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Research Methods. Approaches to studying human behavior using the scientific method (systematic, empirical observation). During this presentation, you will be asked some questions…. Make sure you stop to reflect on the answers to these questions before going on to the next slide.

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research methods

Research Methods

Approaches to studying human behavior using the scientific method (systematic, empirical observation)

during this presentation you will be asked some questions
During this presentation, you will be asked some questions….
  • Make sure you stop to reflect on the answers to these questions before going on to the next slide.
  • Review the PowerPoint presentation, pages in the text, or talk to classmates to find the answers to questions that you aren’t sure of.
  • Bring any REMAINING questions (for which you don’t have answers) to our next class.
slide4
The type of question in which you’re interested might influence which of the research methods you would be more likely to use.
slide5

In the next slide, you will be asked to choose one of five questions about people. As we go through each of the different research methods, you should think about how well each method would work in answering the question you have chosen.

choose one of the following questions about people
Choose one of the following questions about people:
  • Do women get more emotional than men when they do poorly on an exam?
  • How do people choose where and with whom to sit in Marbeck Commons?
  • What is it like to be an international student at Bluffton University?
  • Do students participate more in morning or in afternoon classes?
  • What sorts of food items would students be most interested in having Marbeck serve?
the five research methods we ll be looking at are
The five research methods we’ll be looking at are….
  • Naturalistic observation
  • Case studies
  • Surveys & Interviews
  • Quasi-experiment
  • Controlled experiments
a couple of comments before we get started
A couple of comments before we get started
  • This presentation reviews & expands upon the reading from your text (Module 2). You should read those pages either before or along with this PowerPoint presentation
  • These five methods sometimes overlap, and there are not clean distinctions between them. Also, sometimes researchers use some combination of these approaches. Still the categories can help you to recognize different general approaches to gathering empirical data.
naturalistic observation
Naturalistic Observation
  • Systematically observing people in their natural environment, e.g., in a classroom, in their living rooms, on a street corner, in a shopping mall, etc.
  • Though we all observe people, naturalistic observation can be made more systematic by the following processes:
    • Clear conceptualization and operationalization of variables
wait a minute

Wait a minute!!!!

WHAT do “conceptualization” and “operationalization” mean???

And WHAT is a “variable”?

good question here are some definitions

Good question!!! Here are some definitions!!!

A variable is the “thing” that you’re interested in studying—like depression or gender or levels of emotionality (how emotional someone is) or different types of food!

to conceptualize a variable means to get clear about what you mean by the variable

To “conceptualize” a variable means to get clear about what you mean by the variable….

For example, for the variable “food type,” you need to be clear about whether you mean (1) vegetarian or meat, OR

(2) breakfast, lunch or dinner foods, OR

(3) Ethiopian, Thai or American foods, OR (4) something else!

slide13
By the way, things like depression, gender, level of emotionality and food type, etc. are called “variables” because they vary.

Some people are more depressed than others

Some people are men, and others are women

Some people are less emotional than others

Food types can range from pizza to hamburgers to filet mignon, or might be Thai, Ethiopian, Polish or American cuisine, etc., etc.

to operationalize a variable is to decide how you will measure it
To “operationalize” a variable is to decide how you will measure it
  • For example, if the variable you’re interested in is depression:
    • Will you ask people to rate themselves, and if so, on what sort of a scale?
    • Alternatively, will you measure depression by facial expression? By some behavior that you observe? In some other way?
to operationalize a variable is to decide how you will measure it15
To “operationalize” a variable is to decide how you will measure it
  • If the variable you’re studying is intelligence & you don’t think GPA is a good measure of intelligence, what measure WILL you use?
  • Asking these sorts of questions is completing the process of “operationalizing” your variables.
  • By the way, conceptualization & operationalization are necessary for ALL the different research methods (not just for naturalistic observation)
naturalistic observation16
Naturalistic Observation
  • (As I was saying…) though we all observe people, naturalistic observation can be made more systematic by the following processes:
    • Clear conceptualization and operationalization of variables
    • Systemized procedures for recording observed behavior
    • Multiple observers who “check” each other’s observations & work
case study
Case Study
  • In depth study of an individual or small group of individuals
  • Notice that the study is “in depth”!! Some case studies involve spending hours, days, months, years with a particular person to understand them thoroughly
  • Used most often in study of rare phenomena, e.g., people with particular types of brain damage or other rare conditions, serial killers, particularly creative people or people with other rare abilities, etc.
surveys interviews
Surveys/Interviews
  • Questioning individuals through paper & pencil, phone interviews or face-to-face interviews
  • May ask about just one variable or may gather information on multiple variables in an attempt to study the relationship between them
controlled experiments quasi experimental designs

