Archive for the ‘Psychology’ Category

We got these handouts in class today, Psychology – Paper 3 HL 2009 and Psychology- Case Methods Handout. Hope it helps 🙂

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Qualitative research
Takes place in the real world

  • How people give meaning to their own experience

Words and analysis

  1. Interviews
  2. The researchers need to be flexible and sensitive to the needs of the patient
When dealing with qualitive research – it is imperative to be able to tolerate a degree of uncertainty
“reasearchers can only come to understand the social world through participants’ interpretations” – Interpretative approach

Reality is diverse and multifaceted. The goal is to get a picture of this reality. To measure means to reduce it – and therefore lose meaning.


  1. Provides rich data
  2. Particularly sueful for investigating complex and sensitive issues
  3. Explain penomena – that is, go beyond mere observation to understand what lies behind them (eg. why do people become homeless?)
  4. Generate new ideas and theories to explain and overcome problems.
  5. People are studied in their own environment, which increses credability

  1. Can be very time consuming and  generate a huge amount of data.
  2. Data analysis can be difficult because of the amount of data and no clear strategy for analysis
  3. Interpretation of data may be subjective (but reflexivity can help to minimize this)
Generalization is not always the aim

Quantitative research 

Numbers and statistics
Have been used partly in order to maintain the appearence of psychology as a scientific dicipline with valid knowledge claims.
During the 20th century there was a shift away from seeing quantitative methods as the only valid way fo gaining data. 


qualitative-vs-quantitative powerpoint


As with all qualitative research, keep a diary while preparing for the interview, including all aspects of decision making.

  • To keep up with reflexivity
  • To assist readers of the report in making conclusions about credibility

  1. The topic is too personal – therefore the interview will not reveal the truth.
    • Possible solution: choose an interview medium that will include less face-to-face contact (telephone, e-mail)
  2. Participant bias (pleasing the researcher)
    • Avoided by: Triangulation, reflexivity – anonymius less contact interviews (eg. e-mail)
  3. Researcher bias: The researcher influences the researched in various ways – by their way of asking questions, how they respond to the answers and how the interpret data. Or for personal reasons (being intimidating etc.
    • Possible solution: triangulation, reflexivity, less personal medium.
  4. Honesty and openness: Participants to not respond to the question asked.
    Participants lie

    • Possible solutions: use a more personal face-to-face approach
  5. Use a more personal approach/or the opposite, depending on the topic under investigation

  7. Face-to-face interviews (individual or focus-groups)
    • An individual interview. Allows the researcher to ask queastions directly to the participant(s). Can eb divided into structured, semi-structured and unstructured interviews.

      Sensitive topics can be discussed without possible embarrassment or conflict involved in sharing ideas in front of others Time consuming
      The researcher can direct the questions more than in a focus group. Less interaction will possibly lead to fewer new topics discussed and less spontainity.
      Group behaviour like conformity or dominance of some is avoided.

    • Focus groups. Usually 6-10 members chosen by purposive sampling. Group leaders usually act as a facilitator of discussion, introducing topics, encouraging members to speak and try to maintain focus. Frequently used in market research but also to come up with research ideas.
    • PROS: CONS:
      Time efficient – data collection from more people at the same time Participants may hold back, or not feel comfortable sharing their answers.
      Participants may trigger others to talk more – share memories, ask each other questions. May lead to surprising discoveries Domination by the more confident – and some will be quiet
      Can be argued to be more natural in its setting than one-to-one interviews -> higher ecological validity Participants may feel a need to conform to the options of others.
  8. Telephone interviews
  9. E-mail interviews (and chat-application type of interviews)


1. Structured interviews:

Specific set of questions are to be followed – no deviations allowed.

– Appropriateness is already considered.
– Insuring that the topic is covered
– Standardized -> same questions for all -> triangulation.
– Tie efficient
– Rigidity. Artificial situation – no spontainity or flexibility –> credibility low (like magazine tests.. Forced into an answer)

2. Semi-structured interviews:

Contain a basic structure, but alteration and additional questions are allowed.

  • Most commonly used technique
  • Varies between closed and open-ended questions.

– Allows for clarification and exploring beyond the answer first given. -> increases credibility
– Good  compromise – looseness of unstructure together with the focus from the structured interview.
– Leads to rich data compared to structured interview.

