NCERT Textbook - Methods of Enquiry in Psychology Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

Psychology Class 11

Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Methods of Enquiry in Psychology Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


Psychology
22
Chapter
2
Methods of Enquiry
in Psychology
Methods of Enquiry
in Psychology
• explain the goals and nature of psychological enquiry,
• understand different types of data used by psychologists,
• describe some important methods of psychological enquiry,
• understand the methods of analysing data, and
• learn about the limitations of psychological enquiry and ethical
considerations.
After reading this chapter, you would be able to
Introduction
Goals of Psychological Enquiry
Steps in Conducting Scientific Research
Alternative Paradigms of Research
Nature of Psychological Data
Some Important Methods in Psychology
Observational Method
Example of an Experiment (Box 2.1)
Experimental Method
Correlational Research
Survey Research
Example of Survey Method (Box 2.2)
Psychological Testing
Case Study
Analysis of Data
Quantitative Method
Qualitative Method
Limitations of Psychological Enquiry
Ethical Issues
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Contents
An idea that is developed and put into
action is more important than an idea
that exists only as an idea.
– Gautam Buddha
2019-20
Page 2


Psychology
22
Chapter
2
Methods of Enquiry
in Psychology
Methods of Enquiry
in Psychology
• explain the goals and nature of psychological enquiry,
• understand different types of data used by psychologists,
• describe some important methods of psychological enquiry,
• understand the methods of analysing data, and
• learn about the limitations of psychological enquiry and ethical
considerations.
After reading this chapter, you would be able to
Introduction
Goals of Psychological Enquiry
Steps in Conducting Scientific Research
Alternative Paradigms of Research
Nature of Psychological Data
Some Important Methods in Psychology
Observational Method
Example of an Experiment (Box 2.1)
Experimental Method
Correlational Research
Survey Research
Example of Survey Method (Box 2.2)
Psychological Testing
Case Study
Analysis of Data
Quantitative Method
Qualitative Method
Limitations of Psychological Enquiry
Ethical Issues
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Contents
An idea that is developed and put into
action is more important than an idea
that exists only as an idea.
– Gautam Buddha
2019-20
Chapter 2 • Methods of Enquiry in Psychology
23
Prediction :     The second goal of scientific
enquiry is prediction of behaviour. If you are
able to understand and describe the behaviour
accurately, you come to know the relationship
of a particular behaviour with other types of
behaviours, events, or phenomena. You can
then forecast that under certain conditions
this particular behaviour may occur within a
certain margin of error. For example, on the
basis of study, a researcher is able to establish
a positive relationship between the amount of
study time and achievement in different
subjects. Later, if you come to know that a
particular child devotes more time for study,
you can predict that the child is likely to get
good marks in the examination. Prediction
becomes more accurate with the increase in
the number of persons observed.
Explanation : The third goal of psychological
enquiry is to know the causal factors or
determinants of behaviour. Psychologists are
primarily interested in knowing the factors
that make behaviour occur. Also, what are the
conditions under which a particular behaviour
does not occur. For example, what makes
some children more attentive in the class? Why
GOALS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL ENQUIRY
Like any scientific research, psychological
enquiry has the following goals: description,
prediction, explanation, and control of
behaviour, and application of knowledge so
generated, in an objective manner. Let us try
to understand the meaning of these terms.
Description : In a psychological study, we
attempt to describe a behaviour or a
phenomenon as accurately as possible. This
helps in distinguishing a particular behaviour
from other behaviours. For example, the
researcher may be interested in observing
study habits among students. Study habits
may consist of diverse range of behaviours,
such as attending all your classes regularly,
submitting assignments on time, planning
your study schedule, studying according to
the set schedule, revising your work on a daily
basis etc. Within a particular category there
may be further minute descriptions. The
researcher needs to describe her/his meaning
of study habits. The description requires
recording of a particular behaviour which
helps in its proper understanding.
