Research Methods

Topics: Scientific method, Psychology, Observation Pages: 5 (864 words) Published: July 16, 2014

Comparisons of Research Design

There are several research design methods that have been developed for the field of psychology. Instead of arguing over which is the best method, it is more appropriate to compare two of the favored designs. Each one has positive attributes along with negative factors that may influence results. It is more important to understand and decipher which is the most appropriate method to utilize based upon the theory you are working towards. The two designs that will be discussed in this paper are the naturalistic observation and survey research.

Behavior is the fundamental factor that is measured in scientific psychology that include activities and other physiological indicators of thoughts and feelings (Elmes D., Kantowitz B., Roediger H., 2012). Therefore, a descriptive research method would be considered most useful because they yield descriptions of behavior (Danner, N. & Johnson, J., 2013). The naturalistic observation is a descriptive method that observes and records behavior in a natural setting without implementing any influence or control (Danner, N. & Johnson, J., 2013). This is not a common method just for researchers but much of the population has also participated in it as well; it is most commonly known as people watching. The main purpose of this method is to observe a behavior in the utmost natural form without any manipulation controlled by the investigator.

One advantage of the naturalistic observation design is that it allows the behavior being watched exactly the way it occurs in the real world. For example, to study the reaction of someone during a natural disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane, there would be no other manner to study besides having one occur. Another advantage of naturalistic observation is that it helps to establish an external validity of the research findings. When you see a behavior occurring in real life, it is easier to say the results extend to the general population. (Elmes D., Kantowitz B., Roediger H., 2012). The third advantage of the naturalistic observation method could be considered the most important of all. Ethical considerations could prevent a certain variable to be manipulated, however, it may be possible to observe this condition as it naturally occurs. For instance, a researcher interested in the reactions to a school shooting would not be able to cause a school shooting, however, they could observe behaviors and responses if one occurred.

A weakness that psychologists discuss in the naturalistic observation method is that there is too much emphasis on reactivity. Reactivity refers to situations when a subject’s behavior is different when they know their being observed or that their behavior is being studied (Elmes D., Kantowitz B., Roediger H., 2012). There are courses of action to avoid these negative factors by either not letting the subject know they are being observed or not to expose the true reason of the study. Either way, the ethical dilemma may still be present no matter what the process of the naturalistic observation method. The second method widely used is called survey research. This method is also

considered a descriptive research method but instead of observing behaviors, researchers

use interviews and/or questionnaires to gather information These tools help collect

information about attitudes, beliefs and experiences of either individuals or a targeted

population (Danner, N. & Johnson, J., 2013). A representative sample, which is a group

that mirrors the population being studied, is most commonly used in this method because

it is an approach that includes subgroups within the same proportions as they are

naturally found in a particular population.
The survey method may be most useful for comparing groups to...

References: Danner, N. and Johnson, J. (Eds.) (2013) page 55-56. Psychology: ORG5001 Survey of Psychology I. Boston: Pearson Custom Publishing.
Elmes D., Kantowitz B., Roediger H. (2012). Overview of Psychological Research. In Ganster, L., Matray T (Eds.), Research Methods In Psychology. (pp. 4-9). Belmont, CA:Wadsworth Publishing.

Robling, M., Ingledew, D., Greene, G., Sayers, A., Shaw, C., Sander, L., Russell, I. (2010). Applying An Extended Theoretical Framework For Data Collection Mode To Health Services Research. BMC Health Services Research, 10, 89-101.
doi: 10.1186/1472-6963-10-180
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