Research Designs

Chapter Author: Christie Napa Scollon

Psychologists test research questions using a variety of methods. Most research relies on either correlations or experiments. With correlations, researchers measure variables as they naturally occur in people and compute the degree to which two variables go together. With experiments, researchers actively make changes in one variable and watch for changes in another variable. Experiments allow researchers to make causal inferences. Other types of methods include longitudinal and quasi-experimental designs. Many factors, including practical constraints, determine the type of methods researchers use. Often researchers survey people even though it would be better, but more expensive and time consuming, to track them longitudinally.

Learning Objectives

Type your learning objectives here.

  • Articulate the difference between correlational and experimental designs.

  • Understand how to interpret correlations.

  • Understand how experiments help us to infer causality.

  • Understand how surveys relate to correlational and experimental research.

  • Explain what a longitudinal study is.

  • List a strength and weakness of different research designs.

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