Method Primary Feature Main Advantages Main Disadvantages
Case Studies An 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 depth Poor method for establishing cause-effect relations.  The person or event may not be representative.  Often relies heavily on the researcher’s subjective interpretations
Naturalistic Observation Behaviour is observed in the setting in which it naturally occurs Can provide detailed info about the nature, frequency, and context of naturally occurring behaviours Poor method for establishing cause-effect relations.  Observer’s presence, if known, may influence participants’ behaviour
Surveys Questions or tests are administered to a sample drawn from a larger population A properly selected, representative sample typically yields accurate info about the broader population Unrepresentative samples can provide misleading info about the population.  Interviewer bias and social desirability bias can distort findings
Correlational Studies Variables are measured and the strength of the association between them is calculated.  Naturalistic observation and surveys also are often used to examine associations between variables Correlation 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 experiments Correlation 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)
Experiments Independent variables are manipulated and their effects on dependent variables are measured The optimal method for examining cause-effect relations.  The ability to control extraneous factors helps rule out alternative explanations Confounding 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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