You have read in the first chapter that psychology is the study of experiences,
behaviours, and mental processes. You may now be curious to know how
psychologists study these phenomena. In other words, what methods are used to
study behaviour and mental processes? Like all scientists, psychologists seek to
describe, predict, explain and control what they study. For this, psychologists rely
on formal, systematic observations to address their questions. It is the methodology
that makes psychology a scientific endeavour . Psychologists use a variety of research
methods because questions about human behaviour are numerous and all of them
cannot be studied by a single method. Methods such as observation, experimental,
correlational research, survey, psychological testing and case study are more
frequently used to study the problems of psychology. This chapter will familiarise
you with the goals of psychological enquiry, the nature of information or data that
we collect in psychological studies, the diverse range of methodological devices
available for the study of psychology, and some important issues related to
psychological studies.
Introduction
2019-20
Page 3


Psychology
22
Chapter
2
Methods of Enquiry
in Psychology
Methods of Enquiry
in Psychology
• explain the goals and nature of psychological enquiry,
• understand different types of data used by psychologists,
• describe some important methods of psychological enquiry,
• understand the methods of analysing data, and
• learn about the limitations of psychological enquiry and ethical
considerations.
After reading this chapter, you would be able to
Introduction
Goals of Psychological Enquiry
Steps in Conducting Scientific Research
Alternative Paradigms of Research
Nature of Psychological Data
Some Important Methods in Psychology
Observational Method
Example of an Experiment (Box 2.1)
Experimental Method
Correlational Research
Survey Research
Example of Survey Method (Box 2.2)
Psychological Testing
Case Study
Analysis of Data
Quantitative Method
Qualitative Method
Limitations of Psychological Enquiry
Ethical Issues
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Contents
An idea that is developed and put into
action is more important than an idea
that exists only as an idea.
– Gautam Buddha
2019-20
Chapter 2 • Methods of Enquiry in Psychology
23
Prediction :     The second goal of scientific
enquiry is prediction of behaviour. If you are
able to understand and describe the behaviour
accurately, you come to know the relationship
of a particular behaviour with other types of
behaviours, events, or phenomena. You can
then forecast that under certain conditions
this particular behaviour may occur within a
certain margin of error. For example, on the
basis of study, a researcher is able to establish
a positive relationship between the amount of
study time and achievement in different
subjects. Later, if you come to know that a
particular child devotes more time for study,
you can predict that the child is likely to get
good marks in the examination. Prediction
becomes more accurate with the increase in
the number of persons observed.
Explanation : The third goal of psychological
enquiry is to know the causal factors or
determinants of behaviour. Psychologists are
primarily interested in knowing the factors
that make behaviour occur. Also, what are the
conditions under which a particular behaviour
does not occur. For example, what makes
some children more attentive in the class? Why
GOALS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL ENQUIRY
Like any scientific research, psychological
enquiry has the following goals: description,
prediction, explanation, and control of
behaviour, and application of knowledge so
generated, in an objective manner. Let us try
to understand the meaning of these terms.
Description : In a psychological study, we
attempt to describe a behaviour or a
phenomenon as accurately as possible. This
helps in distinguishing a particular behaviour
from other behaviours. For example, the
researcher may be interested in observing
study habits among students. Study habits
may consist of diverse range of behaviours,
such as attending all your classes regularly,
submitting assignments on time, planning
your study schedule, studying according to
the set schedule, revising your work on a daily
basis etc. Within a particular category there
may be further minute descriptions. The
researcher needs to describe her/his meaning
of study habits. The description requires
recording of a particular behaviour which
helps in its proper understanding.
You have read in the first chapter that psychology is the study of experiences,
behaviours, and mental processes. You may now be curious to know how
psychologists study these phenomena. In other words, what methods are used to
study behaviour and mental processes? Like all scientists, psychologists seek to
describe, predict, explain and control what they study. For this, psychologists rely
on formal, systematic observations to address their questions. It is the methodology
that makes psychology a scientific endeavour . Psychologists use a variety of research
methods because questions about human behaviour are numerous and all of them
cannot be studied by a single method. Methods such as observation, experimental,
correlational research, survey, psychological testing and case study are more
frequently used to study the problems of psychology. This chapter will familiarise
you with the goals of psychological enquiry, the nature of information or data that
we collect in psychological studies, the diverse range of methodological devices
available for the study of psychology, and some important issues related to
psychological studies.
