Make your own free website on

Nonexperimental Methods I: Descriptive Methods, Qualitative Research, and Correlational Studies
Experimental Psychology
Lecture, Chapter 4

Qualitative Research

Typically used in exploratory studies - to explore a person’s life, a behavioral phenomenon, a culture, or a person’s specific state or situation on a deep level.
Is more likely to be internally, but not externally, valid.
lends itself to inductive research, rather than deductive research.

Researcher Bias
One of the strongest criticisms of qualitative research is the subjectivity of the researcher, in that a researcher’s perspective can influence the way phenomena are observed and recorded.


Quantitative terms
Internal validity (accuracy of measurement)
External validity

Qualitative terms
Credibility (trustworthiness and authenticity)

Types of Qualitative Studies
    Biography-exploring life of an individual
    Phenomenology-understanding a phenomenon
    Grounded theory-inductive process of theory development from field datum
    Ethnography-describing a cultural or social group
    Case study-in-depth analysis of a single case or one aspect of multiple cases

Qualitative Data Analysis
Coding is a method of qualitative analysis involving labeling common emerging themes from a data set. In coding, the researcher is the computer.
    Read the data thoroughly and completely, making a conscious effort to notice patterns.
    Identify themes that emerge from the data and label them, or “code” them.
    Use the same code to label common themes.
    Make a list of your codes and note the frequency of each code

Descriptive Methods
Descriptive methods: used to “describe;” no manipulation of IV, therefore no causation is established.

Archival and previously recorded data – very little control over sample, extraneous variables during collection, or physical damage to the datum over time.

Observational techniques:
    Case studies
    Naturalistic observation
    Participant observation
    Clinical perspective

Choosing Behaviors and Recording Techniques
Time sampling – observing behavior at different times

Situation sampling – observing same behavior in different situations

Role of Consistency
Interobserver reliability – degree of consistency among observers’ ratings
    (# agreements / # observations) X 100 = % agreement

Should have 85% agreement among observers to claim reliability.

Correlational Relationships
Correlation studies examine the relationship between 2 variables.
Types of correlations:
    Positive correlation
    Negative correlation
    Zero correlation

Correlational Studies
Remember that many correlations occur due to extraneous variables. (Ex. Relationship between shoe size and candy sales. What variable needs to be controlled?)