Research Method in Psychology

Topics: Scientific method, Research, Psychology Pages: 10 (3669 words) Published: May 17, 2010
RUNNING HEAD: Research Methods in Psychology

Research Methods in Psychology: Their strengths and weaknesses

Research Methods in Psychology: Their strengths and weaknesses There are two main and important research methods in psychology. They are the experimental designs which are controlled by intervention and corelational designs which observe associations. In the experimental design the researcher is in full control over all research variables whereas the corelational designs observe and records relationship between the two variables. Experimental designs are held in a controlled environment with all the variables being tightly controlled by the researcher. There is very little doubt for ambiguity and if the experiments are done properly, causal statements can be made. In this way, psychologist could safely predict repeated specific behavioural outcomes in the future. The experimental method clearly shows the reason why behaviour occurs and this is the methods main advantage. Randomly assigning subjects is crucial as it means subjects are solely by chance. If not researchers are unable in a tightly controlled environment to see the differences in behaviour between a preexisting factor and a reaction from the independent variable (Taylor, Peplau & Sears, 2006). The research is replicable giving refined results, establishing additional confidence to the hypothesis and due to its tight controls the experimental method also shows if any one of the hypothesis is worth studying in the first place. This method also allows for multi-level test. The experimental method has its drawbacks too. Some researchers claim that being held in a controlled environment is in it self artificial, intrusive and lacking validity as respondents tend to react differently than they would normally, if it was a real-life situation. Also the experimental method rigidly centers on structured data and test the hypothesis in a certain restricted fashion. It does not show the relationship between variables, only the effects each variable have on a theory. Biasness occurs if the experimenter views findings in their own way excluding or overlooking other variables concerned that could have attributed to the results of the test. Problems could occur in multi-level tests as managing increased numbers of respondents and the time consumed for the experiment could be overwhelming (Martin, 2000). The correlation observation method tests for correlation between two variables without controlling or manipulating either one of them experimentally. As it only records events relating to its variables it is flexible and more humanistic in its approach compared to the experimental method. The main advantage with the corelational method is research studies are possible where intervention is not possible and it is efficient in collecting large amounts of data for further research. However the limitation to this research is reverse-causality problem. It could occur as the study is ambiguous. A third-variable could be the actual cause responsible and not the first two variables initially tested. Ambiguity in this area makes the correlation study doubtful for studying cause-and-effect relationship. The big disadvantage for this method is that the variable measured cannot be concluded to be the cause of the behavioural outcome (Taylor, Peplau & Sears, 2006). A debate between the tobacco industry and the US Surgeon General on the consequences of smoking showed correlating evidence of smoking to lung cancer and other related illnesses but it could not pinpoint that smoking is the actual cause for lung cancer and other related illnesses as claimed by the US Surgeon General. Martin (2000) concluded that there could also be another reason for the illnesses of these ‘victims’ as he states that studies have shown that nervous people could also stimulate malignancy. Therefore the variable measured cannot be concluded to be the cause of the behavioural outcome Martin (2000)....

References: Banyard, P., Grayson, A. (2000). Introducing Psychological Research, Seventy Studies that Shape Psychology 2nd Edition. Palgrave.
Goodwin, J. C., (2005). Research in Psychology, Methods and Design 4th Edition. Wiley International Edition.
Martin, D. W., (2000). Doing Psychology experiments 5th Edition. Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.
Taylor, S. E., Peplau, L. A., Sears, D. O., (2006). Social Psychology 12th Edition. Prentice Hall.
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