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Methodologies for Psychology Research

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Data Analysis
Wordcount: 1920 words Published: 23rd Mar 2021

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This report will deliberate and evaluate the methodology and moral issues related with psychological research.


This is the body of procedures, practice and rule used by those who work in a discipline or engage in an inquiry set of work methods.  It is also the process behind the methods of collecting date. Psychologists use different types of methods to conduct research such as: surveys, case studies, questionnaires, interviews, observations and lab experiments. These are the examples of descriptive or correlational research methods. By using this method the psychologist can describe different events, experiences or behaviour. They all have advantages and disadvantages. 


A questionnaire is a research instrument that consists of series of questions for a purpose of gathering information from the percipients. Questionnaires can be carried out face to face, by computer, post, by phone or it can be thought of as a kind of written interview. Questionnaires are a quick, cheap and effective way of obtaining large amounts of information from a large number of people. The data is not time consuming because the researcher would not need to be present when the questionnaires were completed. In addition, questionnaires can be an effective way of measuring attitudes, behaviour, preferences and opinions more cheaply and quickly than other methods (Ppc.sas.upenn.edu, 2018).

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One of the strengths of questionnaires is that they are economical.  This means they can provide large amounts of research data for a very low cost and are less time consuming. In addition, the questions are standardized because all the participants are asked exactly same questions in the same way and it can be replicated easily to check the reliability. However, one of the potential weaknesses in the questionnaire is that the participants may lie due to social desirability. Most of the participants want to present a positive image of themselves and they may bend the truth to look good.



Interview is a different type of research method as they involve social interaction. Unlike questionnaires, the researchers need to be trained to interview people which may cost money. The researchers can ask different types of questions which can produce different types of data. For example, open questions allow people to express what they think in their own words and closed questions provide people with a fixed set of responses. Most of the times researcher use an interview schedule to prepare and to design questions exactly as worded.  This means the same questions are asked to each interviewee in the same way and it will be recorded by the researcher. However, the interviewer must ensure that they take special care when they are interviewing vulnerable group so as not to put suggestions into their minds which might influence the way they respond.

One of the strengths of interviews is that they are easy to replicate as a fixed set of questions are used which makes it easy to quantify.  This means it is easy to test for reliability.  Also, interviews are the best way to discuss sensitive issues because the participants are more likely to relax and give better responses to the questions. However, the potential weakness is the fact that new questions cannot be asked during interviews because the interviewer must follow the interview schedule.


Watching people do something is the obvious method of carrying out research in psychology. There are different types of observation methods which are natural observation, controlled observation and participant observation. Observation can also be either undisclosed which is where the researcher keeps their real identify a secret from the research subjects or discloses it when the participant knows they are being studied. In general, observations are relatively cheap to carry out because the researcher only needs a few resources. However, they can be often time consuming (McLeod, 2018).

A key strength of observation is the fact that the researcher can observe what the participant actually does or says, rather than what they say they do. Because sometimes people are not willing to write their true views on a questionnaire or tell a stranger what they really thinking.  Also, observation can be made in real life situations and it allows the researcher to assess the context. On the other hand, there are a number of weaknesses associated with observation such as it is time consuming.


This is a data collection tool used to gather information about individuals. This tool is commonly used in psychological research to collect self-reported data from participants. The survey might aim to obtain the opinion of the survey taker or it may focus on factual information about individuals. However, sometimes the research presents people with a scenario and then ask them how they may respond in that situation (Verywell Mind, 2018).

One of the big benefits of using surveys in psychological research is that they allow the researcher to gather a large quantity of data relatively quickly and cheaply and the data can be collected in person, computer or over the phone. However, one of the potential problems with doing a survey is that the answers that have been provided may not be how the participants actually feel.  Also, the social desirability can lead people to respond in a way that makes them look better than they really are.

Ethical issues

Ethics issues is a very important part of psychological research which play a major role in the conduction of psychological research. This refers to the correct rules of conduct necessary when carrying out a research. The researcher must have moral responsibility to protect the participants from any harm. In addition, the psychologists must remember that they have the duty to respect the dignity and rights of the participants. This means that they must work by certain rules of conduct. In Britain, the British psychological society are the ones that publish ethical guidelines for research and the purpose of this is to protect research participant’s reputation as well as the psychologists themselves (Yogi, 2018).

Informed Consent

The investigator must obtain the consent of the participant. This means it is not sufficient for the participant to just say yes. They also need to know what it is that they are agreeing to. Before the research begins, the psychologist must outline to the participants what the research is about and then ask their consent to take part. If the participant is over 18 they can give their permission to participate but if they are under 18, the consent has to come from their legal guardians to allow them to take part (McLeod, 2018).

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One of the many strengths of information consent is that it allows the participant to understand the risks and the benefits of taking part in the research. It also gives them the opportunity to ask any questions they may have. However, language barriers can be a big weakness. For example, the participant who signs the consent form may not understand what is stated on the consent form. So is the responsibility of the professional is to make sure the participant understands what they are signing. 

Protection of Participants

The researcher must make sure that those who are taking part in the research will not be caused any distress.  Also, the researcher must protect them from any physical or mental harm. This means that the participant must not be offended or exposed to any risk. In addition, the researcher must ensure that if vulnerable groups are to be used, they must receive special care (Sales, B.D. and Folkman, S.E., 2000).


The participant and the data gained must to be fully anonymous unless the participant gives their full consent. This means no one outside of the experiment should be able to identify the participants from the result. In addition, no name should be used in a research report (Lowman, R.L., 1998). The strength of confidentiality it help to build and develop a trust also it allow the free flow of information between the participant and the psychologist.

Withdrawal form

The participant should be able to leave the research any time if they feel uncomfortable.  Also, they should be allowed to withdraw their data. At the start of the study, they should be told by the researcher that they have the right to withdraw at any time. In addition, they should not be pressed to continue if they don’t want to. This is important because it prevents the participant from feeling embarrassed about their result (Siegel, M., 1979).





The researcher do not need to share all the details of the study in the beginning as that knowledge could impact the data collection and maybe the result. But after the experiment the researcher must inform the participant of the true nature of the study as part of debriefing. Also they should be able to discuss the findings with the participants and why they are part of the research and they must to be asked if they have any questions, and those questions must be answered with honestly (Study.com, 2018).


It is necessary for a psychologist to take ethical issues into account when carrying out a research because it his responsibility to protect the research participants from harm. Also they should follow the guideline to avoid disrespecting the participant dignity and right.


  • Ppc.sas.upenn.edu. (2018). Questionnaires for Researchers | Positive Psychology Center. [online] Available at: http://ppc.sas.upenn.edu/resources/questionnaires-researchers [Accessed 19 Jun. 2018].
  • McLeod, S. (2018). Observation Methods in Research | Simply Psychology. [online] Simplypsychology.org. Available at: https://www.simplypsychology.org/observation.html [Accessed 19 Jun. 2018].
  • Verywell Mind. (2018). How Are Surveys Used in Psychology to Collect Data?. [online] Available at: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a-survey-2795787 [Accessed 19 Jun. 2018].
  • Yogi, P. (2018). Ethical Issues in Psychology | Psych Yogi. [online] Psychyogi.org. Available at: http://psychyogi.org/ethical-issues-in-psychology/ [Accessed 20 Jun. 2018].
  • Lowman, R.L., 1998. The ethical practice of psychology in organizations.
  • Study.com. (2018). Debriefing in Psychology Research: Definition & Process – Video & Lesson Transcript | Study.com. [online] Available at: https://study.com/academy/lesson/debriefing-in-psychology-research-definition-process-quiz.html [Accessed 21 Jun. 2018].

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