Scientific Method and Naturalistic Observation

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Methods of Research

Research, systematic inquiry aimed at the discovery of new knowledge, is a central ingredient of the scientific method in psychology. It provides the key to understanding the degree to which hypotheses (and the theories behind them) are accurate. Just as we can apply different theories and hypotheses to explain the same phenomena, we can use a number of alternative methods to conduct research.

In this exercise, you will learn more about several methods of research that psychologists use to gain new knowledge about human behavior and ethical concerns psychologists face when conducting research.

1. You are conducting research on sex differences in e-mails. Your hypothesis is that men use more declarative statements and women use more questions.

Answer each of the following questions.

* What might be the advantages of using the archival method?

* What might be the disadvantages of using the archival method?

2. Now imagine that you are conducting research on the length of time it takes customers to select items in a grocery store. Assume that your hypothesis is that people will spend more time deciding on more expensive items than on cheaper items.

* What might be the advantages of using naturalistic observation?

* What might be the disadvantages of using naturalistic observation?

3. You have decided to conduct a survey on whether a given political candidate will be popular with Latino voters.

* What is an advantage of the survey method?

* What is a disadvantage of the survey method?

4. You have decided to use the case study method to investigate a mother’s experience in raising a child with autism.

* What is an advantage of the case study method?

* What is a disadvantage of the case study method?

5. When conducting research what are some of the ethical concerns that must be addressed?
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