It would be tempting to think that research methods never change and that last year’s model is perfectly good this year. In some ways that is true. Psychological research follows predictable paths, including predictable methodologies.
However, sometimes the emphasis and focus of research undergoes change, even as the basic principles remain the same. This edition of Research Methods: A Tool for Life reflects some changes that have emerged in our discipline. There is a chapter on cultural and individual differences in the research enterprise; it is an updated version of the chapter that has appeared in the two previous editions of the book.
Furthermore, in this edition, I have tried to embed more culturally focused research within each chapter, hoping that one focus of contemporary psychological research, cultural and cross-cultural issues, becomes more apparent in the discussions of different kinds of research. It is important to recognize that cultural issues in research do not belong only in a single chapter.
Rather, we need to attend to the importance of culture in our approaches to research and in the conclusions we draw. Thus, cultural and cross-cultural issues do not stand apart from the rest of psychology. They are in and of themselves an important aspect of our discipline. So, as you read each chapter, you will see descriptions of research that go beyond Guthrie’s (2004) sentiment that “even the rat was white.”
In addition, there is new material on ethics in research. Over the past several years, issues of ethics have surfaced that tell us that we still have to pay attention to the welfare of the people who volunteer for our studies and that ethical issues have an impact on us all.
In addition, there are other updates to the presentation, with research that reflects the current nature of scientific psychology. And as with the previous editions, I have tried to show how the sometimes abstract principles of research actually do have an effect on our lives outside the laboratory. In the long run, empirical research is the best basis for making decisions about our lives. That doesn’t mean that we can be simplistic—no single laboratory study ever settles an argument. But, in the long run, the body of research on many topics has been shown to be a highly effective means of guiding our behaviors.
Chapter One: Psychology, Science, and Life
Chapter Two: Ethics in Research
Chapter Three: Planning Research: Generating a Question
Chapter Four: Practical Issues in Planning Your Research
Chapter Five: Measurement and Sampling
Chapter Six: Conducting an Experiment: General Principles
Chapter Seven: Experiments with One Independent Variables
Chapter Eight: Experiments with Multiple Independent Variables
Chapter Nine: Expanding on Experimental Designs: Repeated Measures and Quasi-Experiments
Chapter Ten: Principles of Survey Research
Chapter Eleven: Correlational Research
Chapter Twelve: Studying Patterns in the Natural World: Observational Approaches
Chapter Thirteen: Research In Depth: Longitudinal and Single-Case Studies
Chapter Fourteen: People Are Different: Considering Cultural and Individual Differences in Research