Psychologists have been concerned with understanding the behavior and experiences of humans for many centuries. Study on human and non-human behavior has been conducted, in order to reflect the cause of human deeds, reactions, and decisions. During these studies, psychologist applies three main research methods; they include observational, experimental, and correlational research methods (Craig 48).
Observational Method. In the observational research, the human behavior is observed and recorded, and usually there is no intentional manipulation of the variables. Observational technique, therefore, provides an alternative to strictly controlled research methods, such as a laboratory experiment. Observational method puts more emphasis on the way people and animals behave in specific situations. In addition, observational researches, as a rule, are carried out in a natural setting, such as a school, pub, or canteen (Craig 78). This method makes no attempt to influence the behavior pattern being studied in any way. Therefore, this method is applicable in situations where any other research method would be either unethical or inappropriate. For instance, when studying the psychology of a funeral or a wedding, only observational method can be used.
Correlational Method. The term ‘correlational’ is usually used to mention a statistical method that measures the connection between two variables. For instance, the range to which high value of a variable are connected with high values of another variable, or the scope of association between high values of one variable and low values of another one. The main component of correlational method is a correlation measurement; it is a statistic data that have a value on a scale between +1 and -1. Correlation strength increases as the calculated correlation coefficient moves away from zero to +1, or -1. Correlational study is also applied at an early stage of research on a particular topic. It is usually applied when it is vital to isolate relationships out of a web of complex variables (Selltiz 78).
Experimental Method. In this research method, the investigator manipulates one variable while measuring the other variable. It means that, when conducting the experiment, the psychologist intervenes directly in the condition being studied through manipulation of one variable. Some of these variables include age, response times, IQ scores, weight, or reading rates. The major component of this technique is the ability of the investigator to control the independent variable, in order to investigate the change in the second variable. In addition, as a ruler, the participants are allocated to the experimental conditions randomly. Experimental method is usually regarded as the most powerful research method applied by psychologists, because of its potential to investigate the causes of the events, and, hence, identify the cause-effect-relationships (Rooney 54).
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Role of Scientific Methods in Psychological Research. In all sciences, including psychology, it is essential to use scientific technique in gathering research data. The scientific method is not the only solutions to the problem at hand, but it is also used in construction of scientific theories. It is imperative for psychologists to conduct research to adhere standard scientific methods during the investigation and evaluation of the clients. Application of scientific technique in a research helps the researcher avoid the possibilities of producing invalid results. Invalid result may cause critical problems, such as development of substandard treatment procedures and therapies. The scientific methods are also essential since they uncover the most devious and deceitful scientific activities, which include direct and deliberate manipulation and falsification of data, in order to advance a point of view and justify the expense of the client. Failure for a psychologist to apply the right scientific method in the research will essentially render the experimentation result useless (Selltiz 156).
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