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Research Methods In Psychology Types And Guidelines

research methods in psychology

Due to the evolution of man over the years and with the rise of social issues, we had to come up with a way to study human behavior in response to these issues and consequently come up with solutions to thousands of problems. This led to the creation of a social science field known as psychology with different research methods in psychology being developed as time goes on.

Using the trial-and-error method, researchers developed various types of research methods in psychology that have helped gather useful information.

However, what are the research methods in psychology? We’ll be going into details on what psychology is and why this field of study is important. Then, you can decide the type of research methods in psychology that best fit your purpose as a student.

What Is Psychology, And Why Do People Study It?

Psychology involves the scientific study of our minds, behavior and mental processes. This is classified as sciences since it consists of a variety of experiments and systematic research to develop psychological theories.

These are all important in understanding complex human behavior. Data collected through these research methods can be demographic, physical, psychological or physiological.

However, it’s thanks to psychology that we can gain a better understanding of our relationship as humans with social problems in our immediate environment. The most prominent use of psychological research methods is in diagnosing mental health issues and approaches to solving them. There are also ethics guiding the various types of research methods in psychology.

What Are The Five Methods Of Research In Psychology?

There are 5 methods of research in psychology. Each of these methods are independent and can be used by students while writing their school papers. The methods are:

  1. Survey Method
    This research method is widely used in the sciences and not just in psychology. However, it’s a standard psychology research method due to its effectiveness in helping researchers gain valuable information on the different subject matter. The survey method is relatively straightforward.

    Respondents are those who would be answering questions on the research topic. So, they are sent surveys that provide direct data on their feelings and thoughts on various topics of interest.

    Surveys can be carried out through various channels, including paper, telephone, mail, in person or over the internet. In recent times, online surveys have become really popular due to their incredible flexibility. With online surveys, it’s easy to reach a broad audience and collect more samples for the research.

    So, surveys can come in handy for documenting various social problems, including gender-based issues and poverty. However, just as surveys are low-cost and give the needed qualitative data, they also leave room for poor question design from those who are not so skilled in its usage.

    The survey method of research can be classified into two based on methodology. These are quantitative and qualitative research.

    • Quantitative Research Method: This is used to collect samples on primarily numerical data. A better way to explain this is that the quantitative research method comes in handy for collecting statistical information towards getting valid results.

      If a researcher wants to find out how many people in an organization believe that mental health disorders exist, they would be able to collect valuable quantitative data using survey research. Several methods for this include systematic observation, face-to-face interviews and polls.

    • Qualitative Research Method: As opposed to the quantitative method, the qualitative research method involves the collection of non-numerical data. Therefore, researchers use this to gather strictly open-ended questions.

      An excellent example of this psychology research method is using surveys to collect customer feedback on a product. This can be done through focus groups, observations or one-on-one interviews.

  2. Observational Study
    One of the most effective types of research methods in psychology is an observational study.

    Just as it sounds, it involves the systematic study of human behavior to discover the variables that can impact their behavior individually or as a group.

    This is one of the most hands-on methods of psychological research as it has a high success rate in acquiring accurate data. However, this is described as a non-experimental research method as there are no controls that could interfere with results.

    It depends mainly on the study taking place in a natural setting but could involve mixed techniques, including quantitative and qualitative methods. There are two major types of observational study: naturalistic observation and participant observation.

    • Naturalistic observation: The major feature of naturalistic observation as one of the prevalent psychology research methods is that it takes place in the natural environment of all participants. Therefore, psychologies could choose to observe how incarcerated people in maximum prisons respond to several stimuli and their effect on their mental health.

      However, naturalistic observation could be done overtly or covertly. When carried out overtly, participants are usually aware that they are being observed. As you can expect, this could negatively affect the collected data as humans tend to modify their behavior when under observation.

      Alternatively, naturalistic observation can be carried out covertly in contexts where there’s no expectation of privacy. Therefore, the data collected are as natural as possible as the participants have no need to work on being on their best behavior all the time.

    • Participant observation: In this study method, the researcher is directly involved in the research process. While the goals of the observational study remain the same, the researcher actively engages with the individuals in the study setting. This could be through a disguised method where the psychology researcher pretends to be a member of a group to collect data and study the individuals.
  3. Case Studies
    Psychologists conduct in-depth investigations known as case studies to observe a person, community or group. This can be very useful for investigating the behavior and mental health of patients in a hospital.

    The advantage of the case study form of psychology research is that it provides a detailed understanding of a subject matter. Therefore, in psychology, a better understanding of a patient’s mental illness can be instrumental in deciding on effective treatment methods.

