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Psychology Research Methods Study Guide

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Study Guide Table of Contents:

Psychology researchers study a wide variety of topics, ranging from the development of infants to the behavior of social groups. Psychologists use the scientific method to investigate questions both systematically and empirically. Use this study guide to familiarize yourself with the psychology research process or to brush up on your skills.

Introduction to Research Methods

Psychology experiments can range from simple to complex, but there are some basic terms and concepts that all students of psychology should understand. Start your studies by learning more about the different types of research, the basics of experimental design and relationships between variables.

The Scientific Method

Psychologists use the scientific method to conduct studies and research in psychology. The basic process for conducting psychology research involves asking a question, designing a study, collecting data, analyzing results, reaching conclusions and sharing the findings. Choosing a topic, selecting research methods, and figuring out how to analyze the data you collect can be intimidating, especially if you have little or no background in experimental methods. If you need help preparing for a research project, study, or experiment, start by reading this article outlining the basic steps in psychology research.

Correlational Research Methods

Correlational studies are one of the two major types of psychology research. Correlational studies are frequently used in psychology research to look for relationships between variables. While correlational studies can suggest that there is a relationship between two variables, finding a correlation does not prove that one variable causes a change in another variable. In other words, correlation does not equal causation. Learn more about the subtypes of correlational studies as well as methods of observation and scientific surveys.

Experimental Research Methods

The simple experiment is one of the most basic methods of determining if there is a cause-and-effect relationship between two variables. A simple experiment utilizes a control group of participants who receive no treatment and an experimental group of participants who receive the treatment. Experimenters then compare the results of the two groups to determine if the treatment had an effect. Find more information on the parts of a simple experiment and how results are measured.

Reliability

Reliability is a vital component of a valid psychological test. What is reliability? How do we measure it? Simply put, reliability refers to the consistency of a measure. A test is considered reliable if we get the same result repeatedly. Learn more about reliability in psychology tests.

Validity

When determining the merits of a psychological test, validity is one of the most important factors to consider. What is validity? One of the greatest concerns when creating a psychological test is whether or not it actually measures what we think it is measuring. For example, a test might be designed to measure a stable personality trait, but instead measure transitory emotions generated by situational or environmental conditions. A valid test ensures that the results are an accurate reflection of the dimension undergoing assessment.

Glossary of Terms

Applied Research
Basic Research
Case Study
Demand Characteristic
Dependent Variable
Descriptive Statistics
Double-Blind Study
Experimental Method
Hawthorn Effect
Mean
Median
Mode
Naturalistic Observation
Random Assignment
Replication
Selective Attrition

Research Methods Quiz

How well do you understand psychology research methods? Test your knowledge in this research methods quiz.

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