Psychology – Qualitative Research Methodology

– Numbers
– Use quantitative methods to investigate area of study where it is possible to test hypothesis under rigorous conditions.
– Use to establish cause and effect.
– Experiments that take place in the laboratory and or field.
– Words and test that help you find
– Trends – Interviews
– Patterns – Observations
– Topics – Case Studies
Qualitative Strengths
– In depth/rich information
– Open interpretation of data
– Useful for investigating complex and sensitive issues (coping with illness, sexuality etc.)
– High validity because the people in the studies are usually in their own environment.
– Helps solve problems
– Creates new ideas and theories to explain and overcome problems.
Qualitative Limitations
– Subjective (due to many interpretations)
– Time consuming and generates a huge amount of data.
– With data analysis, there is no clear strategy for analysis because of the amount of data.
Qualitative Studies Generalized to a Lesser Extent…
– External validity issues are in play for qualitative research findings, one can not generalize. (Phineas Gage)
– Case studies and interviews are harder to generalize (subjective, not supporting theory)
– In particular, case studies are rare and for their own sake, so they are not intended to generalize. (Genie because she is a rare child).
Qualitative Studies Generalized to a Greater Extent…
– Observations: Analyze data to generalize (Bandora)
– Interviews: Focus groups (6-10 people)
– Case Studies: HM/Clive Wearing (Biology or Anatomy)
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Qualitative Ethical Considerations
1) Informed consent from participants
2) Participants have the right to withdrawal.
3) Participants have a right to debriefing.
4) No fabricating of data is allowed.
5) Approval of study from research company
6) Names are kept anonymous/results are confidential.
Stratified Sampling
– Dividing populations you are studying into subgroups. (Characteristics are taken into account such as age, ethnic background, religion, sex, IQ scores etc.)
– Collect info from these subgroups ie.Bouchard Minnesota Twin Study
– STRENGTHS: Fairly represent population
– LIMITATIONS: Time consuming and vey specific
Purposive Sampling
– Researcher selects particular groups of people that are chosen off the basis of the…
– Aim of the study
– Existing knowledge in the field
– Particular characteristics (variables) that might influence an individuals contribution to explore the research topic.

– STRENGTHS: Rich data b/c the participants fits the aim of the study, might be only option left if the desired population for the study is rare or difficult to locate.
– LIMITATIONS: Biased b/c it pertains only to a specific group of people.

