A psychologist is interested in learning more about how children interact with each other during the school day. The psychologist is particularly interested in discovering the ways in which children behave when they do not think they are being watched. What research method would be best used to conduct this type of research, and why? What ethical concerns might be an issue in this type of research? ) Observational research method would be suitable because it includes case studies, ethnographic studies, ethological studies, etc. The primary characteristic of each of these types of studies is that phenomena are being observed and recorded. Often times, the studies are qualitative in nature. For example, a psychological case study would entail extensive notes based on observations of and interviews with the client. A detailed report with analysis would be written and reported constituting the study of this individual case. For example, an ethological study interaction of children as they play with each other may include measures of behavior durations i.e. the amount of time the children are engaged in a specified behavior. This measure of time would be quantitative. Observational research can be problematic if not conducted well. Clearly, there are many problems with internal validity. One can describe the individual(s) being observed but one cannot make any sort of causative conclusions based on the observations. Additionally, construct validity can be impacted by lack of background work before the observations or study, observer and experimenter biases or expectencies, etc. In developmental psychology, this form of research is often early work in the exploration of a developmental topic. In this research approach, behaviors are counted, correct answers or errors are counted, and other types of measures are recorded in terms of quantity. Observational research involves both experimental and non-experimental research. Ethical issues Observational research focus on protecting individuals that receive an intervention. For example, an intervention may involve training participants in group communication where a great deal of self-disclosure is required. Self-disclosure is a technique whereby people are encouraged to discuss their feelings, attitudes, and experiences (some of which may be quite personal). Does there searcher have the right to use such a treatment? Dealing with this question is a personal decision on the part of the researcher.
1. As a researcher, I am interested in learning whether or not there is a connection between sleep and test scores. I want to know if an increase in sleep improves test scores, for example. What type of research method would I use, and why? What ethical concerns might present an issue when conducting this type of research? True Experiments: The true experiment is often thought of as a laboratory study. However, this is not always the case. A true experiment is defined as an experiment conducted where an effort is made to impose control over all other variables except the one under study. It is often easier to impose this sort of control in a laboratory setting. True experiments have often been erroneously identified as laboratory studies. To understand the nature of the experiment, we must first define a few terms: Experimental or treatment group – this is the group that receives the experimental treatment i.e. the group that we use to examine the relationship between sleep and improvement of test scores, manipulation, or is different from the control group on the variable under study. Control group – this group is used to produce comparisons. The treatment of interest is deliberately withheld or manipulated to provide a baseline performance with which to compare the experimental or treatment group’s performance. Independent variable – this is the variable that the experimenter/researcher manipulates in a study. It can be any aspect of the environment that is empirically investigated for the purpose of examining its influence on the dependent variable which is the variable that is measured in a study. The experimenter does not control this variable. A major ethical concern would be double blind where by neither the subject nor the experimenter knows whether the subject is in the treatment of the control condition.
If I want to research whether or not a new medication has an effect on depression, and I want to compare the medication against a placebo, what research method might I use, and why? What ethical concerns might be an issue in this type of research? In the case of research to establish whether or not a new medication has an effect on depression Correlational research can be used as a good research method. In general, correlational research examines the co-variation of two or more variables. Correlational research can be accomplished by a variety of techniques which include the collection of empirical data. Often times, correlational research is considered a type of observational research as nothing is manipulated by the experimenter or individual conducting the research. The early studies on cigarette smoking did not manipulate how many cigarettes were smoked. The researcher only collected the data on the two variables. Nothing was controlled by the researchers and therefore, no cause and effect statements were made out. Further experimental research clearly demonstrated the negative effects of cigarette smoking. Correlational research is not causal research. In other words, we cannot make statements concerning cause and effect on the basis of this type of research. There are two major reasons why we cannot make cause and effect statements. First, we don’t know the direction of the cause. Second, a third variable may be involved of which we are not aware. An example may help clarify these points. In major clinical depressions, the neurotransmitters serotonin or norepinephrine has been found to be depleted (Coppen, 1967; Schildkraut & Kety, 1967). In other words, low levels of these two neurotransmitters have been found to be associated with increased levels of clinical depression. However, while we know that the two variables covary – a relationship exists – we do not know if a causal relationship exists. Thus, it is unclear whether depletion in serotonin/norepinephrine cause depression or whether depression causes depletion is neurotransmitter levels. This demonstrates the first problem with correlational research; we don’t know the direction of the cause. Second, a third variable has been uncovered which may be affecting both of the variables under study. The number of receptors on the postsynaptic neuron has been found to be increased in depression. Thus, it is possible that the increased number of receptors on the postsynaptic neuron is actually responsible for the relationship between neurotransmitter levels and depression. As you can see from the discussion above, one cannot make a simple cause and effect statement concerning neurotransmitter levels and depression based on correlational research. To reiterate, it is inappropriate in correlational research to make statements concerning cause and effect. Correlational research is often conducted as exploratory or beginning research. Once variables have been identified and defined, experiments are conductable. Correlational research involves data that are recorded in narrative descriptions, not numbers. Researchers use correlational methods to observe and describe conditions rather than control them. A basic ethical principle for correlative researchers is this. Do not tamper with the natural setting or group under study.