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# Research Methods

### All key terms from Research Methods

Term | Definition |
---|---|

Levels of the independent variable | The different conditions in the experiment |

Objectivity | Remaining impartial and not biased |

Replicability | When an experiment or investigation can be repeated multiple times (and by others) with the same findings |

Empiricism | Gathering actual evidence for the theory |

Falsifiability | Being able to give a scenario in which the theory could be proved wrong |

Hypothesis testing | Creating a clear testable statement and then comparing it to experiment |

Theory construction | Creating a general explanation or model for a specific phenomenon which can be tested |

Paradigm | A set of assumptions shared by the majority of people in a scientific field |

Paradigm shift | A significant change to the agreed upon set of assumptions, such as the finding that the Earth orbits the sun rather than the other way around |

Quantitative Data | Information in the form of numbers |

Qualitative Data | Information which is not in the form of numbers; e.g. in text |

Quasi experiment | A study involving an independent variable which has already occurred, where the IV is a characteristic |

Laboratory Experiment | A controlled study carried out in an artificial setting |

Field Experiment | A controlled study carried out in a natural setting |

Natural Experiment | A study involving an independent variable which has already occurred, where the IV is an experience |

Correlational Analysis | A test of the relationship between two continuous variables, usually plotted on a scattergram |

Observation | Research which involves directly recording the behaviour of participants (can be natural/controlled, participant/non-participant, and overt/covert) |

Self-Report Techniques | Research methods whereby the participants provide the information about themselves |

Questionnaire | Self-report method where participants are given a written set of questions to answer |

Open question | Where the person responding has freedom over what to say - their choices are not restricted |

Closed question | Forced-choice questions with limited number of options |

Interview | Self-report method where participants are usually asked questions face:face |

Structured interview | Interviews which follow a set list of questions, with no follow-up questions |

Unstructured interview | Interviews with a theme and topic, but no set questions that allow for elaboration and discussion |

Case Study | An in-depth analysis of one person or a small group of people |

Aims | What the research intends to discover |

Hypothesis | A testable statement - you must operationalise the variables within it |

Directional Hypothesis | AKA 'one-tailed': A testable statement which predicts that there will be a difference/correlation and can state the direction |

Non Directional Hypothesis | AKA 'two-tailed': A testable statement which predicts that there will be a difference/correlation but does not state the direction |

Null hypothesis | A testable statement which predicts that there will be no difference/correlation |

Independent Groups | Experimental design where participants take part in only one level of the IV |

Repeated Measures | Experimental design where participants take part in all levels of the IV |

Matched Pairs | Experimental design where participants take part in only one level of the IV, but are paired with another participant with similar characteristics before being separated into their conditions |

Behavioural Categories | Coding units used in an observation or content analysis - what the researchers are going to tally |

Operationalisation | Making variables specific and measurable |

Independent Variable (IV) | The difference between conditions (what you change) |

Dependant Variable (DV) | What the researcher measures |

Pilot Study | A small-scale test carried out before the main study to identify and solve any issues or to make specific decisions |

Extraneous Variables (EV) | Something has an impact on the DV, which is not the IV |

Confounding Variables | A third variable which explains a correlation - it changes proportionally with the two other variables |

Control Variable | A factor that researchers ensure is the same in all conditions to make the study replicable and to avoid extraneous variables |

Participant Variables | Differences between the people taking part in the study which act as Extraneous variables |

Situational Variables | Differences between the environments of each condition in the study which act as Extraneous variables |

Social Desirability Bias | Where participants change their behaviour or answer to make themselves look better |

Reliability | How consistent the study is |

Inter-rater reliability | The extent to which different assessors would score the participants in the same way |

Test-retest reliability | The extent to which the study could be repeated in the same way with the same results |

Internal Validity | The extent to which the study measures what it claims to measure |

External Validity | The extent to which the findings can be generalised beyond the study |

Population Validity | The extent to which the sample can be generalised to the target population |

Ecological Validity | The extent to which the study can be generalised to realistic settings |

Temporal/Historical Validity | The extent to which the study can be generalised to modern times |

Concurrent validity | Whether or not the measure of the IV agrees with a more established measure - e.g. does a person's score correlate with their score on a widely-accepted valid test? |

Face validity | Whether the measure of the IV seems accurate - usually volunteers are asked to rate its internal validity |

BPS Code of Ethics | The official guide to ethical issues in Psychology |

Deception | Ethical issue - Lying to participants |

Informed Consent | Ethical issue - getting permission from your participants to take part |