Introduction
2019-20
Psychology
24
some children devote less time for study as
compared to others? Thus, this goal is
concerned with identifying the determinants
or antecedent conditions (i.e. conditions that
led to the particular behaviour) of the
behaviour being studied so that cause-effect
relationship between two variables (objects) or
events could be established.
Control :     If you are able to explain why a
particular behaviour occurs, you can control
that behaviour by making changes in its
antecedent conditions. Control refers to three
things: making a particular behaviour happen,
reducing it, or enhancing it. For example, you
can allow the number of hours devoted to
study to be the same, or you can reduce them
or there may be an increase in the study hours.
The change brought about in behaviour by
psychological treatment in terms of therapy
in persons, is a good example of control.
Application :     The final goal of the scientific
enquiry is to bring out positive changes in the
lives of people. Psychological research is
conducted to solve problems in various
settings. Because of these efforts the quality
of life of people is a major concern of
psychologists. For example, applications of
yoga and meditation help to reduce stress and
increase efficiency. Scientific enquiry is also
conducted to develop new theories or
constructs, which leads to further research.
Steps in Conducting Scientific Research
Science is not so defined by what it
investigates as by how it investigates. The
scientific method attempts to study a
particular event or phenomenon in an
objective, systematic, and testable manner.
The objectivity refers to the fact that if two
or more persons independently study a
particular event, both of them, to a great
extent, should arrive at the same conclusion.
For instance, if you and your friend measure
the length of a table using the same measuring
device, it is likely that both of you would arrive
at the same conclusion about its length.
The second characteristic of scientific
research is that it follows systematic
procedure or steps of investigation. It includes
the following steps: conceptualisation of a
problem, collection of data, drawing
conclusions, and revising research conclusions
and theory (see Fig.2.1). Let us discuss these
steps in some detail.
(1) Conceptualising a Problem :     The process
of scientific research begins when a researcher
Fig.2.1 : Steps in Conducting Scientific Enquiry
Conceptualising a Problem
Selecting a topic for study
Collecting Data
Participants, methods,
tools and procedure
Revising Research
Conclusions
Restating existing hypothesis/
formulating revised or a
new theory
Drawing Conclusions
Using statistical methods
1
4
2
3
2019-20
Page 4


Psychology
22
Chapter
2
Methods of Enquiry
in Psychology
Methods of Enquiry
in Psychology
• explain the goals and nature of psychological enquiry,
• understand different types of data used by psychologists,
• describe some important methods of psychological enquiry,
• understand the methods of analysing data, and
• learn about the limitations of psychological enquiry and ethical
considerations.
After reading this chapter, you would be able to
Introduction
Goals of Psychological Enquiry
Steps in Conducting Scientific Research
Alternative Paradigms of Research
Nature of Psychological Data
Some Important Methods in Psychology
Observational Method
Example of an Experiment (Box 2.1)
Experimental Method
Correlational Research
Survey Research
Example of Survey Method (Box 2.2)
Psychological Testing
Case Study
Analysis of Data
Quantitative Method
Qualitative Method
Limitations of Psychological Enquiry
Ethical Issues
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Contents
An idea that is developed and put into
action is more important than an idea
that exists only as an idea.
– Gautam Buddha
2019-20
Chapter 2 • Methods of Enquiry in Psychology
23
Prediction :     The second goal of scientific
enquiry is prediction of behaviour. If you are
able to understand and describe the behaviour
accurately, you come to know the relationship
of a particular behaviour with other types of
behaviours, events, or phenomena. You can
then forecast that under certain conditions
this particular behaviour may occur within a
certain margin of error. For example, on the
basis of study, a researcher is able to establish
a positive relationship between the amount of
study time and achievement in different
subjects. Later, if you come to know that a
particular child devotes more time for study,
you can predict that the child is likely to get
good marks in the examination. Prediction
becomes more accurate with the increase in
the number of persons observed.
