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 Lack of control over variables meaning a cause and effect relationship cannot be established.
 Difficult to analyse a huge collection of data, i.e. time consuming to analyse, summarise & report
the data
 Difficult to generalise data to other people for instance many case studies involve unique
situations, if look at neural case studies, we need to remember that there are large differences
between brains, the plasticity of the brain (how each brain recovers differently from an identical
 Brain injuries are rarely localised to anatomical boundaries, hence it’s difficult to be certain as to
area of the brain responsible for specific behaviour or mental problems, making it difficult to make
Data collection technique:
Observational studies
Observing & recording behaviour in a natural setting (not in a lab) and then attempting to
generate conclusions based on observations.
E.g. naturalistic observation; observing subjects/ animals in an inconspicuous manner (possibly
without informed consent) e.g. for instance observing animals in the wild (chimps)
E.g. participant observation: e.g. researchers being admitted to a psychiatric hospital for mental
illness to record the treatment of patients
 Good starting point for most scientific research
 Allows us to study behaviour that has not been tampered with by outside influences i.e. in
their natural environments, so behaviour is not affect by artificial surroundings. Thus enabling
researchers to gain more accurate information.
 Often it is impractical to study behaviour in a laboratory setting e.g. gauging the
psychological effects of a miscarriage.
It describes behaviour, but not the cause.
Risk of Observer effect, which occurs when the presence of researchers effects the
organism’s behaviour e.g. if researching ‘birth order’ behaviour in children, the subjects (the
children) may act differently if aware of adults observing their behaviour
Observer bias: occurs when the observers expectations, motives, past experience affects the
accuracy of their observations e.g. They ignore certain behaviour or treat certain subjects
differently (i.e. from the control group)
Ethical issues – in terms of violation of privacy, there is a lack of informed consent
Data collection technique:
Written/oral responses to questions/statements
Thus enabling individuals to provide a subjective account of their attitudes/ feelings, etc.
E.g. Questionnaires, surveys & interviews
These can take the form of Open ended questions - requiring participants to describe their thoughts, feelings e.g.
Describe your attitude to gambling
Ratings e.g. Likert scale e.g. rate your night’s sleep from 1: Very poor to 7: Excellent
Closed Questions: Should students be drug tested on campus: Yes, No, Not sure
Fixed responses: e.g. when your child is naughty do you A: smack them B: Send them to
time out, etc........... These style of questions enable more objective and quantitative data to
be collected, described, interpreted & analysed.
Can provide some highly descriptive data (if open ended questions are used)
Sensitive data can be gathered due to anonymous nature of subject’s responses.
Page # 10
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