Research and Development

Psychology 200
How Psychologists do research
the key ideas



Research is more procedures with attitudes then actual procedures, more apparatus and apparel

The “ Hunch” could launch an investigation

More than not it’s a theory  (which is an organized system of assumptions and principles that’s purpose is to explain certain phenomena and how they are related.

A scientific theory is NOT just someone's personal opinion, However has been accepted by the scientific community and are accounted by many empirical findings.

Hypothesis – A statement that attempts to describe or explain a given behavior.

EXAMPLE:  “Misery Loves Company”

Different Types of Studies


  • Questionnaires/interviews gathering information by directly asking subjects about their experiences and attitudes
  • Way to obtain info by asking many individuals either person to person, by telephone , or by mail to answer a fixed set of questions to subjects.
  • EX. The Census
  • Other examples??
  • Disadvantages
  • Very different results depending on how questions are worded
  • Ex: Would you say industry contributes more or less to air pollution than traffic?
  • Would you say that traffic contributes more or less to air pollution than industry?
  • Advantages
  • Quickly and efficiently collects information on behaviors. Beliefs, experiences, and attitudes from a large sample of people and can compare answers from various ethnics, age, socioeconomic and cultural groups.

Case Study

  • Detailed description of a particular individual based on careful observation or on formal psychological testing.
  • Include testimonials , which support a particular viewpoint based on detailed observations of a persons own experience.

Personal Beliefs

  • Biased perceptions of strong beliefs

Self Fulfilling Prophecy

- Having a strong belief or making a statement ( prophecy) about a future behavior , then acting ( unknowingly) to carry out the behavior.

Case study’s can include

 -  Childhood experiences

 -  Dreams

 -  Fantasies

 -  Experiences

 -  Relationships.. Etc…

Most commonly done by Psychological Clinicians


  • Such detailed information about a particular person may not apply to ALL persons.
  • May be misinterpreted if the observer has preconceived notions of what to look for.


  • Allows greater understanding of a particular person’s life.


  • - Method for identifying cause and effect relationships by following a set of rules and guidelines that minimize the possibility of error, bias, and chance occurrences


  • Information obtained in an experimental situation may not apply to other situations.


  • Has the greatest potential for identifying cause- and effect relationships with less error, and bias than either surveys or case studies

Other  types of studies

Observational Studies

  • Researcher observes , measures, and records behavior taking care not to instruct or interfere with persons or animals being observed
  • Usually involves MANY participants ( AKA subjects)
  • Usually used as the  FIRST step in a program of research

 Naturalistic Observation

  • How people /animals react in their normal social environments

Laboratory Observation

-Psychologists have more control , better “ scientific “ equipment

Psychological Tests

  • Assessment instruments, used for measuring and evaluating personality traits , emotional states, aptitude, interest , abilities and values
  • Typically uses tests requiring subjects to answer a series of written or oral questions

Objective Tests

  • Measures beliefs, feelings and behaviors, subject is aware of answers

Projective Tests

  • Measures the unconscious feelings /motivations



  • Produces the same results from one time and place to the next

    Example : 2+2 =4

    Example:  Work = Payment


  • Must measure what it sets out to measure

    Example: Supersize me



  • Association or relationship in the occurrence of 2 or more events

Correlation coefficient

Number that indicates the strength of a relationship between 2 or more events: the closer the number is to  -1.00 or +1.00 the greater the  strength of the relationship

Types of Correlations

Positive Correlations

  • High values of one variable are associated either high variables

 Example : I Q Scores and Grades

Negative Correlation

  • High values are correlated with low values of the other

 Example: Income and Dental disease

Coefficient of Correlation

  • Statistical number used to express a correlation

Important  information


  • Some intervention such as taking a pill, an injection, or undergoing an operation that resembles medical therapy but in fact has no medical effects

Placebo Effect

  • Change in the patients illness that is attributed to an imagined treatment than a medical treatment.

Ex: Chicken soup when your mom gave it to you as a child vs. when you make it by yourself when feeling ill.

7 rules for Conducting an experiment


  • Questions of 1 or more that change into an hypothesis


  • Identify a treatment that will be administered to the subjects . This is known as the Independent Variable or IV
  • After choosing a treatment the researcher then identifies the behaviors of the subjects call the Dependent Variable or DV
  • The DV is called this because it is dependent of the treatment (IV). This can include a wide range of behaviors such as observational response, self reports of cognitive process, or recordings of physiological responses from the body or brain.

Independent Variables

  • Aspect of an experimental situation manipulated or varied by the researcher

Depended Variable

  • Reaction or behavior of the subject /researcher

Based on this this what is the IV ( Independent Variable) and the DV ( Dependent Variable), based upon this hypotheses

Hypothesis: Nicotine impairs driving ability.

What is the IV??

IV : The Smoking and Placeboes , Why? They can be controlled and manipulated by the researcher. TREATMENT!

What is the DV??

DV: The Number of Collisions , Why? These are the outcomes ( or reactions of the subjects being researched.  BEHAVIOR!!

7 rules of conducting research


- Single Blind Study

  • Subject doesn’t know if they are the control group or the experimental group

Double Blind Study

  • Same as above yet both the experimenter as well as the subject don’t know which is the control and which is not.


  • Manipulation of treatment is done so the experimental group receives a different treatment than the control.
  • Allows researchers to measure how the IV ( treatment) affected the DV (behaviors)


  • Statistical procedures
  • Used to determine whether differences observed by the behaviors ( ???) are due to the treatment ( ???) or to the error or chance occurrences


  • APA ( American Psychological Association) published a code of ethics and conduct for psychologists to follow when doing research, counseling, teaching, and related activities
  • Psychologists must also submit the details of their research , programs, especially those with the potential for causing psychological or physical harm.

Human Studies

Human Studies

  • Informal consent needed ( participant must know enough about study to make an intelligent decision about participation)
  • Experimenters must also protect participants from physical and mental harm


  • Researchers do not want to create specific expectations that may bias how potential participants will behave.
  • If chosen researchers must justify the deceptive techniques by the scientific educational or applied value of the study and can use this deception only if no other reasonable way to test the hypothesis is available.
  • Question????   Is it ok to mislead a participant to get  results in a study?????
  • Thoughts!!!!
  • When would it be ok if answer was yes?      
  • Why?
  • Why if answer is no?
  • Why?


Animal  Studies

  • 7- 8 % of psychological research involves animal use
  • 90 % use rats, mice, and birds
  • 10% use monkeys, cats, and dogs
  • Of the millions of animals used  for  research only a few cases have been confirmed as abusive
  • Scientists know the value of animal research and know that proper care and treatment is vital to their research.
  • Adrian Morrison ( Director of the National Institute of Mental Health’s Program for Animal Research Issue) stated,
  • “ Because I do experimental surgery, I go through a soul- searching every couple of months, asking myself whether I really want to continue working on cats. The answer is always YES because I know that there is no other way for medication to progress but through animal experimentation and that basic research ultimately leads to unforeseen benefits” ( 1993).

Who checks on Animal Research

U.S Department of Agriculture, among communities with authority to ensure proper housing and procedures that might cause pain or distress check on animal research labs routinely to ensure the proper care for all animal subjects.

Animal Studies the basic usage


  • Basic Research
  • Produce application
  • Cannot be used with Humans
  • Clarify theoretical questions
  • Improve human welfare