Explanation : The third goal of psychological
enquiry is to know the causal factors or
determinants of behaviour. Psychologists are
primarily interested in knowing the factors
that make behaviour occur. Also, what are the
conditions under which a particular behaviour
does not occur. For example, what makes
some children more attentive in the class? Why
GOALS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL ENQUIRY
Like any scientific research, psychological
enquiry has the following goals: description,
prediction, explanation, and control of
behaviour, and application of knowledge so
generated, in an objective manner. Let us try
to understand the meaning of these terms.
Description : In a psychological study, we
attempt to describe a behaviour or a
phenomenon as accurately as possible. This
helps in distinguishing a particular behaviour
from other behaviours. For example, the
researcher may be interested in observing
study habits among students. Study habits
may consist of diverse range of behaviours,
such as attending all your classes regularly,
submitting assignments on time, planning
your study schedule, studying according to
the set schedule, revising your work on a daily
basis etc. Within a particular category there
may be further minute descriptions. The
researcher needs to describe her/his meaning
of study habits. The description requires
recording of a particular behaviour which
helps in its proper understanding.
You have read in the first chapter that psychology is the study of experiences,
behaviours, and mental processes. You may now be curious to know how
psychologists study these phenomena. In other words, what methods are used to
study behaviour and mental processes? Like all scientists, psychologists seek to
describe, predict, explain and control what they study. For this, psychologists rely
on formal, systematic observations to address their questions. It is the methodology
that makes psychology a scientific endeavour . Psychologists use a variety of research
methods because questions about human behaviour are numerous and all of them
cannot be studied by a single method. Methods such as observation, experimental,
correlational research, survey, psychological testing and case study are more
frequently used to study the problems of psychology. This chapter will familiarise
you with the goals of psychological enquiry, the nature of information or data that
we collect in psychological studies, the diverse range of methodological devices
available for the study of psychology, and some important issues related to
psychological studies.
Introduction
2019-20
Psychology
24
some children devote less time for study as
compared to others? Thus, this goal is
concerned with identifying the determinants
or antecedent conditions (i.e. conditions that
led to the particular behaviour) of the
behaviour being studied so that cause-effect
relationship between two variables (objects) or
events could be established.
Control :     If you are able to explain why a
particular behaviour occurs, you can control
that behaviour by making changes in its
antecedent conditions. Control refers to three
things: making a particular behaviour happen,
reducing it, or enhancing it. For example, you
can allow the number of hours devoted to
study to be the same, or you can reduce them
or there may be an increase in the study hours.
The change brought about in behaviour by
psychological treatment in terms of therapy
in persons, is a good example of control.
Application :     The final goal of the scientific
enquiry is to bring out positive changes in the
lives of people. Psychological research is
conducted to solve problems in various
settings. Because of these efforts the quality
of life of people is a major concern of
psychologists. For example, applications of
yoga and meditation help to reduce stress and
increase efficiency. Scientific enquiry is also
conducted to develop new theories or
constructs, which leads to further research.
Steps in Conducting Scientific Research
Science is not so defined by what it
investigates as by how it investigates. The
scientific method attempts to study a
particular event or phenomenon in an
objective, systematic, and testable manner.
The objectivity refers to the fact that if two
or more persons independently study a
particular event, both of them, to a great
extent, should arrive at the same conclusion.
For instance, if you and your friend measure
the length of a table using the same measuring
device, it is likely that both of you would arrive
at the same conclusion about its length.
The second characteristic of scientific
research is that it follows systematic
procedure or steps of investigation. It includes
the following steps: conceptualisation of a
problem, collection of data, drawing
conclusions, and revising research conclusions
and theory (see Fig.2.1). Let us discuss these
steps in some detail.
