Considerations when Conducting Psychological Research


A study conducted by psychologists to examine the experiences and behaviors of human beings is known as psychological research. Such studies can have occupational, clinical and educational application depending on the nature of data obtained. Traditionally, researchers have performed all kinds of experiments in the name of psychological research studies. However, some of these experiments do not meet the requirements of psychological research studies because the researchers do not pay attention to important issues. The three main important considerations when conducting the research, and that all psychologists must pay attention to, include; considerations when selecting participants, methodological considerations, and ethical considerations. All the three considerations have specific importance and ignoring them can lead to questionable experiments (Goodwin, 2002).

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The main important considerations when conducting psychological research

Researchers must consider the type of sample recruited for the research. According to Goodwin (2002), there is a close relationship between the phenomenon being investigated and the sample recruited for a psychological research. For example, a psychologist who wants to investigate variations in economic and religious backgrounds of citizens across countries can use a sample of students from an international university. Students in an international university are from a wide range of religious and economic backgrounds and can act as a good representative sample of members of different nations.

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However, students questioned in a class are an inappropriate sample for cross-cultural research. Samples for psychological research must appropriately be recruited in terms of types of participants, location and size. Once the researcher has identified the research subjects as well as their location, he or she must find a way of accessing them. The best way of accessing research subjects is through sending individual requests or using official agencies that must not act as representatives of the wider population. Researchers must be careful to select appropriate samples for psychological research depending on the phenomenon being investigated (Goodwin, 2002).

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Research in psychology must use clear guidelines that allow the researcher to employ different methods that are relevant for various contexts. Many psychologists have successfully used open-ended questionnaires while others have used observations to study psychological perspectives. When conducting psychological research, researchers must avoid the false assumption that constructs and methods developed in one culture or context are equally valid in another situation. There are three specific areas that researchers must be careful of. They include proper understanding of what is applicable and universal across different contexts, what types of words should be used in different contexts, and self-presentation needs or social desirability that may influence the accuracy of data collected (Marin, 1986).

Researchers conducting psychological research must pay attention to ethical considerations. Ethics can be defined as correct rules that researchers must abide by when carrying out research. Before beginning a psychological research, the researcher must obtain informed consent from participants. This involves telling the participants what research is all about and asking for their permission to participate. In addition, the researcher must thoroughly debrief research participants. This involves giving study subjects the general idea of the research and allowing them to ask question related to the study topic and factor that surround their direct participation. Data obtained from participants must also be kept private and confidential (Kohn, 1993).

Why these considerations are important

            It is important that psychologists select an appropriate sample of a psychological research depending on the phenomenon being investigated. The psychologist must be able to link the issue under investigation and the sample recruited in order to ensure that the sample can help him or her obtain relevant information. Generally, considerations when selecting participants must be observed by psychological researchers because they determine the accuracy and reliability of the data collected (Goodwin, 2002).

Methodological considerations in psychological research are important because they allow researchers to effectively analyze the focus groups and meet study objectives. These considerations are also important because they allow the researcher to choose appropriate research questions that might not threaten existing political, social and religious interests of participants. Psychologists with appropriate knowledge on how to select research methods are certain that they have collected the right data and appreciate the accuracy of that data (Marin, 1986).

Ethical considerations are very important in all types of psychological research. Psychological researchers have a moral responsibility to protect research subjects from all sorts of harm. It is important to obtain informed consent from participants prior to the study in order to avoid any conflicts that may arise in the course of research. When study subjects are debriefed prior to the study, they get to understand the risks and benefits of participating in psychological research. Keeping participants’ data private and confidential enables them to confide in the researcher and to be assured of information security (Kohn, 1993).

What could potentially happen if these considerations were ignored

            If psychologists fail to select appropriate samples for psychological research, they may end up using a sample that is not a good representative of the entire population. In addition, inappropriate selection of a sample for psychological research may lead to collection of in accurate and unreliable data. Eventually, conclusions generated from research findings may be misleading (Goodwin, 2002).

            When methodological considerations are ignored, the researcher may make assumptions that may not be applicable and universal across different contexts. For example, the researcher may ask questions that are threatening to certain cultural groups. This may prevent research participants from giving their responses which may eventually affect the whole process. In addition, ignorance of methodological considerations may lead to wrong choice of research methods which may make data analysis difficult. For instance, when quantitative research method is chosen instead of qualitative research method, the researcher might find problems analyzing the data obtained (Marin, 1986).            

When ethical considerations are ignored, the relationship between the researcher and study subjects may be interrupted, which may eventually cause negative impacts to the entire research. For instance, if no informed consent is obtained from research participants, they might choose to withdraw from the study after the researcher has spent a lot of time and resources. Psychological researchers who do not keep participants’ data private and confidential may face legal liability as they might be sued by the affected participants (Kohn, 1993).

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