(At this point, we’re going to look at these two designs together, focusing on the similarities between them. Later on in this presentation, we’ll talk about how they differ)

Controlled Experiments & Quasi-Experimental Designs
controlled experiments quasi experimental designs20
Controlled Experiments & Quasi-Experimental Designs
  • The main type of experiment that we’re going to look at involves comparing two or more groups. The groups differ on some variable(s) –called INDEPENDENT VARIABLES--and the effect of those variables on other variables –called DEPENDENT VARIABLES-- is being studied through the experiment.
some new terms independent and dependent variables
Some new terms: Independent and Dependent Variables
  • The independent variable is the variable that the researcher thinks is the CAUSE of some other variables (i.e., the hypothesized cause).
  • The dependent variable is the effect being studied. The researcher wants to figure out what causes the dependent variable
  • In other words, the researcher is hypothesizing that the independent variable causes the dependent variable and is doing her experiment to test this hypothesis.
independent and dependent variables
Independent and Dependent Variables
  • To make sure you understand this, think about the experiment that Dr. Nath did in class--where two students (one male & one female) had to try to catch a ruler dropped through their fingers…
    • What was the independent variable in this experiment?
    • What was the dependent variable?
independent and dependent variables in the class demonstration
Independent and Dependent Variables in the Class Demonstration
  • The independent variable was GENDER
  • The dependent variable was REACTION TIME (i.e., how quick the ruler was caught)
  • You know this because…
    • the hypothesis was that gender causes differences in reaction time
    • The experimenter believes that the CAUSE of different reaction times is gender.
    • The CAUSE is the independent variable.
    • The EFFECT is the dependent variable.
let s try another one to make sure you understand these terms
Let’s try another one to make sure you understand these terms…
  • Dr. Nath wrote the following question on the board: “Why do some students succeed academically (whereas others fail)? “ In this question, are we approaching academic success as an independent variable or a dependent variable?
    • In this question, academic success is a DEPENDENT variable because we’re trying to figure out what causes it.
    • If we believe that having clear goals causes some people to succeed in school whereas others fail, then we are interested in studying the presence or absence of clear goals as an independent variable, a possible CAUSE of academic success or failure.
ok back to controlled experiments quasi experimental designs
OK…back to… Controlled Experiments & Quasi-Experimental Designs
  • In these sorts of experiments, the groups DIFFER on the independent variable and the researcher then looks at whether the groups ALSO DIFFER on the dependent variable.
  • If the hypothesis is true, then they do. If they don’t, then the hypothesis must not be true. Do you understand why this is the case? (If not, ask about this in class)
how do controlled experimental designs quasi experiments differ
How do Controlled Experimental Designs & quasi-experiments differ?
  • In the controlled experimental design, the researcher controls the administration of the independent variable and then measures the dependent variable
for example let s imagine a researcher who is interested in the following hypothesis
For example, let’s imagine a researcher who is interested in the following hypothesis:
  • Hypothesis: Students who study for tests in study groups do better on their tests
  • Given this hypothesis, what are the independent & dependent variables?
    • The researcher believes that study groups CAUSE improved academic performance….
    • SO…the independent variable is study groups and the dependent variable is academic performance
hypothesis students who study for tests in study groups do better on their tests
Hypothesis: Students who study for tests in study groups do better on their tests
  • In controlled experimental design, the researcher CONTROLS the administration of the independent variable, meaning that she decides (controls) who will be in study groups and who won’t.
some more terms
Some more terms….
  • There are some subjects who are administered the independent variable (in this case, study groups) and some subjects who aren’t
  • The group of subjects to whom the independent variable is administered is called the experimental group.
  • The other group is called the control group.
  • The control group and the experimental group should be the same in all other ways. The only way in which they should differ is on the independent variable.
slide30

The control group and the experimental group should be the same in all other ways. The only way in which they should differ is on the independent variable.