– More difficult to analyze than structured interview.
– Still somewhat artificial compared to eg. narrative interview.
– Time consuming

3. Unstructured interviews:

(Conversational interviews)

Some preparations needed but allows for a free discussion of a topic.

– Can give rich data
– Useful in theory, building where not enoigh research is done to justify particular questions.
– Can be unformed and difficult to analyze
– Very depending in personality of the interviewed.

4. Narrative interviews:

Based on Burnell, 2009.
This interview is supposed to reflect on the idea that storytelling is a way to remember and make sense of experience.
The thought is that people construct their realities on these narratives with an opening, a middle and a conclusion (Bruner, 2006)

Recent phenomenon. Aims to minimizer the influence of the researcher – only a few questions asked.
Eg. “Tell me about your childhood” or “tell me how it felt when you got your diagnose..” (very open questions)
– And then the participant procede with the interviewer only as an active listner (who is not directing the narration)
– Researcher can then return to the interview situation and seek clarification but the original narrative remains intact for analysis.

– Attemps to capture an unadulterated version of reality. Exploring the complexity of individual experiments
– In the best of cases give rich data
– Demands a lot from the participant -> big participant differences.
– Time consuming (esp. Data analysis)


To consider in preparation:


  • Small samples are usually used
  • The larger the sample, the more structured approach is needed

Sampling technique:

  • Choice of participants: talkative, expressive etc.
  • Most common: purposive sampling
    • Finding the target group through selection
    • People who are sharing a common characteristic/phenomena
  • Also used: snowball sampling
    • Finding the target group through participants’ friends
    • Used especially for focus groups (could be either a group who knows each other or just met)
  • Random sampling is not used
    • A certain characteristic is chosen
    • Participants suitable for interviews


  • Consider the treatment of sensitive/personal topics
  • Confidentiality
    • Could be difficult to keep from the interviewer
    • Use of pseudonyms (changing names of interviewee) etc.
  • Reflexivity
    • Both before, during and after research
  • Participant bias
    • If feeling uncomfortable when being recorded
    • Acting different because of being recorded, the interviewer, the members in a focus group etc.

Type of questions:

  • Descriptive questions:
    • Aim; obtain large amounts of information
    • Providing an idea of the focus of the participant
    • E.g.: “What happened?”
  • Structural questions:
    • Aim: establishing meanings to concepts/events
    • E.g.: “what does this event mean to you?”
  • Contrast questions:
    • Aim: establishing how words and ideas mentioned differs/are alike
    • Allows participant to compare events and experiences
    • E.g.: “do you prefer this or that?”
  • Evaluative questions:
    • Aim: insight about participant’s feelings about something
    • E.g.: “How did you feel when this happened?”

Data recording:

  • Usually using video cameras and/or tapes
  • Traditional recording: transcribed verbatim
    • Only speech is written down
  • Postmodern transcription
    • Speech included
    • Non-verbal elements such as sighs, nods, eye-flickering etc.
    • Provides more credibility than the transcribed verbatim method!!

Interview training:

  • Gender: female or male?
  • Quantity: one or more researchers?
  • Characteristics/skills:
    • Creating a trusting/safe environment
    • Keep focus on the matter investigated
    • Focus on listening to the answers (not preoccupied with structuring questions, following the scheme etc.)

To consider afterwards:


  • Restate the setup
  • Confidentiality: explain what will  happen to the data/how it will be treated
  • That they can find out about the results later on

Member checking:

  • After conducting the analysis of results/raw data
  • Return to participants to double-check if the interpretation of the data was correct
  • Increases credibility!

Analysis of interview data

Posted: April 4, 2011 in Psychology

Inductive content analysis (thematic analysis):

  • Involves allowing themes emerge from the data (e.g. identifying patterns)


  1. Identify raw data themes usually statements that the participants have said.
  2. Group themes and code them according to content. Aim: to find sub themes and higher order themes.
  3. Member checking is often done, make sure that the themes reflect on the participants experiences.
  4. Sub themes and higher order themes are sorted together to dimensions to represent an interpretation of the whole sample. Dimensions are then paired with evidence (like statements) in the final report.