(1) Conceptualising a Problem :     The process
of scientific research begins when a researcher
Fig.2.1 : Steps in Conducting Scientific Enquiry
Conceptualising a Problem
Selecting a topic for study
Collecting Data
Participants, methods,
tools and procedure
Revising Research
Conclusions
Restating existing hypothesis/
formulating revised or a
new theory
Drawing Conclusions
Using statistical methods
1
4
2
3
2019-20
Chapter 2 • Methods of Enquiry in Psychology
25
selects a theme or topic for study. Then s/he
narrows down the focus and develops specific
research questions or problems for the study.
This is done on the basis of review of past
research, observations, and personal
experiences. For example, earlier you read that
a researcher was interested in observing the
study habits of students. For this purpose,
s/he may identify different facets of study
habits first, and then decide whether s/he is
interested in study habits shown in the class
or at home.
In psychology we study a diverse range of
problems related to behaviour and
experiences. These problems may be related
to (a) understanding our own behaviour (for
example, how do I feel and behave when I am
in a state of joy or grief? How do we reflect on
our own experiences and behaviour? Why do
we forget?); (b) understanding other
individual’s behaviour (for example, Is Abhinav
more intelligent than Ankur? Why is someone
always not able to complete her or his work on
time? Can the habit of smoking be controlled?
Why do some people suffering from chronic
illness not take medicines?); (c) group
influences on individual behaviour (for
example, why does Rahim spend more time
meeting with people than doing his work?,
Why does a cyclist perform better when cycling
before a group of persons than when cycling
alone?); (d) group behaviour (for example, why
does risk-taking behaviour increase when
people are in a group?), and (e) organisational
level (for example, why are some organisations
more successful than others? How can an
employer increase the motivation of
employees?). The list is long and you will learn
about these various facets in subsequent
chapters. If you are inquisitive, you can write
down a number of problems which you may
like to probe.
After identification of the problem, the
researcher proceeds by developing a tentative
answer of the problem, which is called
hypothesis. For example, based on the earlier
evidence or your observation, you might
develop a hypothesis ‘greater is the amount
of time spent by children in viewing violence
on television, higher is the degree of aggression
displayed by them’. In your research, you shall
now try to prove whether the statement is true
or false.
(2) Collecting Data : The second step in
scientific research is to collect data. Data
collection requires developing a research
design or a blueprint of the entire study. It
requires taking decisions about the following
four aspects: (a) participants in the study,
(b) methods of data collection, (c) tools to be
used in research, and (d) procedure for data
collection. Depending upon the nature of the
study, the researcher has to decide who would
be the participants (or informants) in the
study. The participants could be children,
adolescents, college students, teachers,
managers, clinical patients, industrial
workers, or any group of individuals in whom/
where the phenomenon under investigation
is prevalent. The second decision is related to
the use of methods of data collection, such as
observation method, experimental method,
correlational method, case study, etc. The
researcher  needs to decide about appropriate
tools (for example, interview schedule,
observation schedule, questionnaire, etc.) for
data collection. The researcher also decides
about how the tools need to be administered
to collect data (i.e. individual or group). This
is followed by actual collection of data.
(3) Drawing Conclusions :      The next step is to
analyse data so collected through the use of
statistical procedures to understand what the
data mean. This can be achieved through
graphical representations (such as preparation
of pie-chart, bar-diagram, cumulative
frequencies, etc.) and by the use of different
statistical methods. The purpose of analysis
is to verify a hypothesis and draw conclusions
accordingly.
(4) Revising Research Conclusions :     The
researcher may have begun the study with a
hypothesis that there exists a relationship
between viewing violence on television and
aggression among children. S/he has to see
whether the conclusions support this
2019-20
Page 5


Psychology
22
Chapter
2
Methods of Enquiry
in Psychology
Methods of Enquiry
in Psychology
• explain the goals and nature of psychological enquiry,
• understand different types of data used by psychologists,
• describe some important methods of psychological enquiry,
• understand the methods of analysing data, and
• learn about the limitations of psychological enquiry and ethical
considerations.