  • Do you remember what happened in the experiment I did in class? How did NOT following this rule create problems?
  • NOT following this rule meant that there were extraneous variables that might be alternative explanations for the findings, so the researcher couldn’t REALLY know if the independent variable was responsible for any differences on the dependent variable or not.
how do controlled experimental designs quasi experiments differ31
How do Controlled Experimental Designs & quasi-experiments differ?
  • As we just said, in controlled experimental designs, the researcher controls what subjects receive the independent variable and what subjects don’t and in doing so, forms the groups.
  • In contrast, in quasi-experimental designs, the researcher studies groups that ALREADY have preexisting differences. The groups differ on the independent variable, but the researcher doesn’t CONTROL this difference between the groups.
how do controlled experimental designs quasi experiments differ32
How do Controlled Experimental Designs & quasi-experiments differ?
  • Now can you see why the experiment we did in class was quasi-experimental rather than controlled experimental design?
    • In fact, can you see why you can’t use controlled experimental design to study gender as an independent variable?
    • Can you think of any other variables that you would need to use quasi-experimental (rather than a controlled experiment) if you were interested in studying them as independent variables?
how do controlled experimental designs quasi experiments differ33
How do Controlled Experimental Designs & quasi-experiments differ?
  • We’ll talk a little bit later about the implications of these differences.
some questions to help you reflect on the value limitations of each of these methods
Some questions to help you reflect on the value & limitations of each of these methods….
  • One of these methods is limited because it involves studying only a small number of people, and so this may be a problem if we want to generalize the results (i.e., applied to other people who haven’t been studied). Which of these methods would be most susceptible to this problem?
  • Note that this research method would be unlikely to be used if the researcher is particularly interested in generalizing to a larger group of people?
some questions to help you reflect on the value limitations of each of these methods35
Some questions to help you reflect on the value & limitations of each of these methods….
  • One of these methods is limited to only studying things that can be observed and can’t be used (for example) to study how someone THINKS about something. Which of these methods might this be true for?
  • As was noted earlier, one of these methods can not be used to study any independent variables that the researcher can not realistically or ethically “control.” Do you remember which one?
some questions to help you reflect on the value limitations of each of these methods36
Some questions to help you reflect on the value & limitations of each of these methods….
  • One of these research methods is particularly good when you’re studying something that it’s important to understand in the context in which it occurs in order to really understand it (e.g., like gang behavior). Which research method would that be?
some questions to help you reflect on the value limitations of each of these methods37
Some questions to help you reflect on the value & limitations of each of these methods….
  • One of these research methods depends a lot on self-report, and so if you’re studying something that people might not be willing to tell you OR something about people that they might not be able to tell you (that they don’t really understand about themselves), then you would be less likely to use this method. What method would that be?
slide38

Which of the five research methods would you be most likely to use to address the question that you chose toward the beginning of this PowerPoint presentation?

Tip: Thinking about how the questions on the preceding slides apply to the research question you chose should help you to answer this question.

slide39

You’ll want to review the answers for each question, (not just your own) given on the following slides b/c it should help you understand each of the methods a bit better.

