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Advantages and Disadvantages of the six major research methods in the field of I/O psychology

Updated on May 4, 2014

Research Methods of I/O Psychology

Industrial- Organizational Psychology utilizes several forms of research methods as a means of fully understanding and solving problems within the organization. The six major methods discussed by Dr. Paul M. Muchinsky in prescribed text are:

  • Laboratory experiment
  • Quasi-experiment
  • Questionnaire
  • Observation
  • Meta-analysis
  • Qualitative

Each of the before mentioned methods has their own advantages and disadvantages which make them suitable for specific circumstances and inappropriate for others. It is very important for an I/O psychologist to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each type of research method, below the writer will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each of the research methods mentioned in the text.

“Laboratory experiment is a type of research method in which the investigator manipulates independent variables and assigns subjects to experimental and control condition.”( Muchinsky 29) Advantages of Laboratory experiments

  • More control of variables as such making it easier to comment on cause and effect.
  • Reasonably easy to replicate
  • Provide an opportunity to use complex equipment to gather data
  • Can be cheaper and less time consuming than other methods


  • Participants may alter behavior as they are aware of experiment
  • Sometimes yields biased results
  • Difficult to generalize to other situations due to the fact that an artificial environment was used.

Quasi- experiments are “methods for conducting studies in field situations where the researcher may be able to manipulate some independent variables.”(Muchinsky 30) Quasi-experiments are often used to conduct social research. One of its greatest advantages is that when taking into account the planning and management of the complex task of carrying out a quasi-experiment it is relatively easy to conduct. Another benefit of a Quasi-experimental research is that it provides an easy comparison between target groups. Because the experimental set is prescribed the treatment and the control group does not receive treatment, makes it easy to compare the performance of the two groups in an effort to distinguish if there were any changes in behavior after the treatment was administered. This type of scenario provides a great advantage because it aids the researcher in making inferences as it relates to the possible existence in the relationship of cause and effect of the treatment. The disadvantages of quasi-experimental research arise in the initial stages of the experiment because the groups chosen may not be equivalent. The potential for non-equivalent groups is considerably increased when a sampling method is used in place of random sampling. Since quasi-experimental researchers do not utilize random sampling to create their experimental or control groups, the possibility of having a non-equivalent group is high. Another disadvantage is directly linked to the non-equivalent groups is that it creates the possibility for low internal validity. If there is a low internal validity then the researcher will find it difficult to accurately determine that the treatment directly affected the change.

Questionnaires are “a type of research method in which subjects respond to written questions posed by the investigator.”(Muchinsky 31) like all other researches there are several advantages and dis advantages related to this form of research, below is a list of the advantages and disadvantages:


  • The possibility for inaccurate data collection because questionnaires are used after an event and the target group may forget to state information pertinent to the research.
  • Because questions are standardized, there is a possibility of misinterpretation by various participants.
  • Time consuming because open ended questions tend to generate a great deal of data, which will lead to an extensive period of processing and analyzing of said data.
  • A possibility of respondents providing superficial answers because questionnaires may be too long.


  • Questionnaires are more objective because of the standardized manner in which the responses are gathered.
  • Can utilize a large target group.
  • Easy to collect data.

Observation is a “type if research method in which the investigator monitors subjects for the purpose of understanding their behavior and culture.”(Muchinsky 33) Observational research main advantage is that it provides undeviating contact with the social occurrences under investigation; it gives the researcher an opportunity to collect data from the target group by witnessing their behavior in real time as the event occurs. Another benefit of observational research is that it is appropriate in an extensive variety of settings, because it is applicable to various settings it creates diversity and flexibility which are very beneficial to any research. In order to compile data in an observational research there must be some sort of recording of the subjects under investigation and because the behavioral pattern being observed is transient a recording will provide a record of this behavior that can be analyzed or compared at a later period.

As it relates to the disadvantages of observational research one must understand that it might not be practical at all times to carry out such a research because it is very time consuming and resource demanding. Another such disadvantage can be related to validity and reliability, the unreliableness or questionable validity may come from observer’s bias. Since the views of the observer can be determined to be subjective it begs the question of how valid or reliable the research really is. Observer effect presents another disadvantage, since the subjects being observed may alter their behavior in the presence of an observer or researcher.

“Meta-analysis is a statistical procedure designed to combine the results of many individual independently conducted empirical studies into a single result or outcome.” (Muchinsky 35)


  • Provides better statistical control
  • Provides assenting data analysis
  • Meta-analysis is considered to be a resource that is based completely on evidential data collection.


  • Problematic and time consuming to categorize suitable studies
  • Since it entails the combination of results of several studies the possibility may arise where some studies may be able to offer satisfactory data to be used in the analysis.
  • Entails comprehensive statistical understanding and technical personnel to carry out research
  • The diverse nature of the study populations may inhibit the research process.

Qualitative research is “a class of research method in which the investigator takes an active role in interacting with the subjects he or she wishes to study.”(Muchinsky 36) Careful analysis of qualitative research methods reveals that it provides a complex and detailed understanding of the target group because the investigator ventures to reveal more about the experience of those who are participating in the study. Its strength lies in its ability to provide answers as to why certain aspects are the way they are and not just give an account of the behavior. This type of research provides an opportunity for individuals within the study to be open because of the relatively small focus group; this also aids in stimulating participant’s individual experiences and gives the investigator an opportunity to fully understand why people may act in certain ways and why their feelings may be influenced by certain actions.

Looking at the disadvantages of qualitative research one will notice that because fewer participants are used it is more difficult to generalize the findings. It also more difficult to provide a systematic comparison as it relates to other groups. The success of this type of research also depends largely on the skills and knowledge of the investigator.

Works Cited 11 2011. 11 01 2014.

Milne, John. "" 25 03 1999. LTDI. 11 01 2014.

Muchinsky, Paul M. Psychology Applied to Work Tenth Edition. Summerfield NC: Hypergraphic Press, 2012.


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