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Qualitative Method

oQualitative Methods

as the name indicates, are methods that do not involve measurement or statistics

oExample of Qualitative Method

Case study mthode clinique

or clinical

method. introspection naturalistic observation Interviewing phenomenological methods.

Case Study
One qualitative method that goes back a long way Physicians like Sigmund Freud became interested in psychological problems, they continued their tradition of writing and publishing descriptions of their most interesting patients, the treatments they attempted to use, and the progress of the disorder.

Mthode Clinique

well used by Jean Piaget and his followers. basic idea is to present a person with a situation or problem for them to deal with. The researcher observes how they handle the situation and asks them questions to try to understand the thought processes they are using.


Another version of the Mthode Clinique is called experimental phenomenology.


study, for example, asked chess masters and novices to think out loud while playing chess, and analyzed the differences in approach.

Introspection Method

used by Wilhelm Wundt often considered the founder of scientific psychology -- and his students.


paid careful attention to their own perceptions of simple events like colors, and noted changes in their perceptions following changes in the events.

Naturalistic Observation

the oldest qualitative method is to step back from the situation and make every effort not to interfere. A variation on naturalistic observation used by some sociologists and psychologists is called participant observation. A sociologist who is interested in studying the lifestyles of people in some subculture (say a motorcycle gang) may actually join the subculture and interact with the people

Interviewing Method

of the most useful qualitative techniques It is often a part of all of the preceding methods. Contrary to what many people believe, interviewing is not easy. In fact, it is a rare person who is truly skillful at interviewing. You have to make sure you are not leading the person in the direction you would like them to go. You have to make sure you dont misinterpret what they

Phenomenological Methods

is the study of the contents of consciousness phenomena and phenomenological methods are ways of describing and analyzing these contents. used in psychology to refer to subjective experiences or their study Originally, the methods focused on describing ones own thought, feelings, and perceptions.



what you are doing when you compare two sets of measurements (each set is called a variable).


you were to measure everyones height and weight, you could then compare heights and weights and see if they have any relationship to each other -- any "co-relation," if you will. Of course, the taller you are, generally speaking, the more you weight. But it is obviously not a perfect co-relation, because some people are thin and some are fat. A perfect correlation is +1. Very close to perfect would be a comparison of men's shoe size and their... foot length. For example, here is some data

Shoe size John Dave 4 1/2 5

Foot length (inches) 9 1/4 9 3/8

Jim Ed Bob Ted Matt Damian

6 1/2 6 1/2 7 8 11 1/2 12

9 1/4
9 1/2 9 3/4 9 3/4 10 1/8 11 11 1/4



11 3/8


is called a scatter plot. The line is the line that describes the "best fit" -- in other words, it accounts for the data most nicely. But you can see by comparing the dots to the line, it's pretty close to a +1 correlation. Most things have a correlation of 0. An example would be your shoe size vs. your SAT score.

homicide rates with hand gun ownership. (The figures from 1980's.)
Country USA Northern Ireland Finland Canada Australia Scotland Belgium Switzerland Norway France West Germany Spain The Netherlands England and Wales Homicide rate (per 100,000 per year) 8.8 5.2 2.9 2.1 2.0 1.8 1.8 1.2 1.2 1.2 1.2 1.0 0.9 0.7 Hand gun ownership (% of population) 29.0% 1.5% 7.0% 4.0% 2.0% 0.5% 6.0% 14.0% 3.5% 5.5% 6.5% 2.0% 1.0% 0.5%

Scatter plot


will give you a number that tells you how much of the variance (variation) in one or the other of the variables is "explained" by the other. So, for example, the .70 correlation above tells us that 49% of the variation in homicide rates is related to the ownership of hand guns. That leaves us with 51% of the variation we still need to account for.


psychology, we are generally impressed by correlations of .3 and higher. .8 or .9 blows us away. But one thing correlation cannot tell you is causality. Your grades and your SATs correlate pretty well Even the homicide-hand gun example doesn't give you causation. Odds are always that there is something else that causes two things to correlate. Maybe a violent culture leads to both more guns and more violence. It takes other kinds of research most especially experiments to pin down cause and effect!

Descriptive Statistics

Descriptive Statistics

ways of summarizing large sets of quantitative information. If you have a large number of measurements, the best thing you can do is to make a graph with all the possible scores along the bottom, and the number of times you came across that score recorded vertically in the form of a bar. But such a graph is just plain hard to do statistical analyses with, so we have other, more numerical ways of summarizing the data.