do women get more emotional than men when they do poorly on an exam
Do women get more emotional than men when they do poorly on an exam?
  • Which research methods could you use to answer this question?
    • For this question, you are unlikely to use a case study, and you are UNABLE to use a controlled experimental design. Do you know why each of these is true?
    • Naturalistic observation, surveys/interviews, or a quasi-experimental design would all be possible approaches to answering this question.
    • How would each of these approaches provide a somewhat different answer to this same research question?
how do people choose where and with whom to sit in marbeck commons
How do people choose where and with whom to sit in Marbeck Commons?
  • For this question, you are unlikely to use a case study, a quasi-experiment or a controlled experimental design. Why?
  • Naturalistic observation or surveys/interviews would be the most likely methods that you would use.
  • What would be some of the drawbacks of surveys or interviews that naturalistic observation would avoid?
what is it like to be an international student at bluffton university
What is it like to be an international student at Bluffton University?
  • For this question, it would be impossible to do a controlled experimental design--for the same reason it’s impossible for the question about gender & emotionality. Do you know why?
  • You’re also unlikely to use naturalistic observation or quasi-experimental design. Can you imagine why?
  • The most likely approach that would be used in studying this question would be case studies or surveys/interviews. Why?
    • Note that being an international student at Bluffton University is “rare” (meaning, there are not large numbers to study)–case studies are used most often in studying rare phenomenon.
do students participate more in morning or in afternoon classes
Do students participate more in morning or in afternoon classes?
  • For this question, you’re unlikely to use a case study. Why?
  • Any of the other approaches is possible! Which do you think would work best? Why?
    • Of the four, I think the strongest case could be made for using either naturalistic observation or controlled experimental design. What would be the benefits of each approach? What about the limitations?
what sorts of food items would students be most interested in having marbeck serve
What sorts of food items would students be most interested in having Marbeck serve?
  • For this question, a researcher is unlikely to use a case study, a quasi-experiment or a controlled experiment. Do you know why?
  • Either naturalistic observation or surveys/interviews would be possible. Which do you think is best & why?
slide45
What design is the best one to use to answer the question: which sorts of menus would students be most interested in having Marbeck serve?
  • In naturalistic observation, you would watch students in Marbeck & see what menu items they choose. In what ways might this limit the answers you find?
    • What students choose to eat in Marbeck may not be the best measure of what they are interested in having served; they may be most interested in some items that are not available.
  • Because of this limitation, naturalistic observation may not be the best approach.
slide46
What design is the best one to use to answer the question: which sorts of menus would students be most interested in having Marbeck serve?
  • The most likely, & probably best method would be to complete surveys or interviews.
  • When the question involves people’s opinions, surveys/interviews are the most common research method that is used. They provide the means for a large group of people to provide information regarding what their opinions are.
in surveys interviews
In Surveys/Interviews…
  • The wording used for the questions is very important. A minor change in wording might result in very different answers.
  • Who you choose to survey or interview is very important.
    • Researchers rarely interview ALL the people in which they are interested
who you choose to survey or interview is very important
Who you choose to survey or interview is very important.
  • For example, you may want to know what Bluffton University students prefer to eat in the cafeteria, but you will probably NOT ask each & every Bluffton student in finding this out.
  • Instead, researchers survey or interview a smaller number of people (called a sample) who are expected to represent the entire group of people in which you are interested (the population).
  • Researchers then generalize the answer they get from the sample to the population. For this to work, the choice of the sample is critical.
the choice of the sample is critical
The choice of the sample is critical….
  • The sample must be large enough in order for the researcher to be able to generalize to the population. (I shouldn’t interview two students and then say what all Bluffton students think!)
  • The sample also needs to be representative of the population, so for example, I shouldn’t just talk to seniors…. or to men… or to white students… or to religious students, etc. If I am interested in saying something about ALL Bluffton students, I need to talk to a sample of people that adequately represents all of the differences in the population.
surveys interviews51
Surveys/Interviews
  • Can be used to describe how a certain group feels about a variable or variables OR can be used to try to study the relationship between two variables (e.g., an independent & dependent variable)
  • Surveys/interviews have some problems with doing the latter, e.g., proving anything about cause & effect. This is because they yield correlational data.
what is correlational data
WHAT is “correlational data”?????
  • A correlation is a relationship between two variables. When two variables are correlated, that means they are related to each other in one of two ways:
    • Positive correlation: as one of the variables increases, so does the other
    • Negative correlation: as one of the variables increases, the other decreases
correlational data
Correlational Data
  • Two variables can be positively or negatively correlated or not correlated at all (unrelated)
