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Research Methods

Lesson 10

Introduction to Questionnaire Surveys 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.

Questionnaire Surveys • Surveys involve gathering data in a systematic fashion from large numbers of people by means of questionnaires. • Social Trends is an example of this approach.

What are Social Trends

• Surveys are usually carried out on selected representative groups referred to as samples so that the researcher can generalize the findings to a wider population from which the sample was drawn. • An exception to the rule is the national census which is carried in the UK every 10 years. Here every adult needs to submit their information. • Researchers use questionnaires to investigate a wide range of situations. We can investigate peoples attitudes, behaviours or intentions.

Advantages of Survey Questionnaires • One major benefit of this approach is that information from large samples can be obtained quickly , efficiently & cost effectively. • Another benefit of this approach is that the researcher does not need to be present & questionnaires can be filed on the internet, via telephone, conducted face to face or collected from a central point or station. Take Note • An important factor that needs to be remembered is that data from questionnaires can be both qualitative or quantitative.

Types of Questions Closed Questions: •

Researcher determines range of possible answers.

Response by sample is usually ticking boxes, circling or underlining answers.

Questions that require this type of response are usually factual.

These questions are easy to quantify & analyse.

Results lack realism as sample is forced into selecting only available answers.

Open Ended Questions: • Here the researcher does not restrict the range of answers available from the participant. • Open ended questions provide a greater depth of qualitative information. • Difficulty of qualitative information is that answers are more difficult to analyse because range is more wide. • Good practices for questionnaires are keeping wording short and keeping the number of questions to a minimum to avoid ambiguity.

• Other good practices are to avoid emotionally charged questions & questionnaires should be piloted before they are put to use. • Questionnaire surveys are used for a wide range of purposes – for one off situations or before & after an event to examine the impact of the event. • Questionnaires serve as a preliminary investigation or a source of in-depth information.

Advantages of Questionnaires • Simplicity – once constructed & piloted questionnaires can be carried out with minimum training. • Closed questionnaires - can be easily & quickly analysed. • Speed – response to questionnaires are low, however large amounts of information can be gathered cheaply over a short period of time.

Disadvantages of Questionnaires • Problem with question wording  Ambiguous questions are wrongly interpreted.  Leading questions may influence response.  Language interpretation difficulty – words likely ‘rarely’.  Social desirability – by this we mean staff may respond in bias way & not truthfully.

• Researcher Effects & Biases  If researcher is present when answering questions, respondents can be influenced by factors such as ethnic group & sex of researcher.  Even simple gestures & expressions by experimenter can influence response.  Researcher bias may result in wrong interpretation of answer on questionnaires.

Ethical Issues Related to Questionnaire Surveys • Privacy  Privacy & well being of respondents must be respected.  Respondents information to be treated confidentially.  If anonymity cannot be guaranteed respondents need to be warned in advance. • Consent  Full consent needs to be obtained & respondents need to be made aware of their right to withdraw from a study.

• Risk of Harm  It is the researchers responsibility to protect participants from psychological harm during an investigation.  Participants should not feel stressed or anxious because of personal questions and should be informed that their personal information need not be given.  Interpretation of research involving children needs to be considered as evaluative statements could cause distress.

• Debriefing and Support  Respondents need to be debriefed after an investigation.  Support needs to be available in case of distress experienced by respondents.

• Questionnaires have the advantage of enabling standardised procedure, reducing interpersonal variables and enabling a larger sample to be questioned.

Key Points • Psychologists are interested in asking questions, and questionnaires 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.

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 - Questionnaire Surveys