Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Research, Statistics, and Psychology
Research and statistics employ such meaningful roles in psychology whereas without both psychology may not exist. In psychology the importance of research is to help understand human beings and behaviors, but without research questions concerning human beings and behavior would go unanswered. Thoughts and theories concerning human beings and behaviors would go unanswered as well. Using and relying on the scientific method, psychology uses the research and statistics gathered to prove or disprove thoughts and theories. The importance of statistics in psychology is that they help in determining if research findings are not substantive or substantive. Not only do research and statistics play a part in psychology, the roles of the scientific method, primary data, and secondary data contribute as well.
Research and the Scientific Method
Research is the collection and evaluation of information or data about a particular subject (Nordquist, 2013). Psychology research is about values, variables, and scores. Values are categories or numbers, variables are characteristics or conditions that can have different values, and scores are a particular individual’s value on a variable (Aron, Aron, & Coups, 2009). Psychological processes confirmed by research to occur outside one’s awareness with several associations between behaviors, and feelings, or situations guiding one’s behavior, either unconsciously or implicitly (Kowalski & Westen, 2011). There are several types of research methods, which include archival research, naturalistic observation, survey research, and case studies. Feldman, (2010) “research is the systematic inquiry aimed toward the discovery of new knowledge, which is the main element of the scientific method in psychology” (p. 26).
The Scientific Method is a set of procedures and principles used by researchers in developing questions, collecting data, and reaching conclusions (Cherry, 2013). Feldman, (2010) “the scientific method, which encompasses the process of identifying, asking, and answering questions, is used by psychologists, and by researchers from every other scientific discipline, to come to an understanding about the world.” (p. 25). When, psychologists take this approach they systematically acquire understandings and knowledge about behavior and other phenomena that may be of interest. Within the scientific method there are four steps, which are step one to identify questions of interest, step two is formulating an explanation, step three is to carry out research, designed to support or disprove the explanation, and step four is to communicate any findings (Feldman, 2010).
Comparing and Contrasting Primary and Secondary Data
In research data is either primary data or secondary data, and which type of data depends on the information’s source. Primary data or original material, such as a study or an account of an interview or lab experiment or field experiment performed by an author, which not interpreted by anyone other than the original creator (Duffy, 2012). Secondary data is data, which is not collected by the user but by another individual. Therefore, one uses another individual’s results collected beforehand. Primary data interprets and analyzes primary resources by using them to explore their meanings or to explain certain events of the past (Duffy, 2012). When tailored to a researcher’s specific needs, primary research provides researchers with the most up-to-date and accurate data. Duffy (2012), “secondary sources are produced after the events or primary sources they comment upon, and their authors tend to be modern scholars or commentators rather than eyewitnesses of what they write about” (para. 3).
Primary sources types include observations, interviews, case studies, surveys, experiments, questionnaires, and stories. Although secondary sources include textbooks, articles in journals, scholarly books, and online databases. This is already researched information provided by other sources. This time-consuming and expensive means to acquire primary data leaves it open to personal bias or experimenter bias. However, its validity remains intact by any individual therefore one assumes secondary data’s validity is lesser. Unlike primary data, secondary data is less time-consuming, relatively cheap, and easily accessible. Data whether primary or secondary, is assumed as the lowest unit of information from which other analysis may be achieved (Duffy, 2012).
The Role of Statistics in Research
Statistics are a branch of mathematics focusing on the analysis, organization, and interpretation of a group of numbers (Aron, Aron, & Coups, 2009). In research statistics are necessary for researchers to make sense of numbers and data collected when conducting research, and to organize gathered information (Aron, Aron, & Coups, 2009). Statistical methods are also used by researchers to make sense of numbers and data collected, such as descriptive statistics and inferential statistics. Descriptive statistics procedures summarize and describe a group of numbers from a research study (Aron, Aron, & Coups, 2009). Inferential statistics procedures draw conclusions in a research study and beyond that study because of scores. Statistics enable researches to present data in clearly and precisely, which allows other researchers to read and understand other researcher’s work. Another importance benefit of statistics in research is that they help to determine if research findings are correct or incorrect. Statistics also help psychologist read and understand other researcher’s work.
The roles research and statistics play in psychology are just as important as the roles that the scientific method, primary data, and secondary data play in research and statistics. To understand the research process and to include different kinds of statistical analysis used one enables the consumption of psychology.
Aron, A., Aron, E.N., & Coups, E. (2009). Statistics for psychology (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Nordquist, R. (2013). About.com. Retrieved from http://grammar.about.com/od/rs/g/researchterm.htm
Cherry, K. (2013). About.com: Psychology. Retrieved from http://psychology.about.com/od/researchmethods/a/steps-of-scientific-method.htm
Kowalski, R., & Westen, D. (2011). Psychology (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Feldman, R. S. (2010). Psychology and your life. New York: McGraw Hill.
Duffy, K. (2012). BSGPsychology. Retrieved from http://gsspsychology.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/research-primary-and-secondary-data/