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Research Methods

Lesson 11

Introduction to Interviews Methods & Techniques Produced by


Laboratory Field Experimental Quantitative Natural Research Method

Non-experimental Qualitative

Observations Correlation Surveys Surveysand andInterviews Interviews Case Studies


Key Terms Social Desirability • The tendency of humans to present themselves in the best possible light. Responses to questionnaires may be influenced by this tendency. There is a difference between what people say they do and what in fact they do!


Non- experimental investigations in Psychology • In non-experimental research the IV is not deliberately manipulated by the researcher. • In non-experimental methods psychologists are able to study behaviour in their natural settings or environment. • There are some disadvantages using nonexperimental methods. One of them is that levels of control are reduced compared to experimental methods & the researcher cannot draw a definite conclusion concerning cause & effect.


Introduction to Interviews • In most research approaches a distance exists between researcher and participant. • In this approach the researcher is challenged by a face to face approach which is both personal & public. • In order for this approach to be successful the researcher needs to notify the interviewee of the explicit aims & purpose of the research. • Interviews need to be carefully planned and piloted


Types of Interviews Structured Interviews • By structured we mean questions are prepared in advance and these interviews are usually designed with the aim of producing quantitative data. • Because of the above they are similar to the experimental approach as the researcher determines the focus.


Advantages of Structured Interviews • Interviewer & interviewee are less likely to deviate from the topic that is at focus. • Data analysis are simpler compared to other interview methods. • Results are easier to generalise. • Less training is needed for interviewers. • Smaller risk of interviewer bias since the interviewer is more likely to be objective.


Disadvantages of Structured Interviews • Researcher cannot follow any new lines of enquiry during the process of the interview. • The validity of the research may be threatened by formality of the approach.


Unstructured Interviews • These types of interviews are less rigid. • One or two questions are planned in advance & further questions are raised as the interview progresses. • These types of interviews are difficult to analyse. • They have greater validity. • Interviewees usually report what they wish to say & interviewers are flexible in their approach.


Semi-structured interviews • Reported as being the most successful approach. • Some of the questions are planned by the interviewer but allowing interviewees to expand on their answers. • This diverse approach requires skilled personnel.


Advantages of Interviews Flexibility • The interview method allows researchers to investigate issues that are difficult to conduct using experimental methods, questionnaires or through observation. • Questions can be tailored to obtain in depth information. Tackling Sensitive Issues • This approach allows researchers identify personal & public behaviours.


Disadvantages of Interviews Interpreting Data • Partial and even total misinterpretation of data may take place. • Ideally the interviewer needs to be detached from interviewee but because of the face to face approach in interviews this may become difficult to achieve. • Qualitative data from interviews can be difficult to analyse.


Limitations in interviewees response • Interviewees may be unable to explain their thoughts clearly. • Because of the presence of the interviewer -this could lead to demand characteristics.


Ethical Issues • The privacy & psychological well being of the interviewee needs to be considered. • Obtaining full consent and informing participants of their right to withdraw. • Maintaining confidentiality and anonymity. • Protect participants from harm. • Debriefing & support for possible distress experienced by interviewees.


Key Points • Psychologists are interested in asking questions, and interviews allow them to this. • The questions asked can be categorised as either open or closed response questions. • Open questions produce qualitative data that is rich in detail. • Fixed or closed response questions produce quantitative data that allows for statistical analysis.


• Interviews have the advantages of producing richer detail (if open questions are used), and allowing new lines of enquiry to be followed up allowing clarification of how the interviewee has understood the question.


Examiners Note • You may be asked in the exam to construct a question that will yield qualitative data – an easy way of doing this is to ask an open ‘explain’ question. • A question that allows the respondent to elaborate on their reasons for something will by its nature bring about qualitative data.


• Alternatively if you are asked to construct a question that will yield quantitative data - then limit the responses to the question and state that this allows you to calculate the numbers of people who gave a particular response to the questions. • This enables one to collect numerical data or quantitative data that can be easily analysed.


Research Methods - Interviews