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Psychology.....a Science?

Updated on March 10, 2020

Research Methodology in Psychology

Research Methodology

Psychology expands as science with research, variable, experiments, hypothesis, and measurements. Discussion of psychology as a science includes explanation of scientific method, qualitative, and quantitative data. The author compares and explains the differences between types of data in establishment of psychology in the scientific field through the use of scientific method. Scientific theory construction and testing further explains research methodology.

Science of Psychology

Science occurs within social-cultural, historical, and moral settings. Psychological science is no different also occurring in those settings. Throughout history psychology’s empirical approach through observation and experimentation as a means for answering questions aided in the development of psychology as a field. Computers influenced a shift in the dominating theme in psychological inquiry to cognitive psychology from behaviorism. Through the scientific method, psychological science affects humans on various levels. Psychologists have the ability to impact the individual, the family, and society by constructing a thoroughly researched and designed foundation (Shaughnessy, Zechmeister, & Zechmeister, 2009).

Scientific Method

Prediction, description, application, and explanation are goals of scientific method by use of qualitative and quantitative studies to define behavior. In psychology an empirical approach by using direct observation and experimentation defines scientific method. Psychology’s attitude toward the scientific method is skeptical and critical. Observations are accomplished through systematic and controlled methods, distinguishing psychology from nonscientific procedures, usually in an experiment. By manipulation of the factors psychologists observe the effects on behavior. The controlled portion of the experiment, used to assess behavior, is the independent variable. The independent variable consists of two levels, absence and presence of the treatment. Presentation of the treatment is referred to as the experimental condition, while the other condition is referred to as the control condition because treatment has not been introduced. When the experiment is completed the results are reported as objectively and unbiased as possible and observable by more than one person. Constructs and accurate instruments improve this process. The test must be valid and reliable with testable hypotheses originating in theory (Shaughnessy, et al 2009).

Qualitative and Quantitative Data

Both qualitative and quantitative studies aid in describing behavior together they describe behavior. Researchers attempt to summarize and develop theories based on observations. With the use of qualitative analysis, researchers identify themes, group information together, categorize information, and record observations. Narrative records and checklists describe frequency and type of behavior. Quantitative data measure duration, frequency, the results are recorded and measured using ordinal, nominal, ratio, or interval measures are described via statistics. Using the measurements, correlation coefficient helps determine reliability (Shaughnessy, et al 2009).

Theory Construction and Testing

At the core of psychology’s scientific approach is testing and theory construction. Theories explain and describe all aspects of eventsincluding relationships and event occurrence. Empirical understanding and testable hypotheses are the functions of theories. Through variables researchers are able to explain connections of independent and dependent variables (Shaughnessy, et al 2009). Item response theory, (ITR) within the past 50years has replaced classical test theory (CTT) in test development. ITR models use estimates of psychometric properties within test questioning to represent individuals taking the test and psychometric properties. In comparison the CTT’s goal is score as opposed to responses (Embretson, 2010).

Conclusion

In psychology the scientific method is defined by taking an empirical approach by using direct observation and experimentation. In science as well as psychology occurs in historical, socio-cultural and moral settings. By using the scientific method humans are affected within family, society, personal levels. Prediction, description, application, and explanation are goals of scientific method by use of qualitative and quantitative studies to define behavior. Both qualitative and quantitative studies aid in describing behavior together they describe behavior. Theories explain and describe all aspects of events including relationships and event occurrences. Empirical understanding and testable hypotheses are the functions of theories. Through variables researchers are able to explain connections of independent and dependent variables.

References

Shaughnessy, J. J., Zechmeister, E. B., & Zechmeister, J. S. (2009). Research methods in psychology (8th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.

Embretson, S. (2010). Measuring psychological constructs with model-based approaches: An introduction. In S. E. Embretson, S. E. Embretson (Eds.) , Measuring psychological constructs: Advances in model-based approaches (pp. 1-7). American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/12074-001

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