    The major feature of case study research is that psychologies can interview participants directly and also observe their behavior for a specific period of the research, as practiced by Sigmund Freud. This case study practitioner used case studies consistently to analyze patients, diagnose and consequently help them combat various psychological ailments.

    Ultimately, the goal is to collect as much relevant biographical information of the patient’s past and present life as much as possible to help in understanding their thinking and behavior.

    It’s no wonder that Jean Piaget’s cognitive development theory and psychoanalytic theory of Sigmund Freud, both products of case study research, are popular today.

    The case study psychology research method uses techniques like:

    • Unstructured interviews: While the individual goes about their daily life, researchers study their behavior and ask on-the-spot questions, which help to understand patterns that drive the participant’s decisions.
    • Psychological tests: Researchers can carry out various tests pertaining to mental health or social issues affecting the participants. Examples are mental health testing and aptitude tests. This leads to the collection of direct data, increasing the accuracy of results from the research.

    Other sources of data for case studies include notes and journals. These are then evaluated to identify the common themes for subsequent analysis.

  4. Content Analysis
    Content analysis involves analyzing and quantifying text-based data from sources such as written interviews, texts and articles. This information is used to identify patterns and themes that will help in providing valuable data in that field of research.

    This is a common research approach with clinical psychologies as they carry out content analysis using hand-written letters, business mails, patient interviews, and so much more. Data collected through content analysis of these sources can help in the development of effective psychological treatment methods.

    Forensic psychologists can also use content analysis to research severe mental health issues and behavioral problems.

    The general steps in the content analysis are:

    • Collect the data
    • Critically examine the research data to get familiar with concepts
    • Develop a specific set of rules for selecting the smallest part of the concept for analysis. This is known as the coding unit
    • Create the coding unit using the developed rules
    • Analyze the findings
    • Draw conclusions and determine the results of the research

    This research method in psychology is further subdivided into the conceptual and relational analysis.

    • Relational analysis. The steps in the relational analysis are:
      1. Selecting a concept to research.
      2. Divide the concept into various categories.
      3. Identifying the relationship between the multiple categories related to the central concept.

      The core focus in the relational analysis is to identify the association among the concepts and use this to assess useful information in the research data. Therefore, the central theme here is the relationship.

    • Conceptual analysis. The steps in the conceptual analysis are:
      1. Selecting a concept to research. This could be a word, phrase or sentence.
      2. Divide the concept into various categories. This makes it so much easier to pay more attention to the data that would provide useful information for psychology research.
      3. Examine how this concept occurs in the available research data.
      4. Code and analyze final results.

      Unlike relational analysis, conceptual analysis emphasises individual concepts in the research data.

  5. Psychological Testing
    Over the years, psychological tests as a research method in psychology have been used as standardized tests for obtaining accurate research data. Psychologists use this method, also known as psychometrics, to assess various human traits, including intelligence quotient, aptitude, emotional quotient, attitude and personality.

    Various types of psychological tests include educational testing, aptitude testing, personality assessment and mental health assessment. These tests can consist of multiple-choice questions that must be carefully designed with factors like age, gender and qualification in mind.

    However, it’s crucial for all participants to be adequately informed on the testing procedure and provided with instructions guiding the psychological tests. Psychological tests are governed by three important factors, and these are outlined below.

    • It must be valid: This is the most obvious criteria as your psychological test must be designed to measure the specific research data. A good example here is that a mental health assessment test should measure exactly that and not another parameter like physical health.
    • It must be reliable: The data gotten from this test will drive the direction of your research and be used in various contexts. Therefore, the psychological test must be reliable with almost negligible differences in the repeated test scores.
    • You must develop norms: These are the standard values that are a representation of the average performance of participants in a task. The importance of norms is that researchers use this to compare and interpret results from psychological tests. These could be percentile norms, age norms, grade norms or descriptive norms.

How To Carry Out Effective Psychology Research

These are some of the research methods psychology students engage in while in school, and they are a great boost and psychology dissertation help (if they are working on their theses). As you may have guessed by now, carrying out psychology research is no walk in the park. However, we have outlined the five major methods of research in psychology, and you can use any of these psychological research methods that applies to the objective of your research.

Apart from these, your teacher or professor can have specific requests on the type of psychology research method to use and guidelines on getting the best result as a student.

However, not everyone can carry out effective psychology research despite reading so much about it, and that’s where professional assistance comes in. Psychological research doesn’t have to be complicated when you have access to writing help to provide high-quality research results.

Get Help With Psychological Research

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