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

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Psychology in the 21st century

3.8 Summary

  • Because the subject matter of psychology (ourselves and non-human animals) is complex and reactive, psychologists have to choose from amongst a wide range of methods.

  • Psychologists make use of methods that aim to maximise objectivity; they also use methods that focus on and explore subjectivities and meanings.

  • Depending on the topic they are researching, psychologists can choose to adopt an outsider viewpoint or an insider viewpoint.

  • During the research process, psychologists collect data and use it to arrive at evidence for their claims. Four different types of data are used by psychologists from different paradigms: behavioural data; personal accounts of inner experiences; material data such as biological and neuropsychological data; and symbolic data.

  • The research process starts by isolating a sufficiently specific and answerable question. In some studies it then involves choosing an appropriate method(s) which will provide data to test the claim or the hypothesis underlying the research.

  • Some research projects do not begin with a specific question or a specific hypothesis but are about understanding meanings.

  • The most commonly used psychological methods are experiments, questionnaires, interviews, psychological tests, observations, and meaning and language-based methods.

  • Psychological research is conducted within a paradigm – a framework made up of assumptions about the subject matter and ways it should be studied, the methods and data that are considered to be legitimate.

  • Contemporary psychologists work in different paradigms: the doing of psychology within a given paradigm will be referred to in this book as a psychological perspective.

  • Ethical issues are a major factor in psychological investigations and practice.


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