There are different methods of research use in Psychology. These are the Observation method, the Case Study method, the Survey method, the Experimental method and the Statistical method.
The observation method involves natural observation in the natural setting of the subject. The observer enters the world of the subject possibly without any hindrance. The observer tries to record information without obstruction or manipulation. This method is best performed when the subject is unaware of the investigation that was being made. It aims to show behaviors that would not ordinarily expressed if the subject is aware. The observation method is more often used as a preliminary method to the more exact method. The method is called as a “longitudinal study” or can be considered as a “more general observational method” when the observations are made of the same subjects over a long period of time. Longitudinal studies are extremely costly and time consuming. Usually this method is replaced by a compromise methods called as the “cross sectional method”, wherein the different subjects are observed to study their individual differences.
There are limitations to this naturalistic observation however since some behaviors cannot be observe with this method such as fantasy and dreams.
The case study method involves obtaining information by analyzing the history of the subject. This method helps expose the factors that shape the nature of the subject itself. However, conclusions obtained from case studies are usually considered as tentative. There must be confirmation from experiments and statistical analysis.
Sigmund Freud first used extensively this method. It involves gathering of extensive information about the subject person, the subject’s recollections of childhood and youth, the subject’s goal, values and the subject’s ideals, fears, anxieties, fantasies and dreams. This methods explains how early experiences are related to adult personalities.
The survey method involves acquiring direct information through the use of questionnaires, opinion polls, census, ratings and many others. The problem of this method is that some subjects are not honest; some may lie to appear bright, good or normal. However some investigators overcome all the factors that prevent the methods from working well. There are modern survey methods that designed to counterattacks the inaccuracies of the survey results. The advantage of this kind of method is that the investigator does not wait for the response to acquire naturally and acquires information directly of what he/she wants to know as well as he/she can accumulate large amount of observation in a short time period through asking questions behind their responses.
The experimental method is considered generally as the highest form of scientific methods. In this method, the investigator implements some changes in the subject’s environment. The investigator will then measure the effects on the changes on the subject’s behavior. The investigator brings the subject or subjects to a controlled environment and exposes them to different treatment. He/she then records the data in response to the treatment being implemented. In the experimental method, there are two groups that are being considered. The two groups are the “experimental group” and the “control group”. The first group is composed of all the subjects who receive the experimental treatment. The second group is composed of all the subjects who do not receive the treatment. Data from the first group are compared to the second group and analyzed to formulate possible conclusions.
The statistical approach involves acquiring information coming from the given statistics. Here investigators tries to determine or formulate possible conclusion by looking into the statistics of a given information that are associated with the subject.
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