Research in Psychology
The main purpose of research is to inform action, to prove a theory, and contribute to developing knowledge in a field or study.
Psychology is not an absolute science and is often referred to as a ‘Social Science’ or a ‘Soft Science.’ This is because it deals with human thoughts, feelings, and behavior, and as we are all aware, humans are not always predictable and reliable. Instead, we interact with our environment in ways that alter how we behave, how we think, and how we feel. Change one thing and the domino effect can change everything else.
Nevertheless, research plays an extremely important role in psychology. Research helps us understand what makes people think, feel, and act in certain ways; allows us to categorize psychological disorders in order to understand the symptoms and impact on the individual and society; helps us to understand how intimate relationships, development, schools, family, peers, and religion affect us as individuals and as a society; and helps us to develop effective treatments to improve the quality of life of individuals and groups.
In this sense, psychological research is typically used for the following:
- Study development and external factors and the role they play on individuals’ mental health
- Study people with specific psychological disorders, symptoms, or characteristics
- Develop tests to measure specific psychological phenomenon
- Develop treatment approaches to improve individuals’ mental health
In the following sections, you will learn about how research is conducted and the different types of research methods used to gather information.
A careful consideration of study regarding a particular concern or problem using scientific methods. According to the American sociologist Earl Robert Babbie, “Research is a systematic inquiry to describe, explain, predict, and control the observed phenomenon. Research involves inductive and deductive methods.”
Inductive research methods are used to analyze an observed event. Deductive methods are used to verify the observed event. Inductive approaches are associated with qualitative research and deductive methods are more commonly associated with quantitative research.
Research is conducted with a purpose to understand:
- What do organizations or businesses really want to find out?
- What are the processes that need to be followed to chase the idea?
- What are the arguments that need to be built around a concept?
- What is the evidence that will be required for people to believe in the idea or concept?
Characteristics of research
- A systematic approach must be followed for accurate data. Rules and procedures are an integral part of the process that set the objective. Researchers need to practice ethics and a code of conduct while making observations or drawing conclusions.
- Research is based on logical reasoning and involves both inductive and deductive methods.
- The data or knowledge that is derived is in real time from actual observations in natural settings.
- There is an in-depth analysis of all data collected so that there are no anomalies associated with it.
- Research creates a path for generating new questions. Existing data helps create more opportunities for research.
- Research is analytical in nature. It makes use of all the available data so that there is no ambiguity in inference.
- Accuracy is one of the most important aspects of research. The information that is obtained should be accurate and true to its nature. For example, laboratories provide a controlled environment to collect data. Accuracy is measured in the instruments used, the calibrations of instruments or tools, and the final result of the experiment.
What Is the Purpose of Research?
There are three purposes of research:
- Exploratory: As the name suggests, exploratory research is conducted to explore a group of questions. The answers and analytics may not offer a final conclusion to the perceived problem. It is conducted to handle new problem areas which haven’t been explored before. This exploratory process lays the foundation for more conclusive research and data collection.
- Descriptive: Descriptive research focuses on expanding knowledge on current issues through a process of data collection. Descriptive studies are used to describe the behavior of a sample population. In a descriptive study, only one variable is required to conduct the study. The three main purposes of descriptive research are describing, explaining, and validating the findings. For example, a study conducted to know if top-level management leaders in the 21st century possess the moral right to receive a huge sum of money from the company profit.
- Explanatory:Explanatory research or causal research is conducted to understand the impact of certain changes in existing standard procedures. Conducting experiments is the most popular form of casual research. For example, a study conducted to understand the effect of rebranding on customer loyalty.
To understand the characteristic of research design using research purpose here is a comparative analysis:
|Exploratory Research||Descriptive Research||Explanatory Research|
|Research approach used||Unstructured||Structured||Highly structured|
|Research conducted through||Asking research questions||Asking research questions||By using research hypotheses.|
|When is it conducted?||Early stages of decision making||Later stages of decision making||Later stages of decision making|
Research method is defined as the tools or instruments used to accomplish the goals and attributes of a study. Think of the methodology as a systematic process in which the tools or instruments will be employed. There is no use of a tool if it is not being used efficiently.
Research begins by asking the right questions and choosing an appropriate method to investigate the problem. After collecting answers to your questions, you can analyze the findings or observations to draw appropriate conclusions.
When it comes to customers and market studies, the more thorough your questions, the better. By thoroughly collecting data from customers through surveys and questionnaires, you get important insights into brand perception and product needs. You can use this data to make smart decisions about your marketing strategies to position your business effectively.
Qualitative research is a method that collects data using conversational methods. Participants are asked open-ended questions. The responses collected are essentially non-numerical. This method not only helps a researcher understand what participants think but also why they think in a particular way.
Types of qualitative methods include:
- One-to-one Interview: This interview is conducted with one participant at a given point in time. One-to-one interviews need a researcher to prepare questions in advance. The researcher asks only the most important questions to the participant. This type of interview lasts anywhere between 20 minutes to half an hour. During this time the researcher collects as many meaningful answers as possible from the participants to draw inferences.
- Focus Groups: Focus groups are small groups comprising of around 6-10 participants who are usually experts in the subject matter. A moderator is assigned to a focus group who facilitates the discussion amongst the group members. A moderator’s experience in conducting the focus group plays an important role. An experienced moderator can probe the participants by asking the correct questions that will help them collect a sizable amount of information related to the research.