  • Note that negative correlations indicate that there IS a relationship between the variables, the relationship is just an inverse one.
slide54
It is a fact that studies have found a correlation between the number of churches in a town & the number of bars.
  • Would you expect this correlation to be positive or negative?
  • Actually, although it is different from what most people expect, the correlation between the # of bars & the # of churches is a positive one--the more churches there are, the more bars there are. (A negative correlation would mean that the more churches, the LESS bars there are.)
  • Does this mean that going to church makes people more likely to frequent bars???
  • Possibly… but can you think of any other possible explanations for this relationship?
positive correlation between the churches bars other possible explanations
Positive correlation between the # churches & # bars—other possible explanations
  • It is also possible that going to bars may make people more likely to go to church! This too would result in a positive correlation.
  • However, here’s a hint: The most likely explanation for this relationship is that there is a THIRD VARIABLE that influences both the # of churches & the # of bars.
positive correlation between the churches bars other possible explanations56
Positive correlation between the # churches & # bars—other possible explanations
  • The size of the population is a third variable that is positively correlated to both of these other variables and probably explains why they are related to one another.
  • Rather than going to church making it more likely to go to bars OR vice versa, it is more likely that the larger the population size, the more churches there are AND the larger the population size, the more bars there are. So when you find a lot of bars, you also find a lot of churches although probably neither of them causes the other.
correlation does not mean causation
Correlation does NOT mean causation
  • Correlation tells us nothing about the direction of the relationship between two variables or whether either of them really causes the other
correlation does not mean causation58
Correlation does NOT mean causation
  • When A & B are correlated, there are a number of possible explanations of the relationship between A & B. As we’ve seen in our example, these include the possibility that:
    • A causes B
    • B causes A
    • C causes A AND C causes B (where “C” is some third variable—an EXTRANEOUS variable)
    • A & B are reciprocally related, i.e., they both CAUSE the other (it’s impossible to know “which came first,” like the chicken & the egg)
surveys interviews yield correlational data
Surveys/interviews yield correlational data
  • Because of this, they do not provide definitive answers regarding causation.
  • The SAME is true for each of the other research methods we’ve reviewed EXCEPT FOR controlled experimental design.
  • How does controlled experimental design get around this problem? How does it yield results that are more than just correlational?
slide60
Controlled experimental design can say something about cause (whereas correlational data can’t) BECAUSE:
  • It controls or deals with extraneous variables
    • How does it do this?
how does controlled experimental design eliminate or deal with extraneous variables
How does controlled experimental design eliminate or deal with extraneous variables?
  • First, it eliminates as many extraneous variables as it can by standardizing the experimental procedure so that all groups experience the same thing
  • For example, as we have discussed, placebo (such as “sugar pills”) are sometimes used to make sure the control & experimental group do not differ on the extraneous variable of “believing the treatment will work.” Placebos make sure that ALL groups have this same belief. Remember the goal is to make EVERYTHING is the same between the experimental and the control group EXCEPT for the independent variable?
how does controlled experimental design eliminate or deal with extraneous variables62
How does controlled experimental design eliminate or deal with extraneous variables?
  • Secondly, it does this through the way it assigns subjects to groups.
  • Subjects are assigned to groups through random assignment.
  • What is random assignment?
random assignment
Random Assignment
  • In random assignment, each subject has an equal likelihood of ending up in either of the groups.
  • Because subjects are randomly assigned, any preexisting extraneous variables are spread equally between the two groups. Because the extraneous variables are split between the groups equally, they can not explain the reason for any differences that exist between the control & the experimental group at the end of the experiment. The only thing that can explain the difference between the groups is the independent variable because it’s the only way the groups differed.
slide64
So….Controlled experimental design can say something about cause (whereas correlational data can’t) BECAUSE:
  • It controls or deals with extraneous variables AND
  • In controlled experimental design, the researcher administers the independent variable so we KNOW that it is the independent variable that is causing the dependent variable and not the other way around. (By administering the independent variable, the “chicken & the egg” problem are eliminated.)
now that you re done with this presentation

Now that you’re done with this presentation….

You should be able to answer all the questions that I asked within the presentation, AND….

slide66
Case study

Naturalistic observation

Surveys/interviews

Controlled experimental design

Quasi-experimental design

Variables

Independent variable

Dependent variable

Conceptualization & operationalization of variables

Extraneous variables

Control group

Experimental group

Random assignment

Population vs. sample

Representative sample

Correlation

You should be familiar with the following terms or concepts:(if not, you will want to review the presentation again)
good luck

If you have completed this presentation, know the answers to the questions in the presentation, and have finished reading the text, you are now ready to take the quiz on Jenzabar…..

Good luck!!!