Examples of different research methods
A very wide range of research methods are used in psychology.These methods vary by the sources of information that are drawn on, how that information is sampled, and the types of instruments that are used in data collection. Methods also vary by whether they collect qualitative data, quantitative data or both.
Qualitative psychological research is where the research findings are not arrived at by statistical or other quantitative procedures. Quantitative psychological research is where the research findings result from mathematical modeling and statistical estimation or statistical inference. Since qualitative information can be handled as such statistically, the distinction relates to method, rather than the topic studied.
There are three main types of psychological research:
Some of the approaches include:
- Action research
- Archival research
- Case study method
- Computer simulation, in which the behaviour and/or predictions of a psychological theory capable of being modelled by computer can be explored.
- Correlational research
- Correlational method
- Cooperative inquiry
- Cross-sectional study, in which a snapshot of the population is assumed to represent individuals as they progress through life. See also Longitudinal study.
- Discourse analysis
- Empirical method
- Experimental method
- Experimental study, in which researchers change a variable in the group being studied.
- Field experiment
- Field work
- Interview method can be structured or unstructured.
- Laboratory experimentation
- Longitudinal study, in which subjects are studied over a course of time. Cf. Cross-sectional study.
- Mail surveys
- Mass observation
- Meta analysis, in which statistical results from a number of similar research studies can be amalgamated together
- Naturalistic observation, in which researchers study a population while attempting to change as little as possible.
- Observational method
- Online research methods
- Participatory action research
- Prospective study, in which a study samples subjects as the experiment progresses. Cf. Retrospective study.
- Qualitative research
- Quasi-empirical method
- Retrospective study, in which data is collected on subjects' histories at one time. Cf. Prospective study.
- Self report
- Telephone surveys
Research designs vary according to the period(s) of time over which data is collected:
- Retrospective cohort study: Subjects are chosen, then data is collected on their past experience.
- Prospective cohort study: Subjects are recruited prior to the proposed independent effects being administered or occurring.
- Cross-sectional study, in which a population sampled on all proposed measures at one point in time.
- Longitudinal study: Subjects are studied at multiple time points: May address the cohort effect and indicate causal directions of effects.
Research in psychology has been conducted with both animals and human subjects:
- List of neurological research methods
- Natural experiment
- Observational study
- Twin study
- Stangor, Charles. (2007). Research Methods for the Behavioral Sciences. 3rd ed. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company.
- Weathington, B.L., Cunningham, C.J.L., & Pittenger, D.P. (2010). Research Methods for the Behavioral and Social Sciences. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.