Introducing Psychology through Research

By Amanda Albon | Go to book overview

2 The method behind
the psychology

Chapter 2 reviews the research process, describes different research methods and explains why statistical analysis is used. It also explains the key terms used in research and gives a brief summary of some real research.


The research cycle

Psychology uses systematic methods of investigation to discover facts, as do all science subjects. Investigation can start from curiosity about something we have observed or from theories. From these theories, we make predictions. We can test these predictions by gathering data. The set of data is then summarized and/or analysed using statistics, to see whether it shows a true finding or if the finding happened by chance. If we are confident that our data is reliable, we then have a finding which can mean one of two things. The finding can either agree with (support) our prediction showing us that the theory is correct, or the finding may not support our prediction. If it supports our prediction, we can then test other aspects of the theory. However, if it does not support our prediction, we have to start to work out why. Maybe there was a flaw in the way we did the research? In this case, we would have to eliminate the flaw and retest the prediction. Maybe it means that the theory is not correct in the first place? In this situation, we would need to refine the theory and start testing again. This is how research goes on in a cycle.


Research methods

Psychologists find out facts about human behaviour by collecting information. The different ways of collecting information are known as research methods. The information gathered by these methods can be in a numerical form (called quantitative) that can be counted, such as the number of times a

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