent of participants in research 2. protecting participants from psychological and physical harm 3. consultation with colleagues and more experienced researchers
Consent • people must participate in research freely and should not feel under pressure to take part—consent • the basis of consenting to take part in research is a reasonable understanding of to what one is committing oneself; simply agreeing to take part in a study with no idea of what it entails is not informed consent—informed consent • participants in research must be aware that they can withdraw from the research at any stage • people who are unaware that they are taking part in a research study (e. g. , because they are being secretly observed) cannot give informed consent by definition • people who have been actively deceived about what is involved in research cannot give informed consent
Consent • if participants in research who decide to withdraw from the research at any stage should be able to withdraw any data they have supplied up to that point; thus, their questionnaires, interview tapes, videos, and even computer-recorded data should be destroyed, wiped-clean, deleted or given to the participant to take way if they so choose • some individuals cannot give consent (e. g. , minors); in these circumstances, the permission of responsible adults should be sought • researchers should protect the dignity of the participants
Protection of Participants • the research participant should not be subjected to risk of physical or psychological harm by the researcher • all equipment, furnishing and other apparatus used by the researcher should be physically sound and safe; electrical and mechanical apparatus should be regularly checked for safety • research participants should not be subjected to procedures involving a tangible physical risk; exercise, sudden surprise, stress, strobe lights, deprivation of food and water, and similar factors may have serious effects in some circumstances • psychological harm may be caused by some procedures; for example, the effects of research procedures that leave the participant feeling stupid or inadequate may not be reversible by the debriefing procedures
Debriefing • debriefing is an essential component of the research process • it allows researchers to give complete information about the nature and purpose of your research • in addition, debriefing allows you to find out more about how the research participants experienced the research • finally, it is an opportunity for the researcher to thank the research participant and let the participant ask questions about the research
Module Questions 1. How would you best examine whether men are more likely than women to commit crimes? When you answer this question, use different methods to describe ways to study this question (i. e. , naturalistic observation, archival research, correlational research and experimental/quasi experimental research). 2. Find one empirical articles that investigate gender differences and some sort of social behavior (i. e. , I expect that none of the articles will overlap. Print the articles (electronic versions) or photocopy (hardcopy journals versions). Write a paragraph summarizing the articles and discussing the article. Include a sentence or two for each question. a. Who wrote the article and in which journal was it published? b. What is the research question or hypothesis or hypotheses? directional? c. Does the research address an important issue? Explain your answer. d. Who were the participants and how were they recruited? Are the participants appropriate given the research topic? e. What is the design for this study? Briefly summarize the methods. f. How were measures used? How were they operationalized? Does the author(s) measure what the author(s) really want to measure? g. What are the main findings of the study? h. Do these results address the research question? i. What conclusions did the author draw from the results? Are the conclusions justified based on the results? Was the hypothesis directional or non-