What are the research methods in psychology? The truth is there are many. But the main types of research methods used in psychology are quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative research involves using data to:
- Make descriptions
- Predict outcomes
- Test an independent variable
Case StudyCase study research methodology is a kind of qualitative method. Case studies include deep inquiry into:
- Assist patients with psychological ailments
- Diagnose patients
- Understand problems
How to Use Case Study Research MethodYou conduct case studies by interviewing patients and observing them. You then describe the patient’s behavior. And you discuss events from the patient’s perspective. The interviews should be casual. You want the person to feel relaxed. Casual relationships yield the best outcomes. And your observations come from watching the person in their everyday life. Casual relationships are not causal relationships. The two have different meanings. A causal relationship exists when one variable has direct influence on another variable. Your future research depends on these variables. But in case study, your data sources include:
Content AnalysisThis psychology methodology includes text-based data. You use this data to identify meanings and themes. It can be both quantitative and qualitative. For example, quantitative researchers can search for specific phrases. Then, they can add them for a final count. In this way, they turn the text into numerical data. Qualitative context analysis searches for the meaning of texts. You do this by identifying themes in the data. This means coding and categorizing the text to understand it. Also, researchers use a technique called close reading.
Close ReadingThrough the close reading research method, you turn text into coded units. This requires you to read the text many times. You read it until you reach data saturation. This means all the text must become code. Close reading is inductive analysis. This is because you don’t test theories with close reading. Rather, you code the data to see if a theory emerges. This process is also known as conventional or formative analysis. There is also directed analysis. It’s like formative analysis, but not the same. A directed approach is deductive. From the start, the researcher begins with a hypothesis. Then, they create coding units from there. Next, you search for those types of code in the text. It’s like running the data through a filter. And the research and hypotheses are the filter. This is what we mean by thematic content analysis.
Summative AnalysisOnce you finish the thematic analysis, you do a summative analysis. Here, you compare themes across different texts. Summative analysis is both quantitative and qualitative. It depends on how you use it. It’s quantitative if you transform text to numbers. For instance, you might tally the total occurrences of certain phrases. Researchers may also perform qualitative analysis. In this way, they search for meaning in the text. To do this, they might look at specific contexts while analyzing.
Ground TheoryAnother methodology in psychology is the ground theory. Ground theory is an inductive style of analysis. In that way, it’s like summative analysis. And it’s popular among the types of research psychology experts use. You use ground theory for theory development. And this method has been around for 50 years. Unlike summative analysis, ground theory is never quantitative. But it is deductive in nature. You use it to establish hypotheses through data collection and analysis. Ground theory research is an involved process. Investigators must analyze literature and existing data. This will shape their current psychological research. Also, during this phase, you might discover interesting things. That includes finding unique perspectives and alternate answers to your questions. Like others in this category, ground theory happens during content analysis. It involves critical reviews of actors’ responses to codes or themes. This might take the form of a survey or interview. But whatever it is, it must follow specific stages.
Stages in Ground Theory
CodingCoding is a tedious process. It places text into categories. It does this through line-by-line analysis. It names concepts and categories, then repeats the process. Experts call this open coding in psychological research. And it allows you to gather the important bits of the quantitative data.
CategorizingWe’ve now established the codes. What next? The answer is organization. Researchers must put similar codes into groups.
ConceptualizingThen, you must find meaning in these categories. The groups will help you generate a theory. To do this, you construct the categories around a central idea. This idea ties the concepts together.
TheorizingTheorizing occurs in every step. But you use it most at the end of your research. The final step includes analyzing your work. This will lead to the development of a theory.
ExperimentThere are many types of experiments in psychology. This is a broad kind of research. And it can be part of many other research methods in psychology. We use the term “experiment” to describe a specific procedure. In science, experiments are a popular method of research. There are many components of an experimental design:
- Control group
- Control of variables
- Showing cause and effect
3 Main Types of Experiments
- Field experiments
- Lab experiments
- Natural experiments
- Human behavior studies
- Human development
- Sleep studies
Observational StudyThere are many types of studies in psychology. Observational studies are one type, and they’re qualitative. You can perform them in many ways. And this includes non-experimental means, too. The main part of observational studies is (you guessed it) observing! In psychology, you observe behavior. The goal is to discover variables that affect behaviors in:
- Social constructs
Guidelines to Follow for Observational Study
- Individuals must remain anonymous
- Observations must happen in public contexts
- You must not expect private observations
Survey MethodNow for the last of the types of research methods in psychology. The survey research method. This research method can be qualitative research or quantitative research. And scientists of all types use it, not only psychologists. In this study, researchers send participants surveys. This is a series of questions that ask for participants’ self-reported:
Communication Channels for Survey Data Collection Studies
- In person
- The internet
- Video chat
- Gender inequality
- Substance abuse
Other Types of Research Methods Used in Psychology
- Correlational research
- Dependent variable
- Independent variable
- Experimental task design
- Positive correlation (also correlational research)
- Structured observation
- Random sampling in experimental design
- Statistical estimation
Final ThoughtsThe above five research methods provide a glance at different psychology research methods. In reality, they are more complicated. They contain more detail in size and scope than presented here. But our overview highlights how different and rigorous research can be. There are many other methods not listed here. But most fall into the above five categories. Research occurs at all levels of academia and other settings. Master’s and Ph.D. students learn research skills while preparing for careers. And the subjects they study vary. They may research biology, data science, visual media, or literature. Their future research and sampling methods are broad. And you can apply them to all forms of study. In general, research methods aren’t flawless. But they proved rigorous and robust over time. And they’ve produced great findings in psychology. All methods attempt to understand the human mind. We wish to know how it functions and impacts behavior. And we have yet to do so. But the above methods will push us closer to that goal.
By BDP Staff