Psychology in the 21st century
Psychology in the 21st century

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Psychology in the 21st century

2.3 A brief look at different kinds of data

For a long time there has been a very important argument about what are the ‘legitimate data’ of psychology – what can and should be used as evidence. We have already seen that, from the very beginnings of psychology as a formal discipline, psychologists have used experimental methods, observations and introspection. In one form or another these methods continue to be central to psychology. The experimental method, adapted from traditional science, has most consistently been considered the dominant psychological method, providing data which can be ‘seen from the outside’ (outsider viewpoint) without recourse to introspection or people's own accounts of their mental states (insider viewpoint). However, as the research questions asked by psychologists have changed over time, research methods have broadened to include a range of different methods that produce different kinds of data. Outsider viewpoints gained from experiments and observations and insider viewpoints from introspection, interviews and analyses of what people say (and how they say it) all flourish as part of psychology in the twenty-first century. What are the legitimate data of a multi-perspective psychology? What can different kinds of data usefully bring to psychology?

A simple scheme can be used that divides the varieties of data into four categories.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371