Psychological research is benefiting from advances in neuroimaging techniques. This has been achieved through the validation and falsification of established hypothesis in psychological science (Cacioppo, Berntson, & Nusbaum, 2008). It has also helped nurture links with neuroscience, leading to more comprehensive explanations of established theories. Positron Emission Tomography (PET), functional MRI (fMRI), structural MRI (sMRI), electroencephalography (EEG), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and numerous other lesser-known neuroimaging techniques can provide information complimentary to behavioural data (Wager, 2006). With these modalities of research becoming more prevalent, ranging from investigating the neural effects of mindfulness training to neuro-degeneration, it is worth taking a moment to highlight some points to help discern what may be good or poor research. Like any other methodology, neuroimaging is a great tool that can be used poorly. As with all areas of science, one must exercise a good degree of caution when reading neuroimaging papers. Continue reading
There is a revolution in statistics happening: The Bayesian revolution. Psychology students who are interested in research methods (which I hope everyone is!) should know what this revolution is about. Gaining this knowledge now instead of later might spare you lots of misconceptions about statistics as it is usually instructed in psychology, and it might help you gain a deeper understanding of the foundations of statistics. To make sure that you can try out everything you learn immediately, I conducted analysis in the free statistics software R (www.r-project.org; click HERE for a tutorial how to get started with R, and install RStudio for an enhanced R-experience) and I provide the syntax for the analysis directly in the article so you can easily try them out. So let’s jump in: What is “Bayesian Statistics”, and why do we need it? Continue reading
Ethical boards are in place to evaluate the ethical feasibility of a study by weighing the possible negative effects against the possible positive effects of the research project (Barret, 2006). When designing your research project, it could be that you need to apply for ethical approval. This is a challenging task as there are strict guidelines to abide to when drawing up a proposal. This is where your supervisor can help – with their experience, they have a clear idea of what would be accepted for someone applying for ethical approval for an undergraduate or master study. There is a great importance to abiding by ethics, in research and in practice.The importance lies in the fact that care is taken for the participant, researcher and wider society. It creates a filter for good standard of research with as minimal harm being done as possible. Continue reading
Every scientific discipline is determined by the object of measurement and the selection of appropriate methods of data collection and statistical analysis. Faulty methodology can lead to incorrect information in the results, without the researcher being aware of this. Taking incorrect knowledge as correct into account while conducting further research has far-reaching negative consequences. One of these errors present, to some degree, in every single research is bias. It is a particularly dangerous one, because it usually goes undetected by the researcher. But if you are aware of its threat there are ways to avoid it. In research, it occurs when systematic error is introduced into sampling or testing by selecting or encouraging one outcome or answer over others. It comes in numerous ways and forms. The rest of this post will focus on causes of bias in the field of gender studies.
This post will talk about the pros and cons of a few selected providers of online survey services and may help you find the best survey service provider for your research purposes. With the information given in this post, your future data collections will become much easier due to the overview of survey providers for quantitative research you will receive. After giving you an insight into the diversity of survey tools and the general features they provide, four of the best featured and most frequently used survey tool providers will be presented in greater detail.
Psychology is defined to students as the scientific study of human behaviour. However, when the American Psychological Association surveyed 1,000 adult members of the public, 70% did not agree with the statement, ‘psychology attempts to understand the way people behave through scientific research’ (Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates, 2008, p. 29). Lay people deny, what is to those within psychology, an undeniable fact: that psychology aims to test theory-grounded hypotheses in an objective, replicable and empirical manner – and is therefore scientific. Recently, psychologists have investigated the reasons for such a divide between expert and novice views of the field. In doing so, they have uncovered how lay people evaluate whether a subject deserves the scientific stamp of approval. Continue reading
Imagine a task that is simple for a human and difficult for a computer. For example, recognizing if a photograph contains a cat or a dog is a straightforward task even for a few months old child (Quinn & Eimas, 1996), but extremely difficult, if not impossible, for a computer (Shotton et al., 2006) because the two are quite similar in terms of shape. In order to capitalize on human’s superiority over computers in some kind of tasks, Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) came up with a platform called Amazon Mechanical Turk (https://www.mturk.com/mturk/welcome), where it is possible to ask human workers to complete HITs – Human Intelligence Tasks.
Many psychology students find themselves in a situation where their research did not yield any significant results. This can be immensely frustrating since they have put a lot of time and effort into designing the study, as well as in collecting and analyzing the data. In some cases, be it out of desperation or pressure to publish interesting findings, certain students will effectively “hunt” for results by conducting statistical tests on all possible variable combinations. For instance, after noticing that a hypothesized correlation between two variables proved to be non-significant, a student might create a correlation matrix of all continuous variables of her study and hope for at least one pair to be significantly related to each other. Other students might include one, two, or even more covariates in their analysis of variance (turning it into an ANCOVA), thereby hoping that the interaction they initially hypothesized between their key factors will become significant.
The overarching point of this article will be to convey that behavioural psychology may be out-of-fashion, but still has many things to contribute to modern psychology.
All science is ultimately born of philosophy (see Pepper, 1942) and therefore there is no reason why this science should play second fiddle to any other. However, in the rat race to make strides in the science of behaviour, principles of science are often discarded in favour of convenience. The dominant school of thought in psychology at present is cognitivism. This school adopts a predominantly top-down approach to psychology. This involves simplifying phenomena into their perceived component parts, in order to study them. This phenomenon may constitute a set back for the way research is conducted and human behavior ultimately conceptualized. Allow me to illustrate why this is a problem.
The topic of this bulletin arose from a talk given by Dr. Anna Bagnoli, who had used a variety of visual methods in addition to verbal interviews in order to holistically study young people’s identities. Intrigued by the question of how such data could be collected and analysed to contribute to understandings of psychological topics, the author of this post recently carried out an interview with Dr. Bagnoli on behalf of the Open University Psychological Society (Rouse, 2013). In this bulletin post the author will share what she has learnt from this interview and by researching the use of visual methods to explore experience and meaning.