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Role of Research in Psychology Essay


Research is essential in psychology because it helps in understanding peoples’ feelings, thoughts and emotions. When researching, a scientific method is needed so that there will be validity in the collected data or the whole research itself. According to Dewey’s Scientific Method, researching involves several steps. The basic steps are; identify and define the problem, determine the hypotheses why research is needed, collect and analyze data gathered, formulate conclusion, and apply conclusion. Primary and secondary data are needed in the course of the process. Primary data is collected through interviews or surveys. It answers the new research question directly. Secondary data is used in other research and used again in another. It is less costly and less time-consuming. The role of statistics in psychological research or any other research is to measure data obtained.

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            Psychology is a branch of science that deals with the cognitions, the emotions and the behavior of a person. It has five goals in understanding people’s emotions, behaviors and cognitions. The first goal is objectively observing behavior then describing it. After describing it, psychologist goes through the process of explaining what had transpired. After explaining what had happened, psychologist can now predict what will happen in the future, since past behavior can be a future behavior. Control over the matter will now be easy because of what had been observed, had been explained and had been predicted. When control is present, it should be towards positive behavior.

            To understand psychology to the fullest, one should conduct research. Research in psychology is essential because it helps psychologist understand individuals’ feelings, thoughts and actions. With research, psychologists are able to categorize psychological disorders. If these are categorized, they are able to understand it and analyze its symptoms and its impact to other people and to the society. This also provides understanding on how relationships, interactions, development, family, school, friends, religion and others affect individuals and society. Additionally, it also helps people to develop effective treatment for the development of quality of life.

            There are several types of scientific method in order to assess one’s feelings, thoughts and actions. Naturalistic observation is the simplest form of research. It involves observation in natural environment. It provides qualitative data. However, the one being observed can alter their behavior, same as the researchers can alter their observation. Another type is case study. It includes psychological testing, interview and application of observation. Although it is time consuming, it can provide extensive qualitative and quantitative data. Next, survey provides large amount of information in a short period of time. Correlational studies provide understanding on relationship; if there is a relationship, where will the relationship lead, and how strong the relationship is. Lastly, psychological testing utilizes testing to gather information (Psychology 101, 2004).

            Research needs scientific method to gain validity of data. Research uses scientific method to organize structure and attempt to gain knowledge. Scientific steps vary depending on research being done. The basic scientific method (Dewey’s Scientific Method) in doing research includes: identification and defining what the problem is; determining the hypotheses why research is needed or reason why the problem exists; collection and analyzation of data gathered; formulation of conclusion; and lastly, application of the conclusion to the original hypotheses (Research Methods, 2004)

            Primary data in research is the data or samples used or collected during the course of the data gathering or researching. It also pertains to the results of the research. Secondary data, on the other hand, pertains to the data originally collected for a different research but used again for a new research question.

            Primary data includes subjects like demographics (age, sex, income, etc.), lifestyle characteristics, attitude, knowledge, intentions, motivations and behavior (Research Methods and Processes, 2006).  It can be collected in field or in laboratory. It can be collected by means of survey or questionnaire. Secondary data is generally less costly and less time consuming in comparison with the collection of the primary data. It is typically gathered before the primary data. Secondary data also help in determining the course in which the primary data is pursued. Example of secondary data is when a researcher uses a data from the Census. It can also be used as background information on specific research and answers specific research question. Unlike primary data, secondary data does not answer new research question sufficiently. Secondary data is available widely because of the development and accessibility of information technology.

            Another fundamental in research used for validity is the role of statistics. Statistics is a branch of applied mathematics consists of univariate and multivariate procedures. The role of statistics in psychological research or any other research is to describe concise data in terms of shape, central tendency and dispersing simple frequency distribution and to make decision about the properties of the statistical populations on the basis of statistics (Chow, 2002).

            Univariate procedure is used in psychology to measure single variable and multivariate procedure is used in measuring multiple variables. Multivariate procedure in needed to discover relationship between two or more variables, to obtain test statistics and/or to extract factors or latent variables (Chow, 2002).


All Psych Online and Heffner Media Group Inc. (2004). Psychology 101. Retrieved January 10, 2008 from http://allpsych.com/psychology101/experiment.html

All Psych Online and Heffner Media Group Inc. (2004). Research Methods. Retrieved January 10, 2008 from http://allpsych.com/researchmethods/introduction.html

Chow, S.L. (2002). Statistics and Its Role in Psychological Research. Methods in Psychological Research, p. 1-2. Retrieved January 8, 2008 from http://cogprints.org/2782/1/EOLSSsta.pdf

Thompson Gale. (2006). Research Methods and Processes. Retrieved January 8, 2008 from             http://www.referenceforbusiness.com/management/Pr-Sa/Research-Methods-and-            Processes.html


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