Topics: Scientific method, Qualitative research, Psychology Pages: 36 (12130 words) Published: August 20, 2010


Methods of Enquiry Psy in Psychology

After reading this chapter, you would be able to

• • • • •

explain the goals and nature of psychological enquiry, understand different types of data used by psychologists, describe some important methods of psychological enquiry, understand the methods of analysing data, and learn about the limitations of psychological enquiry and ethical considerations.

Introduction Goals of Psychological Enquiry Steps in Conducting Scientific Research Alternative Paradigms of Research Nature of Psychological Data Some Important Methods in Psychology Observational Method Example of an Experiment (Box 2.1) Experimental Method Correlational Research Survey Research Example of Survey Method (Box 2.2) Psychological Testing Case Study Analysis of Data Quantitative Method Qualitative Method Limitations of Psychological Enquiry Ethical Issues

An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea. – Gautam Buddha 22 Psychology

Key Terms Summary Review Questions Project Ideas

You have read in the first chapter that psychology is the study of experiences, behaviours, and mental processes. You may now be curious to know how psychologists study these phenomena. In other words, what methods are used to study behaviour and mental processes? Like all scientists, psychologists seek to describe, predict, explain and control what they study. For this, psychologists rely on formal, systematic observations to address their questions. It is the methodology that makes psychology a scientific endeavour. Psychologists use a variety of research methods because questions about human behaviour are numerous and all of them cannot be studied by a single method. Methods such as observation, experimental, correlational research, survey, psychological testing and case study are more frequently used to study the problems of psychology. This chapter will familiarise you with the goals of psychological enquiry, the nature of information or data that we collect in psychological studies, the diverse range of methodological devices available for the study of psychology, and some important issues related to psychological studies.




Like any scientific research, psychological enquiry has the following goals: description, prediction, explanation, and control of behaviour, and application of knowledge so generated, in an objective manner. Let us try to understand the meaning of these terms. Description : In a psychological study, we attempt to describe a behaviour or a phenomenon as accurately as possible. This helps in distinguishing a particular behaviour from other behaviours. For example, the researcher may be interested in observing study habits among students. Study habits may consist of diverse range of behaviours, such as attending all your classes regularly, submitting assignments on time, planning your study schedule, studying according to the set schedule, revising your work on a daily basis etc. Within a particular category there may be further minute descriptions. The researcher needs to describe her/his meaning of study habits. The description requires recording of a particular behaviour which helps in its proper understanding.

Prediction : The second goal of scientific enquiry is prediction of behaviour. If you are able to understand and describe the behaviour accurately, you come to know the relationship of a particular behaviour with other types of behaviours, events, or phenomena. You can then forecast that under certain conditions this particular behaviour may occur within a certain margin of error. For example, on the basis of study, a researcher is able to establish a positive relationship between the amount of study time and achievement in different subjects. Later, if you come to know that a particular child devotes more time for study, you can predict that the child...
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