- Ethnographic Research: Ethnographic research is an in-depth form of research where people are observed in their natural environment without This method is demanding due to the necessity of a researcher entering a natural environment of other people. Geographic locations can be a constraint as well. Instead of conducting interviews, a researcher experiences the normal setting and daily life of a group of people.
- Text Analysis: Text analysis is a little different from other qualitative methods as it is used to analyze social constructs by decoding words through any available form of documentation. The researcher studies and understands the context in which the documents are written and then tries to draw meaningful inferences from it. Researchers today follow activities on a social media platform to try and understand patterns of thoughts.
- Case Study: Case study research is used to study an organization or an entity. This method is one of the most valuable options for modern This type of research is used in fields like the education sector, philosophical studies, and psychological studies. This method involves a deep dive into ongoing research and collecting data.
Quantitative Research Methods
Quantitative methods deal with numbers and measurable forms. It uses a systematic way of investigating events or data. It is used to answer questions in terms of justifying relationships with measurable variables to either explain, predict, or control a phenomenon.
There are three methods that are often used by researchers:
- Survey Research — The ultimate goal of survey research is to learn about a large population by deploying a survey. Today, online surveys are popular as they are convenient and can be sent in an email or made available on the internet. In this method, a researcher designs a survey with the most relevant survey questions and distributes the survey. Once the researcher receives responses, they summarize them to tabulate meaningful findings and data.
- Descriptive Research — Descriptive research is a method which identifies the characteristics of an observed phenomenon and collects more information. This method is designed to depict the participants in a very systematic and accurate manner. In simple words, descriptive research is all about describing the phenomenon, observing it, and drawing conclusions from it.
- Correlational Research— Correlational research examines the relationship between two or more variables. Consider a researcher is studying a correlation between cancer and married Married women have a negative correlation with cancer. In this example, there are two variables: cancer and married women. When we say negative correlation, it means women who are married are less likely to develop cancer. However, it doesn’t mean that marriage directly avoids cancer.
Identifying Research Methodology
To choose the appropriate types of research, you need to clearly identify the objectives. Some objectives to take into consideration for your business include:
- Find out the needs of your clients.
- Know their preferences and understand what is important to them.
- Find an appropriate way to make your customers aware of your products and services.
- Find ways to improve your products or services to suit the needs of your customers.
After identifying what you need to know, you should ask what research methods will offer you that information.
Organize your questions within the framework of the 7 Ps of marketing that influence your company – product, price, promotion, place, people, processes, and physical tests.
A well-organized customer research process produces valid, accurate, reliable, timely, and complete results. Results that rigorously reflect the opinions and needs of your clients will help you grow your sales and improve your operations.
Statistics in Psychology
A branch of mathematics devoted to the collection, compilation, display, and interpretation of numerical data.
Psychologists rely heavily on statistics to help assess the meaning of the measurements they make. Sometimes the measurements involve individuals who complete psychological tests; at other times, the measurements involve statistics that describe general properties of groups of people or animals.
In psychological testing, the psychologist may interpret test results in light of norms, or the typical results, provided from previous testing. In research, psychologists use two kinds of statistics, descriptive and inferential. Descriptive statistics simply give a general picture of the scores in a given group. They include the measures of central tendency and the measures of variability. Central tendency involves different kinds of averages: the mean, median, and mode. Variability involves the standard deviation, which indicates how far scores in a group are likely to be from the average.
Inferential statistics are used to help psychologists draw inferences, or conclusions, from the data obtained from their research. The most common statistical tests include the student’s T-test and the Analysis of Variance (or F-test); these statistics help the psychologist assess whether the differences in averages across groups are due to the effects of an independent variable. Another widely used inferential statistic is the correlation coefficient, which describes the strength of the relationship between two variables. For example, there is a positive correlation between a student’s score on the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) and his/her grades in the first year of college. Correlations involve patterns that exist in groups; individuals within those groups may not perform in the manner the correlation predicts that they will, but if large numbers of students are tested, general trends may be detected.
What is APA?
APA stands for the American Psychological Association, which is an organization that focuses on psychology. They are responsible for creating this specific citation style. They are not associated with this guide, but all of the information here provides guidance to using their style.
What is APA Citing?
APA style is used by many scholars and researchers in the behavioral and social sciences, not just psychology. There are other citation formats and styles such as MLA and Chicago citation style, but this one is most popular in the fields of science.
Following the same standard format for citations allows readers to understand the types of sources used in a project and also understand their components.
The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association is currently in its 6th edition. It outlines proper ways to organize and structure a research paper, explains grammar guidelines, and how to properly cite sources. This webpage was created solely by BibMe to help students and researchers focus on how to create APA citations. For more information, please consult the official Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, (6th ed.).
We cite sources for many reasons. One reason is to give credit to the authors of the work you used to help you with your own research. When you use another person’s information to help you with your project, it is important to acknowledge that individual or group. This is one way to prevent plagiarism. Another reason why we create citations is to provide a standard way for others to understand and possibly explore the sources we used. To learn more about citations, check out this page on crediting work. Also, read up on how to be careful of plagiarism.