Doing Psychological Research: Gathering and Analysing Data

By Nicky Hayes | Go to book overview

2
Gathering data for
psychological research

Sampling

The participant as agent

Ethics and practicality

In this chapter, we will be looking at some of the issues which arise when we are aiming to gather data from human beings. These issues range from the problems of sampling groups of research participants, to looking at the kinds of problems which occur because our participants are thinking, co-operative human beings, to looking at the ethical considerations which need to be addressed in modern psychology.

As we will be seeing in the next few chapters, there are a number of different techniques that psychologists use to gather data, ranging from experiments to case studies and diary methods. Sometimes we use these as idiographic techniques, which means, as we saw in the last chapter, that their focus is on describing individuality – the distinctive characteristics of one person or one particular group. More often, though, psychological research is nomothetic – that is, it is trying to look at what groups of people have in common, in the hope that this will allow us to identify general principles, or laws, about human behaviour. In that type of research, it is vitally important that the group of people who are being studied are reasonably typical of other people too. And that brings us into the extremely important area of sampling.


Sampling

Sampling is the process of collecting the set of research participants who will provide the data for a psychological research project. You might wonder why we refer to such a collection of people as a sample, rather than as a 'set', or 'group', or any other such word. But there is

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Doing Psychological Research: Gathering and Analysing Data
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Figures ix
  • List of Tables xi
  • List of Worked Examples xiii
  • List of Formulae xiv
  • Introduction xv
  • Acknowledgements xix
  • 1: Approaches to Psychological Research 1
  • Part I - Gathering Data 15
  • 2: Gathering Data for Psychological Research 17
  • 3: Experiments 35
  • 4: Observational Studies 55
  • 5: questionnaire Studies 70
  • 6: Psychometrics 91
  • 7: Interviews 113
  • 8: Case Studies and Ethnography 131
  • 9: Analysing Documents 147
  • Part II - Making Sense of Data 165
  • 10: Introducing Qualitative Analysis 167
  • 11: Grounded Approaches to Qualitative Research 183
  • 12: Conversations, Discourse and Images 201
  • 13: Protocol Analysis and Other Techniques 220
  • 14: Introducing Quantitative Analysis 239
  • 15: Numbers as Descriptive Statistics 257
  • 16: Descriptive Statistics in Visual Images 278
  • 17: Two-Sample Tests 303
  • 18: Correlation and Regression 331
  • 19: Analysis of Variance 349
  • Glossary 366
  • Statistical Tables 379
  • References 387
  • Index 392
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