Methods in psychology and its Advantages and Disadvantages

Methods in Psychology with examples

In a structured language the term ‘method’ is used must be followed to lead the discovery of truth ;system of procedures, orderliness and conscious regularity. Method is a wider term than technique. Every science employs methods deferent according to its subject matter. If the subject matter changes so do the methods. methods changes to its subject matte Psychology is the science of behavior. Psychologists use variety of methods to gain knowledge about behavior.

Behavior includes inner processes and experiences along with external and overt activities. Inner processes cannot be handled with instruments. So psychology uses introspection method. If we want to investigate the role of motivation in learning, we may elect to a laboratory study using experimental method. If we want to study mob behavior we would probably use objective observation


methods of psychology


1.  Experimental Method

When a psychologist observes the behavior as it happens, it is called observation. But when without waiting for the experience or behavior to happen naturally, he prepares and controls the conditions under which it is supposed to happen and then observes it this is called an experiment. The person who performs the experiment is called the experimenter and the individual on whom the experiment is performed is called the subject.

Steps in Psychological Experiment

1. Definition of the problem: What is the problem and what is the hypothesis which he wants to verify (tentative answer to the problem)? The experimenter should know clearly what factors to control and what to change and what changes to observe.
2. Selecting the subject: People on whom the experiment is to be performed.
3. Setting the material: Setting up various instruments which will be used for observation and experimentation.
4. Instructions to the subject: To tell what he is supposed to do.
5. Procedure: How the experiment will start within experiment and what procedure will be adopted.
6. Recording: Observing the responses of the subject.
7. Retrospective Report: Getting-retrospective report (How he felt during actual conduction of experiment) of the subject.
8. Analysis of the data: Analyzing the data obtained and interpreting it.
9. Result and Discussion: Arriving at a certain conclusion or the collection and then finding various results.
10. Conclusion: Verifying the conclusions.

An Example of a Psychological Experiment

In a well-known psychological experiment, the aim is to discover how many separate
letters can be read by a person in a single glance. The experimenter arranges
a card with number of letters on it. It is shown to the subject for exactly one half of a second:
he tells the subject to read out the letters as soon as he sees them and when the subject does so the experimenter counts the number of letters read out, checks their accuracy and notes if there are any signs of hesitation or excitement in the subject’s manners. On the other hand, subject reads out letters as many as he can and afterwards reports what was going on in his mind during the course of experiment. The experiment is technically known as ‘the span of apprehension test.’

2. Introspection Method

Introspection is the oldest method of studying psychology. It was borrowed from philosophy in ancient times when psychology was not an independent and separate subject of study but was fused with philosophy. Introspection means self-observation. Or subjective observation. The word literally means looking within or looking into mind. Here a subject reports his own inner experience.

He looks inside his mind and sees as to what and reports. In introspection, the  happens in a particular event mind is watched by Suppose, we have to study the This problem can be studied  by Mind introspection in an problem of anger. angry mood, i.e. the individual will observe, analyses and doing own feeling and in fact all that happens report When a person looks inside in his mind during the course of mental his one’s inner experience and reports process  what one finds taking place in the mind, i.e., called the process of introspection. In it, the to be watches his own behavior.

Person for introspection, complete concentration on one’s own and self-consciousness is also essential. experience is Adequate mental development required animals and abnormal individuals may not introspect adequately because children they mentally immature. Are There is only one individual about whom I know directly and that is my own make generalization about the behavior Self of other in the light of my own experience. way this method is quite good. Introspection is an ‘Arm That does not need any apparatus and Chair Method” of philosophy involves only thinking and thinking. As in early days of psychology, introspection was regarded as the chief Source information about experience.

Introspection Method: Its Advantages

  1. Introspection is the simplest and most economical of all the does not require any apparatus or help from other persons.
  2. Introspection can be carried out at all time and places. You the class, if ever you are interested to know you are sitting in moment, just look it side and you own feelings at that very will be able to know your feeling. No need of specific time and places are required to introspection.
  3. This is the suitable method of example, collection of data in certain fields. For when we are under the
    state there is no other influence of certain emotions in that alternative but to depend up on introspection.
    Efforts of higher spiritual experiences can only be investigated through this method because other methods fail.
  4.   Introspection suggests new problems to the teacher and parents. Supposing a teacher has read a certain books on mental health, i.e., what are mental conflicts and how we can resolve these mental conflicts. The teacher after reading his book finds that this book has brought significant change in his habits and helped him to make adjustment.

