Understanding Psychology

Chapter 2: Psychological Research Methods and Statistics

Chapter Overviews

Psychologists learn what they do not know by carefully and systematically collecting information. Chapter 2 discusses the different methods that psychologists use to study issues and explores some of the problems in conducting research.

Section 1 discusses how psychologists must first decide how to approach a research issue. Then researchers use correlation studies, case studies, surveys, naturalistic observation, and experimentation to obtain information. Ethical principles govern their research.

Section 2 explores the problems in gathering data that psychologists must recognize and resolve. Psychologists' attitudes and reactions may influence the results of studies, and so certain methods, such as the single-blind and double-blind techniques and placebos, are used to avoid the self-fulfilling prophecy in a study.

Section 3 describes the methods that psychologists use to interpret the results of their research. Psychologists can use statistics, a branch of mathematics, to support their hypotheses when meaningful data is evaluated correctly. Descriptive statistics include distributions of data, measures of central tendency, measures of variance, and correlation coefficients. Inferential statistics are used to make generalizations about the population from which the experiment participants come.

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