Lecture: Research Methods in Psychology
Reading Assignment 3:
Characteristics of Good Psychological Research (pp. 32-37)
Click for the objectives for Reading Assignment 3

The use of the scientific methods is very important to the discipline of Psychology and is why it is considered a science. As a result of adopting the scientific method, the tools and terminology often used when acquiring new information are scientific in nature. Acquiring new information typically begins with a Hypothesis; the psychological definition of Hypothesis that we will use in this class is a bit more specific that "an educated guess." We do not simply wish to guess about instances of behavior, but rather to explain and predict human behavior. To do such a thing, Psychologists have proposed various Theories. A quick survey of the discipline would reveal an astronomical number of proposed Theories.

Measurement is a crucial characteristic of any science; Psychology is no exception and it uses Measure(s) to make inferences and predictions about human behavior. When investigating human behavior, an important decision must be a made about the type of variable that should be used. The researcher might choose to investigate using a Categorical Variable or a Continuous Variable.

Standardized Procedures are also crucial to ensure that the results of a scientific investigation have Generalizability. Psychologists often perform research studies on small and manageable Samples. This is done to learn about a larger Population. In doing so, however, it is crucial that the Sample resembles key characteristics of the Population that are deemed important; in other words, the Sample must be a Representative Sample of the Population.

When evaluating the quality of a completed research, a smart evaluator would assess aspects of Reliability and Validity. The three aspects of Reliability discussed in this reading assignment all pertain to Measures; they are Inter-Item Reliability (or Internal Consistency), Inter-Rater Reliability, and Test-Retest Reliability. Validity pertains to Measures and research studies. Measures can be evaluated with respect to Face Validity, Construct Validity, and Criterion Validity. Validity, as it pertains to a research study, often places the researcher in a peculiar situation known as the Experimenter’s Dilemma. The Experimenter’s Dilemma pertains to a possible trade-off that might have to occur between Internal Validity and External Validity. The Experimenter's Dilemma is important because both forms of Validity are often important to the researcher conducting the experiment.


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