After reading this chapter, you would be able to
Introduction
Goals of Psychological Enquiry
Steps in Conducting Scientific Research
Alternative Paradigms of Research
Nature of Psychological Data
Some Important Methods in Psychology
Observational Method
Example of an Experiment (Box 2.1)
Experimental Method
Correlational Research
Survey Research
Example of Survey Method (Box 2.2)
Psychological Testing
Case Study
Analysis of Data
Quantitative Method
Qualitative Method
Limitations of Psychological Enquiry
Ethical Issues
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Contents
An idea that is developed and put into
action is more important than an idea
that exists only as an idea.
– Gautam Buddha
2019-20
Chapter 2 • Methods of Enquiry in Psychology
23
Prediction :     The second goal of scientific
enquiry is prediction of behaviour. If you are
able to understand and describe the behaviour
accurately, you come to know the relationship
of a particular behaviour with other types of
behaviours, events, or phenomena. You can
then forecast that under certain conditions
this particular behaviour may occur within a
certain margin of error. For example, on the
basis of study, a researcher is able to establish
a positive relationship between the amount of
study time and achievement in different
subjects. Later, if you come to know that a
particular child devotes more time for study,
you can predict that the child is likely to get
good marks in the examination. Prediction
becomes more accurate with the increase in
the number of persons observed.
Explanation : The third goal of psychological
enquiry is to know the causal factors or
determinants of behaviour. Psychologists are
primarily interested in knowing the factors
that make behaviour occur. Also, what are the
conditions under which a particular behaviour
does not occur. For example, what makes
some children more attentive in the class? Why
GOALS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL ENQUIRY
Like any scientific research, psychological
enquiry has the following goals: description,
prediction, explanation, and control of
behaviour, and application of knowledge so
generated, in an objective manner. Let us try
to understand the meaning of these terms.
Description : In a psychological study, we
attempt to describe a behaviour or a
phenomenon as accurately as possible. This
helps in distinguishing a particular behaviour
from other behaviours. For example, the
researcher may be interested in observing
study habits among students. Study habits
may consist of diverse range of behaviours,
such as attending all your classes regularly,
submitting assignments on time, planning
your study schedule, studying according to
the set schedule, revising your work on a daily
basis etc. Within a particular category there
may be further minute descriptions. The
researcher needs to describe her/his meaning
of study habits. The description requires
recording of a particular behaviour which
helps in its proper understanding.
You have read in the first chapter that psychology is the study of experiences,
behaviours, and mental processes. You may now be curious to know how
psychologists study these phenomena. In other words, what methods are used to
study behaviour and mental processes? Like all scientists, psychologists seek to
describe, predict, explain and control what they study. For this, psychologists rely
on formal, systematic observations to address their questions. It is the methodology
that makes psychology a scientific endeavour . Psychologists use a variety of research
methods because questions about human behaviour are numerous and all of them
cannot be studied by a single method. Methods such as observation, experimental,
correlational research, survey, psychological testing and case study are more
frequently used to study the problems of psychology. This chapter will familiarise
you with the goals of psychological enquiry, the nature of information or data that
we collect in psychological studies, the diverse range of methodological devices
available for the study of psychology, and some important issues related to
psychological studies.
Introduction
2019-20
Psychology
24
some children devote less time for study as
compared to others? Thus, this goal is
concerned with identifying the determinants
or antecedent conditions (i.e. conditions that
led to the particular behaviour) of the
behaviour being studied so that cause-effect
relationship between two variables (objects) or
events could be established.
Control :     If you are able to explain why a
particular behaviour occurs, you can control
that behaviour by making changes in its
antecedent conditions. Control refers to three
things: making a particular behaviour happen,
reducing it, or enhancing it. For example, you
can allow the number of hours devoted to
study to be the same, or you can reduce them
or there may be an increase in the study hours.
The change brought about in behaviour by
psychological treatment in terms of therapy
in persons, is a good example of control.
