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Fundamentals of Research Methodology

According to the Oxford English Dictionary (2008) psychology is defined as the scientific study of the nature, functioning, and development of the human mind, including the faculties of reason, emotion, perception, communication, and the branch of science that deals with the (human or animal) mind as an entity and in its relationship to the body and to the environmental or social context, based on observation of the behavior of individuals or groups of individuals in particular (ordinary or experimentally controlled) circumstances.

The fundamental approach for performing psychology research engages when asking questions, preparing a report, gathering facts, analyzing outcomes, reaching possibilities and contributing to the results (Shaughnessy, Zechmeister & Zechmeister, 2006). The findings are then put into practice, whether in mental health therapy, an educational setting, or in an industrial organization. Psychology is an extremely wide discipline, ranging from the probable causes of animal and human behavior through the social psychology of interaction and social contacts (Shaughnessy, Zechmeister & Zechmeister, 2006).

In some ways, I think it sits on the fence between the life sciences and the social sciences. Some of the specialties may be more like the “hard” sciences Neuropsychology. An interdisciplinary division of psychology and neuroscience attempts to theorize how the structure and function of the brain relates to specific psychological processes and evident behaviors and which are more like the social sciences. Science of Psychology

According to (Shaughnessy, Zechmeister & Zechmeister, 2006) the psychologists develops theories and conduct psychological research to answer questions about behavior and mental processes which can impact individuals and society. The scientific study is a suitable way of coming to an understanding of life, which can be exceedingly helpful in each part of life. Science also increases theories based on what is observed (Shaughnessy, Zechmeister & Zechmeister, 2006). Psychology needs to be able to assert what it says is true, real, or ‘factual’.

If it doesn’t state, with some confidence that lets say, ‘depression’ exists in the terms it thinks of it, then no one would listen to what it had to say on the subject. On any subject psychology wants to have authority on, it has to be able to say that it references ‘findings’ that it has established as ‘truth’. If it could not do this it would not be able to exist – all the people writing psychologically-based books would be out of work, all the academics in the discipline would be out of work, psychology would not be taught at universities. It would be more like mysticism than a science.

So as a matter of self interest, psychology has to have a very strong commitment to its methods, because its methods are what allow it to perpetuate itself. By having such a strong reliance on its own methods, (and by corollary needing to reject or ignore methods or ideas that stand to threaten or question its methods), psychology has very strong, clear, (necessary) values. The problem with having such strong values (accepting scientific method and rejecting anything that questions or troubles the ‘truth’ claims of scientific method), is that inherently there’s the risk of only seeing one side of the picture.

Scientific Method According to (Shaughnessy, Zechmeister & Zechmeister, 2006) the scientific method is an abstract concept that refers to the ways in which questions are asked and the logic and methods used to gain answers. Two important characteristics of the scientific method are the reliance on an empirical approach and the skeptical attitude scientists adopt toward explanations of behavior and mental processes. The major functions of a theory are to organize empirical knowledge and to guide research (Marx, 1963).

Scientific theories provide a valuable service by presenting a logical organization of the individual findings and identifying the important relationships among the findings. The best way to make a decision is by gathering all the information, and understanding all the variables involved how they interact with each other, and weighing knowledge based on how reliable the information is (Shaughnessy, Zechmeister & Zechmeister, 2006).

Both the scientific method and other ways rely upon observation, however, the scientific method yields answers which can be measured, the data examined by others for accuracy and the results proven to be reliable by other people’s observations, replication. Scientific method is the approach to gaining new knowledge and explanations for observed behavior. It allows us to create a theory that describes the observed behavior, is reproducible and enables us to predict results. The theory will also allow us to design additional tests which confirm (or disprove) this expected behavior.

In the event that the observed results do not match expected behavior, the theory will be revised. Qualitative and Quantitative Data According to (Shaughnessy, Zechmeister & Zechmeister, 2006) qualitative records of behavior are narrative records in the form of written descriptions of behavior, audiotapes, and videotapes which are all-inclusive records of observed behavior. A narrative record tells more information about a subject, like a description or explanation. For example, qualitative data would include data obtained from interviews, questionnaires, and focus groups.

Qualitative data gives a full interpretation of what happened according to the observer’s experiences. As with reading a book, if the author gives a detailed account, one can put themselves at that moment in time. However, if the person recording leaves out pertinent information, the wrong conclusion could be drawn. The same applies if the recorder is biased in the situation, his explanations of the account may lean to one side of the story. Quantitative data is numbers. This would be statistics, like norms, p-values, means, and medians.

It’s important to have both because hard numbers are very objective and “don’t lie” so to speak, whereas qualitative data could give very rich explanations for why the numbers are the way they are. Quantitative data allows us to analyze more easily. For example, test scores, graphs, and measurements allow us to come to logical conclusions. However, it lacks the richness of detail that qualitative data gives as it doesn’t have that emotional connection to compare. Scientific Theory Construction and Testing

Psychologists propose theories about the nature of behavior and mental processes, and why people and animals behave and think the way they do. A psychological theory can be developed on different levels; for example, the theory can either be developed on a physiological or on a symbolic level (see Anderson, 1990; Simon, 1992). A physiologically-based theory of schizophrenia would propose biological causes such as specific genetic carriers. A theory developed on a symbolic level would more likely propose psychological causes such as patterns of emotional conflict or stress.

It would also be possible for a theory of schizophrenia to include both biological and psychological causes. The propositions contained in theories may be expressed as verbal statements, as mathematical equations, or as computer programs. Scientific theories provide a valuable service by presenting a logical organization of the individual findings and identifying the important relationships among the findings. In addition to providing a logical organization for a set of research findings, scientific theories guide research by suggesting testable hypotheses.

Conclusion Immeasurable numbers of questions have been asked about the world in which society questions, and many ways can go about answering them. Although several methods are reviewed in the context of this paper, this is no single research methods. Social science generally has welcomed the contribution of a constantly expanding number of scientists from varying and ever-changing backgrounds. With such instant access to so much information in society today, developing theories and hypotheses continue to be revalued.

Much of psychology is a matter of testing disconnected, intuitive hypotheses. One may view psychology as fragmented, with a particularly large division between humanistic applied psychology and a highly complex biological psychology. A solution to this issue is a unifying theory, one that avoids the apparent obvious extremes. References Anderson, J. R. (1990). The adaptive character of thought. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. James, W. (1890/ 1950).

The Principles of Psychology (vol. I). New York, Dover. Retrieved May 12, 2008, from http://www. questia. com/read/98522045 title=Psychology%3a%20A%20V ery%20Short%20Introduction Marx, M. H. (1963). The general nature of theory construction. In M. H. Marx (Ed. ), Theories in contemporary psychology (pp. 4–46). New York: Macmillan. Oxford English Dictionary (2008). Retrieved May 20, 2008 from http://dictionary. oed. com. ezproxy. apollolibrary. com/entrance. dtl Shaughnessy, J. , Zechmeister, E. , & Zechmeister, J. (2006). Research methods in psychology. New York, NY: McGraw Hill Simon, H. A. (1992). What is an “explanation” of behavior? Psychological Science, 3, 150–161.

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