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Introduction to Research Methods

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The Three Types of Psychology Research

Psychology research can usually be classified as one of three major types:

1. Causal Research

When most people think of scientific experimentation, research on cause-and-effect is most often brought to mind. Experiments on causal relationships investigate the effect of one or more variables on one or more outcome variables. This type of research also determines if one variable causes another variable to occur or change. An example of this type of research would be altering the amount of a treatment and measuring the effect on study participants.

2. Descriptive Research

Descriptive research seeks to depict what already exists in a group or population. An example of this type of research would be an opinion poll to determine which Presidential candidate people plan to vote for in the next election. Descriptive studies do not seek to measure the effect of a variable; they seek only to describe.

3. Relational Research

A study that investigates the connection between two or more variables is considered relational research. The variables that are compared are generally already present in the group or population. For example, a study that looked at the proportion of males and females that would purchase either a classical CD or a jazz CD would be studying the relationship between gender and music preference.

Next: Theory and Hypothesis

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