Introspection Method: Its Disadvantages

Previously, psychology was defined as the study of consciousness. At that time, introspection was the only method at our disposal to study the behavior of human beings. But introspection has failed as a scientific method for the following reasons:
1.  It is concerned with one’s own mind only and; therefore, thought it, we can never know what is true of mind in general.

2.This  method can be employed by the capable adults only, self-consciousness and mental maturity is required for self-observation. Therefore,  children, insane person and lower animals are unable to
introspect. Introspection fails to study the behavior of these individuals because they are not fully mature. To study their minds, therefore, we have to use the methods of external observation of behavior.

3. By introspection we cannot get the knowledge of what lies below consciousness; as our sub-conscious and unconscious mental processes are beyond the reach of introspection.

4.The most our serious drawback of introspection is that no sooner do we turn attention to a mental process it alters. Mental process is processes and not things. They never stand still to be observed; they always flow and flicker and are never steady. The moment we attend to our anger. It becomes less and even if it does not disappear altogether, it is greatly changed. Thus, if the observer says to himself, “I am angry. Must observe this state carefully, every calmness deliberation necessary to such observation will inevitably dissipate the anger. The business of introspection is almost like trying to switch on the light quickly to see what the darkness looks like.

5.  Introspection means to know one’s own mind. To know also we require mind. Now, how can our mind do two things at the same time? How can it do the task of observing and yet be the object of observation at the same
time? Introspection requires our mind to divide itself into the ‘knower at the “known’ at the same time which is impossible.

6.  Before observing mental processes, they must occur. If an individual want to know what he feels when he is in angry state, he must be angry first.

7.  Psychological changes are so much automatic that they never come in our consciousness. Various physical actions like, respiration heart beating are so much automatic that they escape introspection.

8. Introspection makes psychology a subjective science. Everybody sees the situation from his personal point of view, as we say everybody sees the world through his own colored glasses. Similarly, with the help of introspection one observes one’s own behavior and, therefore, subjective element cannot be eradicated.

9.  It does not lead to universal generalization. Information collected from a single individual is insufficient to formulate even a working hypothesis.

Sufficient has been said to reveal the difficulties of introspection. Tichener,
however, has suggests  that through retrospection and  we can overcome of the major difficulties of introspection method.

3. Observation Method

We live in the world of human beings, who behave every moment. Thus we have opportunities of examine their responses to the stimuli in the environment e.g. observation of their limbs, their facial expression, heart, oxygen consumption, brains collection of waves etc. The method which is applied for the data without arranging the situation and without the aid of instruments is called observation! It is regulated perception because we look at the thing closely and attentively. As behavior of human beings is considerably changed in controlled situations, this method should be preferred wherever possible. But observation without the aid of any device may be incomplete So a number of methods have been devised to make observation  more objective and scientific.

For example, such observations can be made in room fitted with an opaque glass screen into the wall  so that people inside the room cannot see what is happening outside They are then observed from behind and screen, but they are not aware of the presence of the observer. For recording the data to be collected, we may again make use of instruments.  A tape recorder may be used for recording the sound and a moving camera may be used for taking the motion picture of actions of the people being observed. But so long as behavior is observed under natural setting, it may be regarded as observation because this lacks the essential features of an experiment. Observation is of two kinds:

Controlled and Uncontrolled: Controlled observation implies some the situation. It is also called experimental observation. Uncontrolled control called naturalistic observation.

Many social and other behavior are to be social and other forms of are to be investigated behaving cannot be brought in as they occur. There are many psychological phenomena which cannot be brought in the laboratory and there are some, if they occur in laboratory, they would be greatly distorted. In such cases, observation is the only method of study.

The method of observation consists of observing the behavior of knowing their experiences. The external behavior is watched, others recorded and interpreted, this method consists of simply observing the outward looks, and sounds, movements and actions of other persons or gestures. animals and inferring their processes from their appearances. By observing the gestures and red face  of a mental we can infer that he is angry because these are outward symptoms which person, themselves in the case of our own anger. In this case, the observant manifest observe behavior as it takes place naturally i.e., without his arrangements to produce it.

Supposing, we are interested in knowing how animals behave, what sort of social or sexual relations they have got, we will have to get to the jungle to study animals Without making our presence known to the animals, we would observe their social relations. But before doing this observations, we should get sufficient training for recording the observation. Similarly, in the study of many problems like crowd behavior. mob behavior and riot behavior, we find observation as a very effective method of
An investigate to make his observation effective, should keep the following mind:
I. His observation should be planned rather than being haphazard.

2. He should prepare a suitable questionnaire, i.e., he should keep before him the questions for which he is going to seek answers. Through this way he will not waste his time and energy on irrelevant things.