Qualitative deals with the real world, to give meaning to experiences, not in a lab. Aim is to describe and explain events and experiences. Wants to interpret. For example; Observations, Interviews and Case studies. Researchers need to be flexible and can not be involved with the participants and have an assistant instead. People should be studied in their own environments when it comes to Qualitative methods. To look for themes in the data is more common than confirming a hypothesis.

Qualitative is more about words where its easy to analyse but Quantitative is about numbers where it is easier to make statistics and summarize.

Quantitive methods: experiments for ex have been used to maintain psychology appearance as a scientific discipline with valid knowledge claims.

During 20th century they shifted from using only quantitative methods to gain data but also realizing that both methods are needed.

What decides whether a researcher should use qualitative or quantitative data?

– purpose of research

– Characteristics of participants

– researchers beliefs about the nature of knowledge and how it can be acquired.

Look in course companion and try to summarise it.

Rolfe: means that the distinction between qualitative and quantitative research is a textbook creation and that there is no unified qualitative paradigm. In fact, he claimed they are not separate.

The aim of qualitative data is not to generalize


Posted: February 7, 2011 in Psychology

Prevention Strategies

Key words:

– Healthy lifestyle

– Physical activity

”Eat well plate” (2007) – education strategy in the UK

Australia – massive campaign aimed for primary school children. Encouraging children to eat better food, move, turn off screens, etc.


Obesity :

– Social

– Cultural

– Cognitive

– Physical

All these are needed, psychosocial methods are the most common ones.

Blair-West meant that treatment should be based on research eg.  stages of changes (Prochascha) knowing where people are in process of decision and changing is important for efficient treatment.

Blair-west -treatment program (Australia)

-> Realistic goal setting ( long-term weight loss etc.)

-> Low sacrifice diet ( decide what can be sacrificed and what not, and learn to identify what the most fattening is.

-> Information about dangers and benefits

-> Physical activity

4 different treatments:


– Dieting

– Drug treatment



Aim: change cognitions and eating behaviour.

Thinking (Cognition) -> Behaviours

Judith Beck – Beck institute – new CBT based program:

1- Challenge eating behaviours: destructive eating behaviour: recognize and change

2- Challenge thinking: dysfunctional cognition, body image and self-confidence

3- Long-term maintenance: of weight after loss

– Pilot study: 10 obese women -> positive results after 1 year.

Stahre (2007) – mean bill 36, cognitive based 1/2,  training only 1/2

->cognitive (experimental) group 5.9kg loss average after 18 month

->control: 1kg loss

Conclusion: CBT is a cost effective (more for less)


Yes, dieting gives results but Meta – analysis is from 92 studies of dieting shows that weight gain after treatment was the norm.

This is also supported with rats ( Brown et al) showing that repeated weight loss was followed by weight regain.

Reason: increased body fat + decreased metabolism

Drug treatment:

Two types – none very well researched

One aimed at decreasing appetite suppressant drug. The other is aimed at reducing fat absorbtion ( lipase inhibitors -> affects gastro intestinal system – body reacts negatively to fatty foods.)

Surgery treatment:

Gastric bypass (gastric banding) – cutting of parts of the stomach so it can no longer be as full or used to absorb food -> feel full sooner

Maggard et al. (2005) a meta physical on 147 studies and found that surgery lead to 20-30kg weight loss – same over time and lead to a general improvement in health.



Physiological aspects:

Genetic predispositon:

  • Correlational research: two obese parents – result in 80% in becoming obese. Garn et al, chances of slim parents having an overweight child is about 7% Correlation – no causes.
  • Twin studies – Stunkard et al – twins reared apart. Genetics play a great role – especially in those who are slim. Indicate genetic factors – but no cause and effect either. Metabolism? Amount of fat cells? Or rather about learned lifestyles.
  • Problem with genetic explanation : it can account for obesity but not for the epidemic like increase in prevalence as this is happening in too short time.
  • Evolutionary theory – we are genetically programmed to eat to survive – if we can. Works out well under ”normal conditions” when there isn’t much to eat – that’s not the case nowadays though (and less physical activity)

Socio-cultural factors:

Lack of physical activity eg. the sedentary lifestyle modern people lead.

