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Non-Experimental Research Methods in Psychology

Research MethodsNon-Experimental Research Methods in Psychology

  1. Questionnaire
  2. Interviews
  3. Naturalistic Observation
  4. Correlational Design
  5. Experimental


This can be divided into open source and closed source. Open source allows people to give full opinions, and lots of data can be obtained, for example, tell me what you think about boxing. While closed sources generate quantitative data which is much easier to analyze, the answers obtained are straightforward, which could be yes or no. For example, do you like boxing, do you agree with boxing?

Advantages of Questionnaire
  • There is a possibility of contacting a very large number of people more quickly.
  • The use of closed questions on a psychological scale will assist in the gathering of quantitative measure of what is intended to obtain.
  • They are very reliable, because the moment the questions are obtained, they can be given to a large number of people, and since the questions are the same thing, the data obtained is reliable.
Disadvantages of Questionnaire
  • Since it has to be distributed to so many people, there becomes a low response rate, and sometimes, the response is often not good.
  • People interpret the questions differently in the understanding of different context.
  • Many of the questions asked could lack validity and depth, and therefore they must be very good.
  • Questionnaires rely more on the way the questions are phrased, because if someone doesn’t understand the questions, they may not be able to ask.


This can be divided into structured, unstructured, and semi-structured interviews.

In structured interviews, the questions are unchanging and fixed, while in semi-structured interviews, questions adapt the response from respondents, and thus become simple, but can sometimes be deceptive. However, it requires some skills of drawing out things related to the interviewee focusing on the main purpose of the interview, and must remain flexible.

Advantages of Interviews
  • Views from respondents are obtained
  • Responds are valid
  • More detailed analysis can be obtained
  • They are flexible and receptive to new information.
  • Responses determine the next questions that can be forwarded.
  • Valuable new information can be obtained.
Disadvantages of Semi-structured Interviews
  • Quantifiable data are not gotten, making data hard to quantify.
  • The influence of the interviewer making data hard to interpret.
  • It is not standardized in any way, and subject to the policy of the researcher, in terms of what questions picked up and followed up. However, making some choices becomes the next decision during the interview. This makes it hard to replicate
  • Lack of reliability, because every interviewer would take a different role.

Naturalistic Observation

This follows the ethnographic approach. In this type of observation, people’s behavior is observed and recorded. Naturalistic observation is realistic, It is what goes live. Doing this requires some ethical implications, and it’s necessary that carefulness is taken when recording the observations. Otherwise, when they are noticed, they might change their behaviors and the goal of naturalistic observation wouldn’t be achieved anymore.

Advantages of Naturalistic Observation
  • There is ecological validity
  • It is relatively realistic, since it is based on a real life event.
  • It has a great deal of validity, since it’s the reality of the real world.
  • It’s not been manipulated, it is not artificially constrained, or artificially cleaned up in some ways
  • It reduces demand characteristics found in other methods
Disadvantages of Naturalistic Observation
  • It lack controls of the variables.
  • It also lacks reliability, because data obtained would never be the same elsewhere in another situation.
  • It is very valuable to the subjective power of the observer
  • It is very difficult to decide what to record from what not to record, because so much are going on.

Correlational Design

Correlations are statistical procedures, and it is used to show that two variables vary together. For example, as the temperature goes up, people buy more ice creams – that’s a positive correlation.

Advantages of Correlational Design
  • It is very descriptive since it can clearly describe the tendency of a person, object, or event.
  • It is realistic. This is because of it is based on natural phenomenon.
  • It can explicitly compare two variables giving their features relative to their reality.
Disadvantages of Correlational Design
  • It can be deceiving. Obtaining a significant correlation between two variables never guarantee the possibility of the existence of the other one.
  • The direction of influence may not be totally deduced, and this implies only correlation may not be used alone, thereby leading to assumptions.

Experimental Methods

This involves a study in which the researcher tries to manipulate a variable, while still measuring the other variable.

Advantages of Experimental Methods
  • There’s a high level of control on the side of the researchers. This would make them determine what exactly they are looking for.
  • They are privileged to span across diverse fields of research.
  • Due to high level of control, and only a particular variable is tested at a time, and the results are relevant
  • Most of the variation obtained can be used. Because, the researchers have the power to tailor the experiment to their own special situation and event and still maintaining the validity of the research design.

Purpose of Correlation Designs

The purpose of correlation design is this video is to typically determine the degree to which there is an existence of a relationship between two or more variables. Correlation design also shows the effects of these relationships of the variables used.

The findings from the video regarding cell phone use
  • Merging the use of phone with loneliness shows texting is more done than calling, as well as for social anxiety.
  • Texting also helps to give a non-face-to-face interaction with people that they may not be confident to see directly.
  • Texting is cheaper than calling.
  • Some feel very lost without their mobile phones, while some feel it is not necessary to be obsessed with the use of the mobile phone.
  • The cost of the use of mobile phone is a concern to many respondents. Many spend an average of £10,000 and £30,000.
  • Phones are used for constant surveillance, moms text many respondents asking where they are.
  • The mobile phone is also seen as a relationship tagging system. A respondent says, her parent thought she deliberately turned off her phone while she was out, but she actually had a flat battery.
  • There are a number of welcome communications on their mobiles. Some are bullied through texting and when this occurs, it is impossible to stop the sender of such message, even if it can be deleted.
  • There are differences between the way older and younger people use their phones. Younger people use their phone more collaboratively; sharing information, and there are more than one person writing a text. This was seen as numbers are shared, and friends helping the other to write a text.

Correlational design and its Appropriateness for Researchers

It is appropriate to use correlation design because it clearly depicts the relationship between the variables used for an experiment.

  • Non-experimental research methods in psychology [Video file]. (2006). In Films On Demand. Retrieved December 14, 2015, from https://digital.films.com/PortalPlaylists.aspx?aid=7967&xtid=40124
  • https://faculty.frostburg.edu/mbradley/researchmethods.html
  • https://flowpsychology.com/7-advantages-and-disadvantages-of-experimental-research/


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