Snowball Sampling
– A participant is chosen to take part in a study, and that same participant then recommends another participant that they believe is right for the study.
– STRENGTHS: Very efficient time and money wise.
– LIMITATIONS: Confidentiality is broken (ethical consideration) and the study is biased.
Convenience (Opportunity) Sampling
– Finding participants who are not busy at the time you are conducting experiment.
– STRENGTHS: Convenient and time efficient
– LIMITATIONS: Participants may be nothing like a representative sample (Random Sample).
Experimenter Expectancies
-Various ways in which researchers affect the experiment such as a personal characteristic; mis-recording data etc. and a change in the participants response would be due to behavior of the experimenter rather then the IV.
Experimenter Effects
1) A research assistant unintentionally gives participants information about an experimental procedure that leads them to act differently from how they would normally act.
2) Subtle differences in facial expressions (such as smiling to one group but not the other) can change the expectations of the participants.
3) Unconsciously give voice or other cues that give the participant confidence, and which may help them do well on the test.
Participant Expectancies
– Refers to the participant’s behavioral response being influenced by their EXPECTATIONS of how they should behave.
– HAWTHORNE EFFECT: The effect on participants of simply being the focus of the investigation. The Participants are aware of being part of an experimental group and performance may improve for that reason.
Demand Characteristics
– Refers to the fact that most participants do the best they can to do what they perceive to be the demands of the experiment. Because fo this, they are over co-operative, and this can mean that a researcher ends up with data that lack ecological validity.
– Trustworthiness of a study and how believable the research is.
– Have to get rid of researcher bias to reach credibility.
– Breadth ( in detail but more), and depth
– Researcher gives full account of research to eliminate bias.
– Triangulation used to increase credibility and trustworthiness (Rolfe 2006)
– Use triangulation to gain credibility use more then one method for research.
– Research findings may be all different, making it not credible. Multitasking is hard.
– May have a design flaw.
– Ex. HM, 50 years of research and many researchers. Researchers given very depth descriptions.
– The application and combination of several different research methodologies in the study of the same phenomenon
Data Triangulation
– Involves conduction research at different times, in different locations, and using different groups.
Observer Triangulation
– When more than one observer is used in a study.
Methodological Triangulation
– Involves the use of two or more qualitative methods including observations, interviews, case studies, questionnaires and surveys.
Theory Triangulation
– When more then one perspective is used before coming to a conclusion.
Triangulation Strength
– Makes the data richer because you’re coming at the study in different ways.
Triangulation Limitation
– Time consuming, some methods and theories cannot be merged and no single truth can be received.
– Refers to the researcher’s need to constantly be aware of how and why they are conducting the research, and to recognize at what points their own beliefs and opinions about the topic under investigation might have influenced data collection or analysis.
– Organize an interview with a colleague and check research and data together.
Semi-Structured Interviews
– Allows interviewer the freedom to elaborate on the original response or to follow a line of inquiry introduced by the interviewee.
– STRENGTH: Rich data and in depth. Flexible.
– LIMITATION: Time consuming and hard to analyse.
Focus Group Interviews
– Involves a limited number of participants and is monitored by a moderater who has a point of discussion used to guide the group.
– 6-10 People (smaller = not enough data) (bigger = difficult for participants.
– STRENGTHS: Encourages openness and allows people to talk about complex issues. Relatively quick and convenient. High ecological validity.
– LIMITATIONS: Influenced by people around you which changes answers. Not apporpriate for all research questions ie. Sensitive matters.
Narrative Interviews
– The interviewer asks the questions and the participant answers in a way so the interviewer gets a lot of info.
– STRENGTH: Captures unaltered version of reality.
– LIMITATION: Participant may not feel speaking in this manner and this may offer less data.
Sampling Method
– ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS: Some sensitive topics so you can’t use certain topics for sampling.
– PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS: Larger sample= structure. How to obtain/how large.
Traditional Transcription
– Words only
– PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS: Quicker then postmodern/doesn’t take financial expressions into account.
– Before: Consent
– During: Participant right to withdrawal and confidentiality
-Can hear the recording and make alterations to the data.
Post-Modern Transcription
– Pitch, speed, pauses, facial expressions etc.
– PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS: Allows fuel interview to be regarded time consuming.
Inductive Content Analysis
– Used to merge themes from data. To do this, they first take the transcripts of each interview and identify raw themes within it. Things are usually simple statements made by the participants.
Participant Observations
– When a researcher wants to gain more info on the participant and to obtain richer data.
– Researchers become a part of participant group being observed, which requires deception.
– Unstructured interviews
– STRENGTHS: Allows insight into context, relationships and behavior. Provides detailed in-depth knowledge of topic.
– LIMITATIONS: Time consuming/demanding. Difficult to record data promptly and objectively. (Memory/discipline, delicate balance between involvement and detachment)
Non-Participant Observations
– When a researcher can’t become part of the participant group (ie. children) so they observe outside of the participant group.
– Sometimes participants do not even know they are being observed.
– Hypothesis, devising behavioral categories that are going to be observed.
– STRENGTHS: Ecological Validity (akes place in natural environment). Can be used to collect data in cases where it would be impossible/unethical to do so. (Alzheimer’s Disease)
– LIMITATIONS: Participant and researcher expectancies. Sometimes deceiving involved.
Overt Observations
– Participants know they are being observed and may be able to see the observer.
– STRENGTHS: Researcher remains objective because he can see the entire picture.
– LIMITATIONS: Demand characteristics.
Covert Observations
– Participants do not know they are being observed.
– Researcher is hidden
– STRENGTHS: Participants act more naturally.
– LIMITATIONS: Requires deception. Researcher not involved with participants so they are not in the same environment and would not have the same stimuli so the researcher has difficulty interpreting participant’s behavior.
Naturalistic Observations
– Occurs in natural environment.
– STRENGTHS: Ecological validity
– LIMITATIONS: Demand characteristics
Controlled Observations
– Occurs in artificial environment.
– STRENGTHS: Less demand characteristics.
– LIMITATIONS: Not very generalizable
Audience Effect
– The change in behavior of participants because they know they are being observed.
– ETHICAL FACTORS (carrying out): Be subtle
Hawthorne Effect
– Participants try to perform in a certain way that they think meets the expectations of their researchers.
– ETHICAL + PRACTICAL (carrying out and setting up): Slight deception about the study. Data would be invalid if participant’s change in results effects data.
– Telling participants the aim, results and interpretation of data.
– ETHICAL + PRACTICAL FACTORS (carrying out and setting up): Wait until after the study to reveal the aim, results and interpretation of data.
– ETHICAL (carrying out): Be able to justify deceit in study.
How to Analyze Observational Data
Step #1: Decide what type of data it is.
Step #2: Look for themes in the data in order to form manageable chunks for data.
Step #3: Present data in a diagram (ie. Pie graphs, charts).
Step #4: Throughout the analysis, keep nots to explain how it was done for credibility notes.
Step #5: Use subordinate to reconstruct overall study including what was observed, the themes identified, the notes made, and the interpretations.
Case Study
– An in depth descriptive study of behavior of an individual, group, an organization or event.
Sub-groups of a Case Study
– Person
– Group
– Location
– Organization
– Event
Case Study Use
– To test current theories
– To make existing studies better.
– To develop new theories.
– To test usual assumptions.
Case Study Main Characteristics
– DESCRIPTIVE METHOD: Quantitative data that emphasizes the verbal descriptions of behavior.
– NARROWLY FOCUSED: Describes only a single individual, however you can also (rarely done) on groups.
– HIGHLY DETAILED: The descriptions are very detailed.
– COMBINES OBJECTIVE AND SUBJECTIVE DATA: Info collected can represent any combination of objective and subjective data.
– PROCESS ORIENTED: Have researchers go through the nature of process that occurs overtime.
Case Study Data Collection Techniques
– Direct observation of behavior.
– Interviews
– Psychological testing (e.g. IQ, memory, personality etc.)
– Examination of past records (e.g. Medical, criminal)
Strengths of Case Study
– Stimulating new research
– Contradicting established theories
– Giving new insight into phenomena or experience
– Permitting investigation of otherwise inaccessible situations.
Limitations of Case Study
– Replication not possible
– Researcher bias
– Memory distortions
– Not possible to replicate findings
Case Studies Generalizable – Lesser Extent
– Data from a case study is not necessarily generalizable, nor would it be desirable to do so.
– INTRINSIC CASE STUDY: Studied for their own sake, because they are interesting in themselves and there is no intention to generalize the findings.
Case Studies Generalizable – Greater Extent
– Incorrect to suggest generalizing from an individual case study is not possible since the general is always present in particular.
– It is required to use generalization when the case studies reveal similar characteristics (HM and Clive Wearing).
– EXTRINSIC CASE STUDY: May be chosen to create theories and for their representativeness so the findings may be generalized to similar situations.