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Psychology Subject Guide: Research Design

This research guide is for students enrolled in GHC psychology courses.

A Comparison of the DIfferent Types of Research Design

What is an experiment?

An experiment  deliberately imposes a treatment  on a group of objects or subjects in the interest of observing the response. 

What is a Natural Experiment (aka Quasi-Experiment)?

Natural experiments are very similar to true experiments but use naturally formed or pre-existing groups.

What is Correlational Research?

In general, correlational research examines the covariation of two or more variables.

What is Observational Research?

Observational research observes and records phenomena. 

Research Design

Research design is a plan for collecting and utilizing data so that desired information can be obtained with sufficient precision or so that an hypothesis can be tested properly.

There are several different types of research design in psychology including:

  • Experimental Research
  • Natural Experimental Research
  • Correlational Research
  • Observational Research

See the boxes in the left column for information about these types of research design.

Considerations in Research Design

Populations & sampling: a population is any set of people or research subjects having a common observable characteristic. A sample consists of a subset of the population.

Reliability: A test is reliable when it yields consistent results.

Validity: A test is valid when it measures what it's supposed to.

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