Methods of Research in Psychology Short Notes

In this article, we will be sharing methods of research in psychology in the form of short notes. Psychology is defined as the scientific study of human behavior. Experiments are conducted to understand the human behavior. Psychologists try to study a wide range of topics related to language, development, emotions and motivation to understand human behavior. There are tools, models and methods that are used to conduct psychological research.

Methods of Research in Psychology

Purpose of Research

The main aim of research in psychology is

  • Basic Research:

Research constructs and tests hypothetical propositions that ideally generalize over time. A research is descriptive in nature that explores what, why and how questions.

  • Applied Research:

Research makes us understand the human behavior. This further helps us in controlling the environment effectively. Research also helps us to use those findings in problem solving.

  • Evaluation Research:

Research focuses on studying the processes and outcomes aimed at attempted solutions. It improves human intervention within specific conditions.

  • Action Research:

Research aims to solve problems within an organization or community. The people are directly involved in gathering information and data.

Research Terminology

Researchers use specific terms to describe their research and work. There are terms or words that are used only in research. The most common terms used by researchers or scientists are:

  • Variables: it can be defined as an object, event or a characteristic that can be measured or observed. These are the conditions that are controlled, manipulated or observed during an experiment by the researcher. Some examples of variables can be intelligence, anxiety, achievement, education etc.

The variable that is controlled or manipulated in an experiment to see its effect on the other variable (Dependent Variable) is called independent variable. The other variable that is being measured or tested is the dependent variable.

Methods of research in psychology

  • Hypothesis: an hypothesis is a testable statement. This statement describes what is expected in the experiment or predicts the possible relationship between two variables.
  • Subject or Participant: it is an individual person or animal that takes part in the experiment and is observed by the researcher.  
  • Sample: it is the collection of samples or participants that is used in the study. The sample size varies from experiment to experiment.
  • Population: a sample is drawn from a group of people or animals that is called population. It is difficult to study the entire population so an appropriate sample is chosen and studied. The results are then generalized to the population.

Approaches in Research

Qualitative Approach: this research is defined as a research method of collecting numerical data. The findings are arrived from statistical procedures.

Quantitative Approach: this research is based on descriptive interviews and observations.

Descriptive Research:Research Design

This type of research is the study of one variable. The researcher focuses on describing one kind behavior or attributes. The general behavior or attributes are not dependent on each other. This type of research is used for exploration and can also be known as exploratory design. It doesn’t measure relationship between variables.

  • Experimental Research:

This type of research measures cause and effect relation between variables. It measures how one variable relates to another. The main aim is to see how manipulation of one variable effects the other variable. In experimental research all the variables are kept constant except the independent variable.

  • Correlational Research:

This type of research aims to study the relationship between two variables. A correlation study strives to only describe or predict the behavior not to explain. The two variables can be related to one another without one causing any effect to the other.

Data Collection Method

  • Interviews

This method of data collection is a conversation between an interviewer and an interviewee. The questions asked during the interview are set beforehand. The information is transferred from the interviewer to the interviewee. An interview can be structured or unstructured. Structured interview is the interview where the interviewer is allowed to ask only the questions that are pre decided. In an unstructured interview, each question lead to another and the leading question depends on the respond of the interviewee.   

  • Case study

This method of research involves an in depth and up close study of the subject or the participant chosen. A case is selected and thoroughly studied. The data is collected from the facts and information present in the story or case.

  • Survey

This method is used when a large population is needed to be covered in a short time. Questionnaires are prepared and distributed among the population. A survey can be conducted through a phone call, visit from home to home, online etc.

  • Observational study

In this type of data collection method the inferences are drawn from a sample to a population. The sample is closely observed by the researcher and the data collected is based on the information collected through observation. This method is used in experimental design where the dependent group is closely observed.  

  • Content analysis

It is a research method used to study documents or artifacts. The texts of various formats, pictures, audio or video are studied and information is collected. One of the major advantages of this method is that analysis of social phenomena can be done in a non-invasive way.

The Research Process

Step 1: Find a research idea

The very first step is to generally find a topic that one would like to explore.

Step 2: Convert the Idea into a Hypothesis

Use that idea to form a testable statement called a hypothesis.

Step 3: Define and Measure Variables

Find a way to define your variables and procedures to measure those variables.

Step 4: Identify Participants or Subjects

Decide on how many participants or how big sample size is needed for the experiment.

Step 5: Select a Research Design

Decide between experimental, correlational or descriptive design.

Step 6: Conduct the study

Collect the data

Step 7: Evaluate the data

Use appropriated statistical inferences to analyze the data.

Step 8: Report the Results

Use established guidelines for format and style to prepare an accurate report.

Ethical Considerations

  • The experiment should not have any emotional or mental harm on the subject.
  • The information collected should be kept highly confidential.
  • The data collected should only be shared with the participants’ consent.
  • The findings of the research should not hurt any social phenomenon.
  • An informed consent should be signed before the experiment begins as the participant holds the right to know what the experiment is about and what it will lead to.
  • The participant is allowed to withdraw from the study whenever he/she wishes to.
  • In the experiments with animals, the rights of the animals should be kept in mind.