Friday, October 11, 2019

Experimental Method and Survey Research Essay

Psychology research requires detailed consideration of research methods and goals. The goal of this paper is to compare and contrast the two research methods in psychology. The choice of research methodology is integrally linked to the goals of psychology research. It is possible that several methods are used to ensure relevance and objectivity of research results. The discussion and comparison of the two widely used techniques – experimental method and survey research – will shed the light onto their advantages and limitations. Survey research Surveys represent one of the most common types of quantitative, social science research. In survey research, the researcher selects a sample of respondents from a population and administers a standardized questionnaire to them† (Howitt & Cramer, 2007). Surveys can be performed through different methodological forms: written questionnaires, interviews, on-line data collection, etc. The exact choice of the survey technique is based upon the discipline, in which this technique is to be utilized. For example, face-to-face interviews are frequently used in psychology studies. The universalism of survey research is in the fact, that it can be applied to any area of science, but its value for psychology is indisputable. Survey research is known for its benefits, but its limitations are rarely taken into account (Creswell, 2003). Survey research is extremely valuable for being relatively inexpensive, and providing the researcher with an opportunity to study large population samples. In psychology, survey research makes the evaluation of results uniform and standardized. As a result, survey research generates â€Å"uniform definitions about the research participants† (Creswell, 2003). On the one hand, this uniformity and standardization eliminates ambiguity when research results are interpreted; on the other hand, it omits essential specific elements of individual participants. By choosing survey research as the basis of research methodology, the researcher must ensure that the large population sample will participate in research; otherwise the reliability of the research results will be doubtful. Experimental method â€Å"The experimental method is usually taken to be the most scientific of all methods, the ‘method of choice’† (McQueen & Knussen, 2006). It is actually the study of the cause and effect, and represents a relatively narrow area of psychological research. Experimental method is the only research technique which provides the researcher with an opportunity to study the correlations and links between the cause and the effect of certain phenomena. First of all, artificial experiments can be replicated, and this ensures the generalizability of research results. Second, all variables in experimental method are constantly controlled. Third, it allows manipulating the researched variable in the ways which are impossible or even unacceptable in natural environment. In some cases, psychologists make use of natural situations, and carry out their experiments to investigate the natural behavioral patterns of research participants. However, it is not an experimental method in its pure form, as the psychologist is unable of controlling variables in natural environment (Creswell, 2003). Survey research vs. experimental method The two discussed research methods are different, and these differences should be considered through the prism of their separate elements: validity of results, generalizability, and ethical considerations. The validity of results is often contrasted to their reliability. In distinction from experimental method, survey research results are more reliable than valid. The standardized survey forms do not allow evaluating the â€Å"agree/disagree†, â€Å"yes/no† research results in detail. Furthermore, the results of the survey research can only be judged in terms of their reliability. On the contrary, experimental method produces valid and reliable results, due to the fact that the researcher is able of drawing specific characteristics of the research object, and to narrow the scope of the research to one meaningful variable. Experimental method is in no way connected with uniformity of results – it is initially unique, and is aimed at investigating the situations, which are not typical of daily life (McQueen & Knussen, 2006). Generalizability of results is equally important in both research methods, and both research methods ensure that the research results are easily generalized. Survey research and experimental method are equally associated with significant ethical issues. Although the character of these issues is different, it is difficult to deny that these characteristics are to be accounted before any of the research methods are chosen. Ethical side of experimental method is associated with the way research participants are treated in laboratory environment. Certainly, under experiment people are rather treated as objects, than human beings, and this creates ethical controversy within the experimental methodological framework. â€Å"Recently the use of experimental method has come under considerable criticism for the way that researchers often break ethical guidelines† (Creswell, 2003). As a result, the researcher should realize that significant amount of life situations cannot be studied under experiment due to the fact that such conduct will be considered unethical. Survey research also generates essential ethical controversies, especially when it comes to confidentiality and anonymity issues. Ethical issues become relevant when the researcher finds it necessary to quote research participants in written reports. Actually, psychology research has for long generated numerous ethical debates, this is why numerous ethical guidelines in the area of psychology are designed to eliminate the discussed controversies, and to make research smooth, relevant, and reliable. Summary Survey research and experimental method are the two different research approaches in psychology. The ultimate choice of the research methodology is determined by numerous research criteria. While experimental research is characterized by the high validity of results, it also increases their generalizability; survey research methodology is less connected with validity, but more with the reliability of research results, and remains the single method of studying large population samples.

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