Article

Research Methods

Dana S. Dunn

in Psychology

ISBN: 9780199828340
Published online November 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0049
Research Methods

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
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Psychology is an empirical science, one dealing with the prediction of behavior in humans and animals. Conducting empirical research focused on predicting behavior requires the use of research methods. Research methods are the practical tools and techniques psychologists employ to scientifically investigate research questions. Once a hypothesis is formulated, research methodology allows a researcher to execute a study designed to answer such testable questions through manipulating and measuring relevant variables. Research methods in psychology are broad and varied, and their use allows psychologists to appropriately test theories in search of demonstrable cause and effect relationships. These methods lie along a continuum from more passive approaches (e.g., observation) to active interventions (e.g., experimentation) designed to explain why organisms behave as they do. In general, research methods help investigators act ethically, reduce sources of bias that can affect interpretation, rule out alternative explanations for results, demonstrate that findings are valid and reliable, and advance theory development. Research methods are distinguishable by approach (qualitative or quantitative), how the data are sampled, and the type of equipment, if any, relied on for data collection. Although all psychologists are likely to possess a shared understanding of basic research methodology (particularly, for example, the need for randomization), different subfields within psychology are apt to rely on distinct methods designed to examine different levels of behavior. Traditionally, research methods in psychology have relied as much as possible on objective or quantitative approaches, where a favored hypothesis is pitted against some alternative account. Relevant designs incorporate control groups in order to verify predicted relationships by comparing them against competing possible outcomes. Increasingly, however, psychologists are becoming open to exploring more subjective or qualitative approaches where participants’ own perspectives, beliefs, and reports constitute acceptable data. Many psychologists now employ a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods in their research efforts. The first section of this bibliography introduces general overviews, textbooks, and reference works detailing research methods used in experimental, developmental, social, and personality psychology. Attention is also paid to works examining teaching research methods, selective journals that publish articles presenting novel methods, as well as methodological controversies. The bibliography’s remaining sections examine particular methodological approaches, many of which include studies illustrating innovative or modified methods. This selective review highlights issues pertaining to data (collection methods, interpretation, and research design). The bibliography concludes with coverage of ethical debates and issues linked to human as well as animal behavior.

Article.  11812 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Developmental Psychology ; Health Psychology ; History and Systems in Psychology ; Educational Psychology ; Social Psychology

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