Doing Psychological Research: Gathering and Analysing Data

By Nicky Hayes | Go to book overview

5
Questionnaire studies

Stages of questionnaire design

Administering questionnaires

Ethical issues of questionnaire research

Questionnaire studies are a valuable tool for the research psychologist. Although they don't permit a researcher to look at things in much depth, they do make it possible to collect information from very large numbers of people - far more than could reasonably be studied using experimental or observational research designs.

One of the most useful ways that questionnaire-type studies are applied in psychology is when a completely new area of research is being opened up. It is not at all uncommon for someone who is interested in a new area to begin by conducting a questionnaire study about it, and then to use the results of that study to generate hypotheses which can then be investigated by more in-depth research.

What do these threeterms mean?response biassampling techniqueambiguous questions

Questionnaires are also used when psychologists want to investigate how widespread a phenomenon is. For example, when a research team wanted to investigate just how common the experience of nightmares was, the obvious way to go about it was to conduct a questionnaire study, asking about sleepwalking, sleeptalking, nightmares, and other dream-related experiences. The questionnaire study allowed them to gain an idea of how widespread these experiences were, and what proportion of the population was likely to have them.

That doesn't mean, however, that questionnaires can be used to research every topic in psychology. Questionnaires are very vulnerable to response bias – to people adjusting their responses so as to give the 'right' sort of answer to the researcher. Because of that, they need to be carefully planned and designed. But if that is done properly, they can provide useful information - of certain types. Table 5.1 outlines some of the main types of information which can be gained from questionnaires.

Questionnaires can collect factual information, such as information about people's habits, their depth of knowledge on particular issues, or immediate sources of stress. They can also be used to tell us about past behaviour: patterns of domestic behaviour, educational or work

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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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