Archive | September, 2011

Week1

30 Sep

I was unsure what to write my blog on so I decided to choose a research methods related topic that was good for debate: The most important factor when choosing a research topic is to ensure it is reliable and therefore replicable. Though there are many different types of reliability, general reliability is described as ‘the extent to which a measure or the parts making up that measure give the same or similar classification or score’[1]. This means that the study/test in continuous over time which is important for replicability.

Studies that are high in reliability ensure that the study or parts of the study are replicable over time and space ie: the same/similar tests could be done at a different point in time or in another place but the results would be similar to the original. This is crucial for psychological research as it is important that a study/ theory can be verified by replication. For example take Zimbardos Stanford Prison Experiment. Set in the basement of Stanford University the experiment randomly assigned male students a role of either prisoner or guard in a mock prison. Each wearing the uniforms or their assigned character Zimbardo found that the participants came to adopt the stereotypical role of their character ie: the guards became cruel and treated the prisoners inhumanely and the prisoners became increasingly passive and submissive. Due to the unethical circumstances of the experiment it is now impossible to have and a replication of the original therefore it cannot be repeated and the findings of the original cannot be verified. If an experiment cannot be replicated how can the findings be used in societal explanation eg: explaining why soldiers at Abu-Ghraib prison acted in the atrocious way they did. Can the finding of Zimbardos study ever be used in official settings eg: courts if the finding haven’t been verified by replication? 

In conclusion due the ever increasing influence psychology is having on society I feel that psychologists have a societal responsibility to ensure that research is able to be replicated to ensure a progressive society. Without this regressive theories could be adopted and cause harm to individuals and society in general.


[1] Dennis Howitt and Duncan Cramer, Introduction to Research Methods in Psychology, Second Edition, p418

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30 Sep

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