3. He should equip himself with various instruments like a moving camera, a tape  recorder, etc. to observed minute details.

4. He should observe the problem in its natural setting and  should be free from preconceived ideas regarding the problem.

5.  He should not make his presence felt to the subject (subject is a person from whom the information is gathered) lest the latter becomes conscious of the observer and change his behavior.

Observation method: Its Advantages  observation

1.  It is more scientific than introspection as it does not depend upon the subjective data.

2.  One mind cannot look into another mind. Nor depending upon introspection alone, one mind can believe that other mind also exists. Thus, the method of external observation is indispensable because we have to understand other minds besides our mind and this can only be done through observation.

3.  It is objective and personal prejudices have little place in it. It is by means of this method that we arrive at general conclusions about all minds through finding certain forms of behavior which are subject to same conditions and laws in us as well as others.

4. It is more reliable and valid than introspection as the same act may be observed by  several observers at the same time and the final result may be obtained by comparing the results.

5. Animal psychology and child psychology which attempt to understand and trace the development in lower animals and children respectively owe their material entirely to the merits of objective observation.

6. It is used to study the experience of others. It studies the actual behavior and is not the reflection of what he thinks of himself or what others think of him but studies what he actually is.

7.  It is adaptable both to the individual and the group.  You can observe one person as well as more than one at the same time.

Observation Method: Its Disadvantages

1.Observation is a difficult task. It has become a highly specialized skill an so requires experienced and trained observers. All the individuals cannot observe. Only the competent individuals can do it effectively. Observation
by inexperienced persons will lead to wrong results.

2.  All the problems of psychology cannot be studied by this method alone behavior of human beings. For example, you cannot observe the sex is with the help of introspection that you
will  come  to know about sexual  experiences.

3. It is not free from subjective element as it seems to be. Though the observer tries his best to observe this situation objectively still the personal likes and dislikes of the observer color or bias the investigation. The personal prejudices, notions and whims of the observer do effect observations.

4. It reveals the external behavior, the behavior which is expressed externally. We do not know what is going on within. The causes underlying the manifest behavior are also not known.

5. To find out true feelings of the individuals from his over behavior or external behavior is too difficult because most of the individuals are Hippocrates. They pose more and do not disclose their true feelings.

6.  As in many cases observations are recorded afterwards, complete accuracy of information may suffer.

7. For observation we have to wait for the situation to occur. If the situation does not occur we cannot observe, for example, for observing the feelings of an angry person we have to wait till he becomes angry and only then we can observe.

4. Survey method

Survey Method In psychology introspection is the oldest method of studying one’s own behavior. Observation and experimental methods are also very objective and famous methods for deriving conclusions. But now a days as the social psychology is becoming very popular among new researchers and psychologist. Therefore, survey method is also useful for taking direct information from the public. In Chandigarh city news line gives various survey reports on current issues almost daily which gives latest information to readers about the current trends on any specific area.

Various steps involved in survey method are following:

1. Selection of the area in which the survey is to be made.
2. Selection of sample in which the survey is to be done.
3. Selection of the field/spot for conducting survey.
4. Media of the survey for example-verbal interview, questionnaire of yes/no type rating scales.
5. Write up from the selected sample.
6. Compiling the survey results.
7. Conclusions drawn from the results.
8. Future predictions on the basis of results.

Advantages of Survey Method

1. Psychologists use this method for the real world conclusions which means directly going to the practical field and getting first hand  accurate information.

2. In some laboratory studies it is often possible to disguise the true purpose of the experiment from the subjects but they almost always know that they are in an experiment. Therefore their natural behavior changes and the findings becomes little bit different. Therefore Survey method is best for getting right information.

3. Some studies are only conducted by survey method, because the field cannot be manipulated in laboratory settings.

4. In field survey subjects are not aware that somebody is observing their behavior. Therefore responses are very true due to natural circumstances.

5. Some processes operate over a longer period of time than is typically available to a laboratory researcher. For example, the progress of psychotherapy, the language development in children and the dynamics of a group. These techniques need long process and can be predicted only after periodic survey.

6. Some time to explain many are ideas and generate new possibilities survey conducted before experimentation. Here this method becomes a supportive method for experimentation.

Disadvantages of Survey Method

1. Firstly, if the untrained individual collects the reports. The opinion will be quite unreliable.

2. Secondly sometimes personal bias also comes in the way of data of the data is again not confirmed in collection. Accuracy of the data this case.

3. Survey reports has to be done again and again for the latest trends. This means the results are valid only for short duration.

4. Sometimes mail survey reports are not returned by the respondents
which is again a wastage of money and time.

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