Correlational research: Prentice and Jebb (1995) – physical activity difference in UK  – positive relationship between obesity, car ownership and television veiwing. No cause and effect. Lakdawalla went far as estimating that 60% of the total growth in weight was due to decreased activity compared to 40% in calorie intake.

  • There are various factors coming into play (not just laziness and indulgence) energy dense food, labouring saving devices, motorized transports, sedentary work..
  • Eating behaviour. Calorie intake grew by 25% in the US between 1973 and 1999, can be seen in many other countries, but not in all (like Australia – no changes in calories but still increase in obesity)
  • Theory . the fat proportion theory. Obese may not eat more than non-obese but eat proportionally more fat content (Blunder et al) – high fat eaters were 19 times as likely to be obese than those who are not.
  • Health gap between people in different socioeconomic groups – and this is widening ( Peterson, 2006)
  • Forslund (2005) on snacking – found (cross-sectional study, self reports) compared energy intake in obese group vs. control group. Found that the obese group ate more often, and got most energy out from snacking (also later at night) . Problem with study: the self-report part (under-reporting, and the participants (they were part of an intervention program).

What factors predict smoking?

Individual factors

  • Attitudes and cognitions. (self-image)
  • Ogden (2004) meant that putting to much emphasis on this would lead to forgetting about the social context.

Social learning theory

  • smoking is learned
  • parental smoking is a big factor predicting smoking
  • Lader and Mathesan (1991) showed in a longitudal UK study that children were twice as likely to smoke if their fathers smokes.
  • Murray, 1984, that if parents are strongly against smoking – the children were up to seven times less likely to smoke.

Peer group pressure

  • The group you are in is a source of social identity
  • Cross-cultural study (Unger et al, 2001) found that European Americans students (individualistic culture) were more impressionable by their peers than Asian/Hispanic Americans (collectivistic culture: put your group roles over your own roles), the came to the conclusion than individualistic collectivism creating  youth cultures and rebelling is more important. PAGE 237 CC: ”did you know” about Chinese youths

Social Class

  • Estimates from 2007 show that smoking prevalence is related to socio-economic factors. More common mong adults poverty level.

Test on Thursday 20th January

Posted: January 17, 2011 in Psychology

Psychology test on health, going to be about stress and addictions. 3-4 essay questions we have to brainstorm on !

Should smoking be banned?

All the Yes points:

  • Eliminates a public health menace
  • Being regulated out of existence anyway
  • Damaging health: Nicotine: a deadly poison, Arsenic: used in rat poison, Methane: a component of rocket fuel, Ammonia: found in floor cleaner, Cadmium: used in batteries, Carbon Monoxide: part of car exhaust, Formaldehyde: used to preserve body tissue, Butane: lighter fluid, Hydrogen Cyanide: the poison used in gas chambers.
  • Kills: The longer you smoke, the better your chances are of dying from it. One out of 3 smokers die from smoking and many more become very sick. Think about your friends who smoke. 1/3 of them will die from smoking if none of you quit
  • You’ll get sick: Smoking makes you smell bad, gives you wrinkles, stains your teeth, and gives you bad breath, Smokers get 3 times more cavities than non-smokers, Smoking lowers your hormone levels, When smokers catch a cold, they are more likely than non-smokers to have a cough that lasts a long time. They are also more likely than non-smokers to get bronchitis and pneumonia, Teen smokers have smaller lungs and a weaker heart than teen non-smokers. They also get sick more often than teens who don’t smoke.
  • Would You Smoke a Cigarette if you knew…Second hand smoke can cause lung cancer in young children with weak immune systems
  • Expensive: Let’s say you start smoking at age 13 (some do) and smoke an average of 25 every day. By the time you turn 30, you will have spent about $37,000 on cigarettes(at $6 a pack). Just think about what you could have done with that money. Buy a car. Spend a summer in Europe. Pay for university. Puts it in perspective doesn’t it?

All the No points:

  • The taxes on cigarettes help fund this country
  • Cigarettes are just as bad as cars.
  • It would never work
  • John Stuart Mill – the principles of power and harm in Liberal Democracy
  • The buying and selling of tobacco products should not be made illegal
  • Why would you want to make something illegal after it has been legal for years.
  • getting rid of something doesn’t necessarily mean that it stops.
  • What’s wrong with enjoying life anymore?