Application :     The final goal of the scientific
enquiry is to bring out positive changes in the
lives of people. Psychological research is
conducted to solve problems in various
settings. Because of these efforts the quality
of life of people is a major concern of
psychologists. For example, applications of
yoga and meditation help to reduce stress and
increase efficiency. Scientific enquiry is also
conducted to develop new theories or
constructs, which leads to further research.
Steps in Conducting Scientific Research
Science is not so defined by what it
investigates as by how it investigates. The
scientific method attempts to study a
particular event or phenomenon in an
objective, systematic, and testable manner.
The objectivity refers to the fact that if two
or more persons independently study a
particular event, both of them, to a great
extent, should arrive at the same conclusion.
For instance, if you and your friend measure
the length of a table using the same measuring
device, it is likely that both of you would arrive
at the same conclusion about its length.
The second characteristic of scientific
research is that it follows systematic
procedure or steps of investigation. It includes
the following steps: conceptualisation of a
problem, collection of data, drawing
conclusions, and revising research conclusions
and theory (see Fig.2.1). Let us discuss these
steps in some detail.
(1) Conceptualising a Problem :     The process
of scientific research begins when a researcher
Fig.2.1 : Steps in Conducting Scientific Enquiry
Conceptualising a Problem
Selecting a topic for study
Collecting Data
Participants, methods,
tools and procedure
Revising Research
Conclusions
Restating existing hypothesis/
formulating revised or a
new theory
Drawing Conclusions
Using statistical methods
1
4
2
3
2019-20
Chapter 2 • Methods of Enquiry in Psychology
25
selects a theme or topic for study. Then s/he
narrows down the focus and develops specific
research questions or problems for the study.
This is done on the basis of review of past
research, observations, and personal
experiences. For example, earlier you read that
a researcher was interested in observing the
study habits of students. For this purpose,
s/he may identify different facets of study
habits first, and then decide whether s/he is
interested in study habits shown in the class
or at home.
In psychology we study a diverse range of
problems related to behaviour and
experiences. These problems may be related
to (a) understanding our own behaviour (for
example, how do I feel and behave when I am
in a state of joy or grief? How do we reflect on
our own experiences and behaviour? Why do
we forget?); (b) understanding other
individual’s behaviour (for example, Is Abhinav
more intelligent than Ankur? Why is someone
always not able to complete her or his work on
time? Can the habit of smoking be controlled?
Why do some people suffering from chronic
illness not take medicines?); (c) group
influences on individual behaviour (for
example, why does Rahim spend more time
meeting with people than doing his work?,
Why does a cyclist perform better when cycling
before a group of persons than when cycling
alone?); (d) group behaviour (for example, why
does risk-taking behaviour increase when
people are in a group?), and (e) organisational
level (for example, why are some organisations
more successful than others? How can an
employer increase the motivation of
employees?). The list is long and you will learn
about these various facets in subsequent
chapters. If you are inquisitive, you can write
down a number of problems which you may
like to probe.
After identification of the problem, the
researcher proceeds by developing a tentative
answer of the problem, which is called
hypothesis. For example, based on the earlier
evidence or your observation, you might
develop a hypothesis ‘greater is the amount
of time spent by children in viewing violence
on television, higher is the degree of aggression
displayed by them’. In your research, you shall
now try to prove whether the statement is true
or false.
(2) Collecting Data : The second step in
scientific research is to collect data. Data
collection requires developing a research
design or a blueprint of the entire study. It
requires taking decisions about the following
four aspects: (a) participants in the study,
(b) methods of data collection, (c) tools to be
used in research, and (d) procedure for data
collection. Depending upon the nature of the
study, the researcher has to decide who would
be the participants (or informants) in the
study. The participants could be children,
adolescents, college students, teachers,
managers, clinical patients, industrial
workers, or any group of individuals in whom/
where the phenomenon under investigation
is prevalent. The second decision is related to
the use of methods of data collection, such as
observation method, experimental method,
correlational method, case study, etc. The
researcher  needs to decide about appropriate
tools (for example, interview schedule,
observation schedule, questionnaire, etc.) for
data collection. The researcher also decides
about how the tools need to be administered
to collect data (i.e. individual or group). This
is followed by actual collection of data.