John -- 3.0

Mary -- 2.8 George -- 2.8 Beth -- 2.4 Sam -- 3.2 Judy -- 2.8 Fritz -- 1.8 Kate -- 3.8 Dave -- 2.6 Jenny -- 3.4 Mike -- 2.4 Sue -- 4.0 Don -- 3.4 Ellen -- 3.2 Orville -- 2.2

Central Tendency

tendency refers to the idea that there is one number that best summarizes the entire set of measurements, a number that is in some way "central" to the set.


mode. The mode is the measurement that has the greatest frequency, the one you found the most of. Although it isn't used that much, it is useful when differences are rare or when the differences are non numerical. The prototypical example of something is usually the mode. The mode for our example is 3.2. It is the grade with the most people (3).


median. The median is the number at which half your measurements are more than that number and half are less than that number. The median is actually a better measure of centrality than the mean if your data are skewed, meaning lopsided. The median for our example is 3.0. Half the people scored lower, and half higher The mean. The mean is just the average. It is the sum of all your measurements, divided by the number of measurements.


is the most used measure of central tendency, because of its mathematical qualities. It works best if the data is distributed very evenly across the range, or is distributed in the form of a normal or bell-shaped curve One interesting thing about the mean is that it represents the expected value if the distribution of measurements were random! Here is what the formula looks like:

So 3.0 + 2.8 + 2.8 + 2.4 + 3.2 + 2.8 + 1.8 + 3.8 + 2.6 + 3.4 + 2.4 + 4.0 + 3.4 + 3.2 + 3.2 is 43.8. Divide that by 15 and that is the mean or average for our example: 2.92

Statistical dispersion

refers to the idea that there is a second number which tells us how "spread out" all the measurements are from that central number. range. The range is the measure from the smallest measurement to the largest one. This is the simplest measure of statistical dispersion or "spread."



range for our example is 2.2, the distance from the lowest score, 1.8, to the highest, 4.0.


range. A slightly more sophisticated measure is the interquartile range. If you divide the data into quartiles, meaning that one fourth of the measurements are in quartile 1, one fourth in 2, one fourth in 3, and one fourth in 4, you will get a number that divides 1 and 2 and a number that divides 3 and 4. You then measure the distance between those two numbers, which therefore contains half of the data. Notice that the number between quartile 2 and 3 is the median! The interquartile range for example is .9, because the quartiles divide roughly at 2.45 and 3.35. The reason for the odd dividing lines is because there are 15 pieces of data, which, of course, cannot be neatly divided into


standard deviation. The standard deviation is the "average" degree to which scores deviate from the mean. More precisely, you measure how far all your measurements are from the mean, square each one, and add them all up. The result is called the variance. Take the square root of the variance, and you have the standard deviation. Like the mean, it is the "expected value" of how far the scores deviate from the mean. Here is what the formula looks like:

So, subtract the mean from each score and square them and sum: 5.1321. Then divide by 15 and take the square root and you have the standard deviation for our example: .5849.... One standard deviation above the mean is at about 3.5; one standard deviation below is at about 2.3

The Normal Curve


curve, also called the bell-shaped curve, represents a distribution that reflects certain probabilistic events when extended to an infinite number of measurements. It is an idealized version of what happens in many large sets of measurements: Most measurements fall in the middle, and fewer fall at points farther away from the middle. A simple example is height: Very few people are below 3 feet tall; very few are over 8 feet tall; most of us are somewhere between 5 and 6. The same applies to weight, IQs, and SATs! In the normal curve, the mean, median, and mode are all the same.


standard deviation below the mean contains 34.1% of the measures, as does one standard deviation above the mean. From one to two below contains 13.6%, as does from one to two above. From two to three standard deviations contains 2.1% on each end. An other way to look at it: Between one standard deviation below and above, we have 68% of the data; from two below to two above, we have 95%; from three below to three above, we have 99.7%


of its mathematical properties, especially its close ties to probability theory, the normal curve is often used in statistics, with the assumption that the mean and standard deviation of a set of measurements define the distribution. Our example above is a clear example - a normal curve with a mean of 2.92 and a standard deviation of .58 is quite different from the pattern of the original data.

A good

real life example is IQ and intelligence: IQ tests are intentionally scored in such a way that they generate a normal curve, and because IQ tests are what we use to measure intelligence, we often assume that intelligence is normally distributed, which is not at all necessarily



simple experiment starts out very much like correlation: You have two sets of measurements and you look to see if there is a relationship between them. You want to know if they "co-relate." The two sets of measures are called variables.


big difference between experiments and correlations is that, in experiments, you actually manipulate one of the variables. If you are manipulating one of the variables, that means that the second variable, if it "co-relates," was caused to do so by the variable you manipulated! You can tell what the causal effects of the first variable are on the second one -- something you can never be quite sure of with a regular correlation study.

Two Variables in Experiments


Variable-the one that you manipulate Ex: Think of it like a radio knob: You can turn the knob because it is, to a degree, independent of the rest of the radio Dependent Variable- The other variable Ex: Like the volume of your music depends on where you set the volume