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Psychological Research and it’s Importance

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Task - 01
1.1. Comparing and contrasting two different psychological approaches

The discussion in the case can be described through two different psychological approaches, such as the Psychoanalysis approach and the Behaviourism approach. 

Now we can explain the given scenario in terms of the two psychological approaches. First, let’s begin with a behaviourism approach that says an individual’s behaviour is affected by the environment in which the individual belongs. Alex’s behaviour has been affected by the accident that happened to her mother. In 1878, John B. Watson developed a Behaviorism approach in explaining psychological cases. Mainly, he was encouraged by the works done by psychologist Pavlov (Morris, 2004). There is a general assumption of the Behaviourist approach that it depends on the observable behaviours and does not consider the internal feelings and thoughts. Watson (2000) further added that behaviourism studies the relationship between the environment and a person’s behaviour while ignoring the person’s inner feelings and thoughts. It mainly says that an individual’s behaviour is determined by the person’s environment, while many think that personality determines a person’s behaviour.  So, according to the behaviourist approach, the accident of Alex’s mother and its adverse impact has created a long term mental problem in her. Nowadays, she feels disturbing in communicating with her colleagues and supervisors. She is also uncomfortable in behaving with the patients as well. The environment in which Alex was grown-up was not adequately proper to build good behaviour for her. It can be said that Alex has an anxiety disorder that means she has no control over her anxiety. As a result, she often shows impracticable behaviour in the workplace. According to this approach, the main reason for Alex’s anxiety originates from the surroundings in which Alex works. There may be some causes that disturb the expected behaviour of Alex. As a result, she gets angry or upset due to the disturbance of the external environment. The behaviourism approach can be used to describe the scenario. 

If we describe the behaviour of Alex in light of the Psychodynamic approach, we can say that she has an inconsistent behavioural pattern. It may be by birth or has been developed gradually in her. Psychoanalysis or Psychodynamic approach is opposite to the behaviourist approach. This method has been developed by an Australian psychologist Sigmund Freud. According to Plutchik (2008), the psychodynamic approach focuses on internal conflicts in a subject’s insensible mind to develop theories according to the personality development of the entity. It allows treatment for the patient with a psychological disorder based on the theories developed using the psychodynamic approach (Morris, 2004). It is dependent on unconscious drivers such as early childhood development. According to this theory, behaviour is totally driven by mental aspects, subconscious forces, and emotions. It studied the relationship between the individual’s personality and the individual’s mind (Edwards, 2011). She has a mental disorder that should be taken care of to get rid of this problem. Medical treatment should be the appropriate one to be followed to reduce the pain. According to this approach, the external environment has no impact on the behaviour of Alex; the internal characteristics of Alex are responsible for her mental disorder or anxiety. Interior features include oral, latency anal, phallic, and genital-related aspects of Alex. Among these abilities, Alex may have lacked in any of them or more. She may lack the proper mental ability that deters the routine working procedures of a human being. 

In reality, Psychodynamic and Behaviorism approaches are totally opposite to one another in terms of the techniques used by the methods in determining the study’s conclusion (Plutchik, 2008). The psychodynamic approach relies on the internal characteristics of an individual to develop the personality or behaviour of the individual. At the same time, it ignores the environment of the surroundings of the individual. On the contrary, the Behaviorism approach says that an individual’s environment is the core determinant of the behaviour or personality of that individual while ignoring the environment of the surroundings of the individual. According to Underwood (2007), there is a big difference between these two theories regarding the study method. Animals are used in the case of behaviourism to get an idea about human behaviour. On the other hand, Psychodynamic nurtures human entities as a subject matter in order to get the idea about the inner psyche of the individual (Edwards, 2011). 

But there is a significant similarity between the two approaches. Both approaches use past experiences to develop the personality or behaviour of the individual. Based on past experiences, they define how they are as adult people (Lagache, 2003). Fromm (2004) further added that both theories are deterministic, which means they determine the children’s behaviour or individual leaving no scope for changes. Both the approaches teach us that we have to use the path aid down in front of us, and we cannot change them. But both methods have been convicted in terms of this condition. This is because, in reality, we can change many aspects of our environment and internal characteristics (Edwards, 2011). 


Task - 02
2.1. Methods of psychological research 

There are mainly two broad methods of psychological research. They have been discussed below-

2.1.1. Experimental research  

According to Bachrach (2011), research might be called experimental research when it uses an experiment to develop a causal relationship between different variables. He further said that this type of research takes place in laboratories under a primary context. On the other hand, Edwards (2011) noted that experimental research is a manipulative method that manipulates one variable to find out the cause and effect relationship with other variables. In most cases, two groups are developed under experimental research. One group is provided with some treatment that means it is manipulated, and the other is not. After a specific time, the outcomes are examined to determine the cause and effect relationship with the treatment. Experiments (often with different treatment and control groups), Natural experiment, Field experiment, Observational study, Quasi-experiment are some experimental research methods. 

