MethodPrimary FeatureMain AdvantagesMain Disadvantages
Case StudiesAn individual, group, or event is examined in detail, often using several techniques (Ex. Observation, interview, psychological test)Provides rich descriptive info, often suggesting hypotheses for further study. Can study rare phenomena in depthPoor method for establishing cause-effect relations.  The person or event may not be representative.  Often relies heavily on the researcher’s subjective interpretations
Naturalistic ObservationBehaviour is observed in the setting in which it naturally occursCan provide detailed info about the nature, frequency, and context of naturally occurring behavioursPoor method for establishing cause-effect relations.  Observer’s presence, if known, may influence participants’ behaviour
SurveysQuestions or tests are administered to a sample drawn from a larger populationA properly selected, representative sample typically yields accurate info about the broader populationUnrepresentative samples can provide misleading info about the population.  Interviewer bias and social desirability bias can distort findings
Correlational StudiesVariables are measured and the strength of the association between them is calculated.  Naturalistic observation and surveys also are often used to examine associations between variablesCorrelation allows prediction.  May help establish how well findings from experiments generalize to more natural settings.  Can examine issues that cannot be studied ethically or practically in experimentsCorrelation does not imply causation, due to bidirectional causality problem (possible that X caused Y, Y caused X, or both influenced each other) and third variable problem (X may have been caused by Z)
ExperimentsIndependent variables are manipulated and their effects on dependent variables are measuredOptimal method for examining cause-effect relations.  Ability to control extraneous factors helps rule out alternative explanationsConfounding of variables (cannot tell which it is). variable influenced the dep. variable), demand characteristics (cues), placebo effects (expectations), and experimenter expectancies can threaten the validity of causal conclusions

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2 Comments on "Methods of Data Collection in Psychology: Pros & Cons"

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deborah
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the information was educative

B. MOTOANE
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what about the questioner?

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