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Research Methods in Psychology

Psychological Research

Introduction

The Scientific Method

Psychologists study a wide range of topics, such as language development in children and the effects of sensory deprivation on behavior. They use scientifically testable models and methods to conduct their research.

Describing Research

Scientists use the following terms to describe their research:

  • Variables: the events, characteristics, behaviors, or conditions that researchers measure and study.
  • Subject or participant: an individual person or animal a researcher studies.
  • Sample: a collection of subjects researchers study. Researchers use samples because they cannot study the entire population.
  • Population: the collection of people or animals from which researchers draw a sample. Researchers study the sample and generalize their results to the population.

The Purpose of Research

Psychologists have three main goals when doing research:

  • To find ways to measure and describe behavior
  • To understand why, when, and how events occur
  • To apply this knowledge to solving real-world problems

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