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Research Methods

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There are four major classifications of research designs. These include Observational research, Surveys, Experimentation and Case Studies. Each of these will be discussed further below. Observational research involves directly observing subjects' reactions, either in a laboratory or in a natural setting (called naturalistic observation). Observational research reduces the possibility that subjects will not give totally honest accounts of the experiences, not take the study seriously, fail to remember, or feel embarrassed. Observational research was made use of by Jean Piaget, school of cognitive development, when coming to his theories of child development. He identified, by observing his three children - the four developmental stages and the processes that children progress through. The four stages are: 1. Sensorimotor stage Preoperational stage Concrete operations Formal operations The advantages are that it enables you to get an in-depth study, it enables understanding of person or persons behaviour and you are able to see, hear and be involved Although observational research does also have limitations. Subject bias is common, because volunteer subjects may not be representative of the general public. Individuals who agree to observation and monitoring may function differently than those who do not. They may also function differently in a laboratory setting than they do in other settings. ...read more.


Controlled experiments involve introducing only one variable at a time, which is why animals used for experiments are housed in laboratory settings. In contrast, human environments and genetic backgrounds vary widely, which makes it difficult to control important variables for human subjects. Experimental psychologists have traditionally conducted research, published articles, and taught classes on neuroscience, developmental psychology, sensation, perception, consciousness, learning, memory, thinking, and language. Recently, the experimental approach has also extended to motivation, emotion, and social psychology. The most important advantage of experiments is the ability to discover cause and effect relationships. A claimed disadvantage of experimental psychology however, is that because many experiments occur in the laboratory, the atmosphere is removed from real-life scenarios and can be too artificial and the particular individuals participating in the experiment may be different than the population to which the results are to be applied. A case study is another research method used in psychology. Instead of using samples and following a rigid protocol to examine limited number of variables, case study methods involve an in-depth, examination of a single instance or event called "a case". They provide a systematic way of looking at events, collecting data, analysing information and reporting the results. ...read more.


This type of research can be accomplished by a variety of techniques which include the collection of empirical data. Often, surveys can be considered a type of observational research as nothing is manipulated by the experimenter or individual conducting the research. The major aim of correlational research is to explore the correlation between or among the variables. These correlations help us better understand the conditions and events in a meaningful way, and in making predictions about the future conditions and events. These research studies enable us to explain, predict and, control certain conditions and events. For example, B. F. Skinner, a behavioural psychologist, most events could be expressed as X, Y. X is the function of Y, and this is possible only because both are correlated. In his experiments, X refers to the behaviour of the pigeon and Y refers to the reinforcement given to the pigeon after it performs some particular behaviour. The pigeon learns to peck at the tray because it leads to a reward being food. On the basis of his experiments, he concluded that one thing caused another that is, the proper administration of reinforcement led or caused the bird to behave in a certain manner. Correlational research is often conducted as exploratory or beginning research. Once variables have been identified and defined, experiments can then be carried out. ...read more.

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