Fundamentals of Research Methodology
Melody Ann Lovelace
University of Phoenix
Rachel Rosenblatt, PsyD
April 13, 2009
Fundamentals of Research Methodology
Being in what is known as an information age, research has taken new strides and development. Several electronic databases are full of an array of journals and many search engines exist to allow individuals to active investigate and study the diverse pages of written materials for any specific topic at the click of a button. Despite these expanding capabilities to maneuver around the diverse data, the scientific method is a crucial tool in the study of psychology. This discussion will include an overview of the science of psychology, explain the scientific method, give an explanation to distinguish between qualitative and quantitative data, and explain the process of scientific theory construction and testing (Psych540 Syllabus). Science of Psychology and Scientific Method
The word psychology begins in ancient Greece that derives from two Greek word, psyche and logos. With the latter meaning “the study of” and the first meaning “mind” (Abra, 1998). Psychology can be defined as the scientific study of behavior and mental processes; truly born with the first psychology lab of Wilhelm Wundt (Van Wagner, 2009). A psychologist will adopt similar techniques or approach as other scientists in other science disciplines. For example, the nuclear physicists study the structure of the atoms but cannot directly study the proton directly; the psychologist sees human behavior directly and uses this as clues to the unseen working of the brain (BBC, 2009). Although psychology had emerged as a separate discipline, psychology lies as an intercept for several other sciences like philosophy, sociology, physics, and biology to name a few, (BBC, 2009). The psychologist uses the scientific methods to help process and uncover new developments about mental health, processes and behaviors. According to Shaughnessy, Zechmeister, and Zechmeister (2005), “the scientific method is intended to meet four goals: description, prediction, explanation, and application.” (pg. 41) Keep in mind, the scientific method is considered an empirical approach, systematic, unbiased, objective, clear defined operational definition, accurate, reliable and valid and so on (Shaughnessy, Zechmeister, and Zechmeister, 2005). The human thoughts and behaviors are influenced by internal and external elements like genetics and environment. The psychologist in turn will delve into research by questioning about the influences and determine the correlations if any, between whatever factors are present or exist. By answering questions concerning the different influences will involve research, investigation, observation, and experimentation. A psychologist would first need to form an operational definition based on the assumed theory and construct a hypothesis. For example, impulsivity and alcoholism both need to be defined with a little more emphasis on impulsivity. When the operational definition is established, then the hypothesis is constructed. Using the impulsivity and alcoholism, an initial hypothesis could be something to the effect of: impulsivity of an individual can lead to alcoholism. Now to see if this is true and alcoholism can be predicted, one would need to collect data. Next is to determine a particular population to sample in respect to the hypothesis. In this instance, a test could be conducted to measure impulsivity levels of an individual within a sampled population of alcoholics. The hypothesis is proven true if the alcoholics score high. The process above represents psychology in respect to science and the study of the human thoughts and behaviors in the scientific sense using the scientific method. The step clearly shows the scientific method as asking questions, form a theory and hypothesis, collect data, analyze data, and finally draw conclusion....