(3) Drawing Conclusions :      The next step is to
analyse data so collected through the use of
statistical procedures to understand what the
data mean. This can be achieved through
graphical representations (such as preparation
of pie-chart, bar-diagram, cumulative
frequencies, etc.) and by the use of different
statistical methods. The purpose of analysis
is to verify a hypothesis and draw conclusions
accordingly.
(4) Revising Research Conclusions :     The
researcher may have begun the study with a
hypothesis that there exists a relationship
between viewing violence on television and
aggression among children. S/he has to see
whether the conclusions support this
2019-20
Psychology
26
attempting to disturb its natural flow. For
example, an explorer does not know what s/
he is looking for, how to look for it, and what
to expect. Rather, s/he tries to map an
uncharted wilderness, with little or no prior
knowledge of the area, and her/his main task
is to record detailed descriptions of what is
found in a particular context.
Both scientific and interpretive traditions
are concerned with studying behaviour and
experiences of others. What about our own
personal experiences and behaviour? As a
student of psychology, you may ask yourself
the question: why am I feeling sad? Many times
you take a pledge that you will control your
diet or devote more time to studies. But when
it actually comes to eating or studying you
forget this. You might be wondering why one
does not have control over one’s behaviour.
Should psychology not help you in analysing
your own experiences, thought processes, and
behaviour? It certainly should. The
psychological enquiry does aim at
understanding the self by reflecting on one’s
own experiences and insights.
NATURE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL DATA
You may want to consider how psychological
data are different as compared to other
sciences. Psychologists collect a variety of
information from different sources employing
diverse methods. The information, also called
data (singular = datum), relate to the
individuals’ covert or overt behaviour, their
subjective experiences, and mental processes.
Data form an important input in psychological
enquiry. They in fact approximate the reality
to some extent and provide an opportunity to
verify or falsify our ideas, hunches, notions,
etc. It should be understood that data are not
independent entities. They are located in a
context, and are tied to the method and theory
that govern the process of data collection. In
other words, data are not independent of the
physical or social context, the persons
involved, and the time when the behaviour
occurs. We behave differently when alone than
in a group, or at home and in office. You may
hypothesis. If they do, the existing hypothesis/
theory is confirmed. If not, s/he will revise or
state an alternative hypothesis/theory and
again test it based on new data and draw
conclusions which may be verified by future
researchers. Thus, research is a continuous
process.
Alternative Paradigms of Research
Psychologists suggest that human behaviour
can and should be studied following the
methods adopted by sciences like physics,
chemistry, and biology. The key assumption
of this view is that human behaviour is
predictable, caused by internal and external
forces, and can be observed, measured, and
controlled. In order to achieve these goals, the
discipline of psychology, for larger part of the
twentieth century, restricted itself to the study
of overt behaviour, i.e. the behaviour that
could be observed and measured. It did not
focus on personal feelings, experiences,
meanings, etc.
In recent years, a different method known
as interpretive has emerged. It emphasises
understanding over explanation and
prediction. It takes the stand that, in view of
complex and variable nature of human
behaviour and experience, its method of
investigation should be different from the
method of investigation of the physical world.
This viewpoint emphasises the importance of
how human beings give meaning to events and
actions and interpret them as they occur in a
particular context. Let us take the experiences
that may occur in some unique contexts, such
as persons experiencing suffering due to
external factors (for example, people affected
by tsunami, earthquake, cyclone) or internal
factors (for instance, prolonged illness, etc.).
In such types of situations, objective
measurement is neither possible nor desirable.
Everyone interprets reality in her/his own way
based on past experiences and contexts.
Therefore, we need to understand the
subjective interpretation of the reality. The goal
here is to explore the different aspects of
human experiences and behaviour without
2019-20
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