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2.1 Types of research: Descriptive, evaluative, diagnostic, and prognostic


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Descriptive research in Psychology:

  • Definition:
    • Descriptive research is a type of research that aims to describe and understand a particular phenomenon or behavior.
  • Examples:
    • Case studies: A detailed investigation of a single individual or small group of individuals.
    • Surveys: A method of collecting data by asking people questions about their attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors. Surveys can be administered in person, by phone, or online.
    • Observational studies: A method of collecting data by simply watching and recording behavior or events. There are two main types of observation: naturalistic observation and laboratory observation. Naturalistic observation involves observing behavior in a natural setting, while laboratory observation involves observing behavior in a controlled setting.
  • Goals:
    • To answer questions such as “What is happening?”, “How often does this occur?”, and “What are the characteristics of this phenomenon?”
    • To gather detailed information about a particular topic or issue.
  • Advantages:
    • Can provide a rich, in-depth understanding of a particular topic.
    • Can generate new hypotheses for further research.
    • Can be conducted in a variety of settings and with different populations.
  • Disadvantages:
    • May not be generalizable to a larger population.
    • May be subject to bias on the part of the researcher.
    • May not allow for the determination of cause and effect relationships.
  • Considerations:
    • Sampling:
      • The process of selecting a group of participants for a study.
      • It is important to consider the representativeness of the sample to ensure that the results of the study are accurate and reliable.
    • Data collection methods:
      • The tools and techniques used to gather data, such as interviews, questionnaires, and observations.
      • It is important to choose appropriate data collection methods that are suitable for the research question and the study population.
    • Data analysis:
      • The process of analyzing and interpreting the collected data.
      • It is important to use appropriate statistical techniques to accurately analyze and interpret the data.

Evaluative research in Psychology:

  • Definition:
    • Evaluative research is a type of research that aims to assess the effectiveness of a particular intervention or treatment.
  • Examples:
    • Randomized controlled trials: A type of experimental study in which participants are randomly assigned to receive a treatment or a placebo.
    • Meta-analyses: A method of combining the results of multiple studies to get a more accurate picture of the relationship between two variables. Meta-analyses are often used to evaluate the effectiveness of a particular treatment or intervention.
  • Goals:
    • To answer questions such as “Does this treatment work?”, “Is this intervention more effective than others?”, and “What are the benefits and drawbacks of this treatment?”
    • To determine the effectiveness of a particular intervention or treatment.
  • Advantages:
    • Can provide strong evidence for the effectiveness of an intervention.
    • Can control for extraneous variables that may affect the outcome of the study.
    • Can provide valuable information for making decisions about treatment.
  • Disadvantages:
    • May be costly and time-consuming to conduct.
    • May not be generalizable to a larger population.
    • May not be ethical to randomly assign participants to receive a placebo.
  • Considerations:
    • Experimental design:
      • It is important to carefully design the experiment to ensure that the results are valid and reliable.
      • This may involve controlling for extraneous variables, randomizing the assignment of participants to treatment groups, and using appropriate statistical techniques to analyze the data.
    • Sample size:
      • The size of the sample is important because it affects the statistical power of the study.
      • A larger sample size increases the power of the study and makes it more likely to detect an effect, if one exists.
    • Outcome measures:
      • It is important to choose appropriate outcome measures that are relevant to the research question and that accurately reflect the effectiveness of the intervention.
    • Ethical considerations:
      • It is important to ensure that the rights and welfare of participants are protected in evaluative research.
      • This may involve obtaining informed consent, ensuring confidentiality, and minimizing any potential risks to participants.

Diagnostic research in Psychology:

  • Definition:
    • Diagnostic research is a type of research that aims to identify and classify different types of psychological disorders or conditions.
  • Examples:
    • Development and validation of diagnostic tools and instruments: This may involve the creation of new diagnostic criteria or the evaluation of existing criteria to ensure their reliability and validity. Examples of diagnostic tools and instruments include the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).
    • Studies on the prevalence and characteristics of psychological disorders: This may involve examining the frequency of different disorders in a particular population and identifying their associated risk factors and symptoms.
  • Goals:
    • To answer questions such as “What are the symptoms of this disorder?”, “How is this disorder diagnosed?”, and “What are the most effective treatments for this disorder?”
    • To improve the accuracy and reliability of diagnostic processes and criteria.
  • Advantages:
    • Can provide important information for the accurate diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders.
    • Can improve the effectiveness of interventions by targeting the specific needs of individuals with different disorders.
    • Can inform the development of new treatments and interventions.
  • Disadvantages:
    • May be expensive and time-consuming to conduct.
    • May be subject to bias on the part of the researcher or diagnostic assessor.
    • May not be generalizable to a larger population.
  • Considerations:
    • Diagnostic criteria:
      • It is important to choose appropriate diagnostic criteria that are reliable and valid.
      • This may involve the use of standardized diagnostic tools and instruments, such as the DSM or the ICD.
    • Assessment methods:
      • The methods used to assess and diagnose individuals with psychological disorders should be reliable and valid.
      • This may involve the use of structured interviews, questionnaires, and observations.
    • Sample selection:
      • It is important to carefully select a representative sample to ensure that the results of the study are accurate and reliable.
    • Data analysis:
      • It is important to use appropriate statistical techniques to accurately analyze and interpret the data.
    • Ethical considerations:
      • It is important to ensure that the rights and welfare of participants are protected in diagnostic research.
      • This may involve obtaining informed consent, ensuring confidentiality, and minimizing any potential risks to participants.

Prognostic research in Psychology:

  • Definition:
    • Prognostic research is a type of research that aims to predict the likelihood of a particular outcome or future event.
  • Examples:
    • Studies on risk factors for developing a particular disorder: This may involve examining the relationship between different risk factors (such as genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle choices) and the likelihood of developing a particular disorder.
    • Studies on the likelihood of a positive outcome following a particular treatment: This may involve examining the relationship between different treatment variables (such as the type of treatment, duration of treatment, and adherence to treatment) and the likelihood of a positive outcome.
  • Goals:
    • To answer questions such as “What is the probability that this person will develop a particular disorder?”, “What is the likelihood of a positive outcome following a particular treatment?”, and “What are the risk factors for a particular outcome?”
    • To predict the likelihood of a particular outcome or event.
  • Advantages:
    • Can provide valuable information for decision-making and planning.
    • Can inform the development of targeted interventions and treatments.
    • Can identify potential risk factors that can be modified to reduce the likelihood of negative outcomes.
  • Disadvantages:
    • May be expensive and time-consuming to conduct.
    • May be subject to bias on the part of the researcher.
    • May not be able to accurately predict the outcome of a particular event.
  • Considerations:
    • Study design:
      • It is important to carefully design the study to ensure that the results are valid and reliable.
      • This may involve controlling for extraneous variables and using appropriate statistical techniques to analyze the data.
    • Sample selection:
      • It is important to carefully select a representative sample to ensure that the results of the study are accurate and reliable.
    • Outcome measures:
      • It is important to choose appropriate outcome measures that are relevant to the research question and that accurately reflect the likelihood of the outcome.
    • Ethical considerations:
      • It is important to ensure that the rights and welfare of participants are protected in prognostic research.
      • This may involve obtaining informed consent, ensuring confidentiality, and minimizing any potential risks to participants.
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