Protection of Participants | Ethical issue - must ensure participants suffer no damage from the study |

Right to Withdraw | Ethical issue - participants are allowed to leave at any point |

Debrief | Ethical issue - participants must be told the aim and details of the study at the end |

Sampling Techniques | Ways in which researchers gather participants |

Target Population | The group of people who need to be represented by a good sample |

Random Sample | Sampling method - each person has an equal chance of taking part |

Opportunity Sample | Sampling method - the people who are in the right place at the right time |

Stratified Sample | Sampling method - the demographics of the population are reflected in the sample |

Systematic Sample | Sampling method - list the group and pick every nth person |

Volunteer Sample | Sampling method - place an advertisement and use the people who select themselves |

Demand Characteristics | Changes in the participant behaviour due to taking part in the study |

Investigator Effects | When the researcher has an impact on the outcome |

Counterbalancing | A method for reducing order effects by ensuring different groups participate in conditions in different orders |

Order effects | Taking part in one condition affects performance in another condition |

Practice effects | When you get better in the second condition due to taking part in the first |

Fatigue effects | When you get worse in the second condition due to taking part in the first |

Random Allocation | Reducing bias by placing participants in conditions indiscriminately - e.g. by picking names out of a hat |

Standardisation | Ensuring that the controlled variables are the same in each condition of an experiment - e.g. giving recorded or typed instructions to participants |

Scattergram | A method of representing correlational data in a visual form |

Histogram | A method of representing a test of difference where the IV is on a continuous scale (e.g. height) |

Bar chart | A method of representing a test of difference where the IV is NOT on a continuous scale (e.g. With music/Without music) |

Measures of Central Tendency | Averages |

Mean | Adding up all scores and dividing by how many scores there are |

Median | The middle value |

Mode | The most common value |

Measures of Dispersion | Ways of seeing how spread out the data is |

Range | The highest value - the lowest value |

Standard Deviation | A measure of how spread out the data are, by finding the average difference from the mean |

Positive Correlation | As one variable increases, so does the other |

Negative Correlation | As one variable increases, the other decreases |

Correlation Coefficients | A measure of the relationship between variables, ranging from -1 to 1. It is the calculated value of a Spearman's rho or Pearson's r test |

Content Analysis | A method of turning qualitative data into quantitative data by establishing coding units and tallying their occurrence |

Thematic analysis | When a researcher reviews qualitative data and records recurring patterns or motifs - they do not tally their occurrences however |

Peer review | A scientific process whereby other scientists check work before it is published |

Normal distribution | When the mean, median and mode are the same |

Positively skewed distribution | When the mean is higher than the median and the mode |

Negatively skewed distribution | When the mean is lower than the median and the mode |

Abstract | Appears at the beginning of a scientific journal. Summarises the entire study, including aim, method, results and conclusions |

Introduction | Scientific report section which explains key terms and previous research to justify the current study |

Method | Scientific report section which outlines the participants, materials and procedure |

Results | Scientific report section which outlines the raw data from the study, with some descriptive and inferential statistical analysis |

Discussion | Scientific report section which includes the conclusions and some evaluation of the research, with recommendations for future research |

References | List of sources used in a scientific report |

Descriptive statistics | Ways of analysing data that give more information about patterns in the data, e.g. averages, percentages, ratios etc. |

Level of measurement | Whether the DV is nominal, ordinal or interval |

Nominal data | Category data without a numeric value (e.g. hair colour) |

Ordinal data | Level of measurement where there is a scale containing unequal gaps (data may be ranked, subjective or otherwise not equal in gap size) |

Interval data | Level of measurement where there is a scale containing equal gaps (e.g. height in cm) |

Inferential statistics | A way of analysing data to determine the likelihood that any difference/correlation is statistically significant |

Statistical significance | Suggests that results are not due to chance - or it is extremely unlikely they are |

p Value | The probability that results were due to a chance result. In psychology we accept 5% (or 0.05) |

Type I error | A false positive - When the alternate hypothesis is accepted incorrectly and the null hypothesis rejected incorrectly |

Type II error | A false negative - When the alternate hypothesis is rejected incorrectly and the null hypothesis is accepted incorrectly |

Calculated value | The result of an inferential statistical test |

Critical value | The number in a data table that you must compare with your calculated value |

Related design | An experimental design where the participants in one condition are similar to those in another - either repeated measures or matched pairs |

Unrelated design | Independent groups design - the participants in one condition are not similar or related to those in the other condition |

Test of difference | A comparison between conditions |

Test of association | An investigation into a correlation or relationship between co-variables |