Exam-style Questions: Research Methods

  1. a) Give one advantage and one disadvantage of a laboratory experiment.

    (4 marks)

    b) Give one advantage and one disadvantage of a naturalistic observation.

    (4 marks)

    (Marks available: 8)

    Answer

    Answer outline and marking scheme for question: 1

    a) Choose from one of each of the following:

    Strengths: Weaknesses:
    Tighter control of variables. Easier to comment on cause and effect. Demand characteristics - participants aware of experiment, may change behaviour.
    Relatively easy to replicate. Artificial environment - low realism.
    Enable use of complex equipment. May have low ecological validity - difficult to generalise to other situations.
    Often cheaper and less time-consuming than other methods. Experimenter effects - bias when experimenter's expectations affect behaviour.

    b) Choose from one of each of the following:

    Strengths: Weaknesses:
    More natural behaviour occurs - if people unaware of observation. Observer may affect behaviour if detected.
    Studying of animals that cannot be observed in captivity. Difficult to replicate - cannot control extraneous variables.
    Study of situations that cannot be artificially set up. Need for more than one observer - inter-observer reliability (also intra-observer reliability).

    (Marks available: 8)

  2. a) Explain what 'random sampling' means.

    (2 marks)

    b) Explain what 'demand characteristics' are and give one way in which they can be minimised.

    (4 marks)

    (Marks available: 6)

    Answer

    Answer outline and marking scheme for question: 2

    a) 'Random sampling' means that everyone in the entire target population has an equal chance of being selected.

    b) 'Demand characteristics' are features of an investigation that leads participants into attempting to guess the hypothesis and so change their behaviour - they respond to the perceived demands of the study.

    Demand characteristics can be minimised using a single or double blind design. You should chose one of these designs and explain what it means to achieve 2 marks.

    (Marks available: 6)

  3. a) What is the 'mean'?

    (2 marks)

    b) Give one disadvantage of using the mean.

    (2 marks)

    c) Explain what 'positive correlation' means.

    (2 marks)

    d) Which graphical technique should be used to display a correlation?

    (1 mark)

    (Marks available: 7)

    Answer

    Answer outline and marking scheme for question: 3

    a) The mean is a measure of central tendency used with normal distribution and interval level data. It is calculated by adding up all values in a set of data and divide by the number of values (N).

    (2 marks)

    b) The mean is not suitable for use where it may be distorted by extreme values in a set of data.

    (2 marks)

    c) A positive correlation occurs when two associated variables increase together.

    (2 marks)

    d) A scatter graph is the graphical technique used to display a correlation.

    (1 marks)

    (Marks available: 7)