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Descriptive Research Psychology with example

Descriptive Research Psychology with example
Introduction to Psychology Psychology

Descriptive Research Psychology with example

Descriptive Research Psychology example: Descriptive research is designed to create a snapshot of the current thoughts, feelings, or behavior of individuals. This section reviews three types of descriptive research: case studies, surveys, and naturalistic observation.

Three types of descriptive research in Psychology

Case studies

Sometimes the data in a descriptive research project are based on only a small set of individuals, often only one person or a single small group. These research designs are known as case studies—descriptive records of one or more individual’s experiences and behavior. Sometimes case studies involve ordinary individuals, as when developmental psychologist Jean Piaget used his observation of his own children to develop his stage theory of cognitive development. More frequently, case studies are conducted on individuals who have unusual or abnormal experiences or characteristics or who find themselves in particularly difficult or stressful situations. The assumption is that by carefully studying individuals who are socially marginal, who are experiencing unusual situations, or who are going through a difficult phase in their lives, we can learn something about human nature.

Survey

In other cases the data from descriptive research projects come in the form of a survey—a measure administered through either an interview or a written questionnaire to get a picture of the beliefs or behaviors of a sample of people of interest. The people chosen to participate in the research (known as the sample) are selected to be representative of all the people that the researcher wishes to know about (the population). In election polls, for instance, a sample is taken from the population of all “likely voters” in the upcoming elections.

The results of surveys may sometimes be rather mundane, such as “Nine out of ten doctors prefer Tymenocin,” or “The median income in Montgomery County is $36,712.” Yet other times (particularly in discussions of social behavior), the results can be shocking: “More than 40,000 people are killed by gunfire in the United States every year,” or “More than 60% of women between the ages of 50 and 60 suffer from depression.” Descriptive research is frequently used by psychologists to get an estimate of the prevalence (or incidence) of psychological disorders.

Naturalistic Observation

A final type of descriptive research—known as naturalistic observation—is research based on the observation of everyday events. For instance, a developmental psychologist who watches children on a playground and describes what they say to each other while they play is conducting descriptive research, as is a biopsychologist who observes animals in their natural habitats. One example of observational research involves a systematic procedure known as the strange situation, used to get a picture of how adults and young children interact. The data that are collected in the strange situation are systematically coded in a coding sheet.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Descriptive Research in Psychology

What are the strengths and weaknesses of descriptive research? See below:

Strengths of Descriptive Research:

  • Study participants are questioned or observed in a natural setting (e.g., their homes, child care or educational settings).
  • Study data can be used to identify the prevalence of particular problems and the need for new or additional services to address these problems.
  • Descriptive research may identify areas in need of additional research and relationships between variables that require future study. Descriptive research is often referred to as “hypothesis generating research.”
  • Depending on the data collection method used, descriptive studies can generate rich datasets on large and diverse samples.

Limitations of Descriptive Research:

  • Descriptive studies cannot be used to establish cause and effect relationships.
  • Respondents may not be truthful when answering survey questions or may give socially desirable responses.
  • The choice and wording of questions on a questionnaire may influence the descriptive findings.
  • Depending on the type and size of sample, the findings may not be generalizable or produce an accurate description of the population of interest.

Examples of descriptive research in Psychology

Descriptive research in Psychology can be used in the following situations:

  • When defining the characteristics of respondents
  • When analyzing trends in data
  • When comparing different groups
  • When validating existing patterns of respondents
  • When conducting research at different times
  • When finding correlations amongst variables

Sources

https://www.formpl.us/blog/descriptive-research

https://www.voxco.com/blog/descriptive-research/

https://www.researchconnections.org/research-tools/study-design-and-analysis/descriptive-research-studies

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