Example: Gender and Memory Psychology Experiment is a popular experimental method of researching the short-term memory differences among males and females. This method starts with two groups of participants: one group includes only male participants, and the other group includes only female participants. Some similar type of information is provided to both the groups. After a while, a test is done to examine their memory. After that, the scores of the two groups are compared. Some research shows that male tend to forget more in the case of short-term basis Goswami (2015).  

2.1.2. Non-Experimental research  

According to Behan (2010), non-experimental research does not use any experimental method to do any research. Surveys, case studies, correlation studies etc., are the method of non-experimental research. He further insisted that non-experimental research is done under a natural context rather than under a manipulative context used in an experimental study. Ellis (2008) further added that in non-experimental research, the researcher does not control any variable of the research rather depends on the observations and the interpretations to come up with a conclusion. Archival research, Computer simulation (modelling), Interview, Meta-analysis, Self-report inventory, Content analysis, Survey, Case study, and Twin study some Non-Experimental research methods. 

Example: Correlation analysis is a popular method of deriving relationships among psychological variables. It is done with existing data collected from secondary sources such as national records, statistical organisations and other relevant sources. If we try to find out the relationship between children’s obesity and mental growth, we have to collect data about their weight and intellectual ability. A school could be the source of data in this case. If we run this data into the statistical model, we will get a relationship between the weights of the children and their intellectual ability Gaies (2001). 

2.2. Difference between Experimental research and Non-Experimental research  

Experimental research

Non-Experimental research  

  • It has precise control over independent variables and extraneous
  • It has a high level of internal validity 
  • The method can identify an adequate cause and effect relationship among variables.
  • Ethical consideration does not permit this method in some cases
  • The study is done under an artificial or contrived context
  • Participants may not behave accurately when they know that they are being studied 
  • It does not have any control over independent variables and extraneous
  • It has a high level of external validity 
  • It may fail to reveal a cause and effect relationship among variables 
  • This method has less exposure from ethical consideration 
  • It is done under a natural context
  • In most of the cases, participants are ignorant of knowing that they are studies. 
2.3. Evaluation of an experimental and non-experimental method 

2.3.1 Experimental method 


  • The method can identify a sufficient cause and effect relationship among variables.
  • It has a high level of internal validity. 
  • This allows precise control over independent variables and extraneous
  • A field experiment is more able to reflect the real-life scenarios; as a result, it has a high level of ecological validity
  • This may be a covert research 


  • The study is done under an artificial or contrived laboratory environment
  • The obtained results may not be representative of the whole population 
  • The results may not extrapolate to the external environment 
  • Treatment group may experience an adverse impact on the treatment given to them that is unethical in most the cases
  • Ethical consideration does not permit this method in some cases
  • Participants may not behave when they know that they are being studied 

2.3.2. Non-Experimental method 


  • It is done under a natural context that means in a non-manipulative environment. 
  • It has a high level of external validity. 
  • This method has less exposure from ethical consideration 
  • This type of research is less time consuming and expensive 
  • This method is very much effective when the variables cannot be manipulated or altered. 


  • It may fail to reveal a cause and effect relationship among variables 
  • This method is unable to control independent variables and extraneous
  • This type of research is dimensional that provides a limited number of complicated, truly valuable or revealing conclusions
  • This method may fail to produce plentiful data to reveal the true correlation among variables 


Task - 03
3.1. Importance of ethical issues within psychological research

At present, ethical issues are given a lot of emphasis in research, most notably psychological research. Both experimental research and non-experimental research in psychology have exposure to ethical issues. But many researchers have argued that exploratory analysis is more exposed to ethical issues (Gaies, 2001). 

In experimental research, one group called a treatment group is given a placebo to determine the impact of this placebo on the treatment group. After a specific time, the outcome from a control group that is not provided with any placebo and the outcome from the treatment group are compared to find a cause and effect relationship. In many cases, it has been found that a placebo may have an adverse impact on the treatment group. In such cases, it is unethical to give the placebo to the treatment group. In some cases, animals are used for this purpose, but it is also unethical practice, and it may not give the actual result (Ellis, 2008). 

People are compassionate in terms of psychological variables. As a result, researchers often experience ethical dilemmas while doing psychological research. People do not behave normally when they know that they are being studied. As a result, many researchers do not let them know about it. In many cases, after learning about it, some participants sued against the research for unethical practices. All these discussions suggest that it is essential to emphasise the ethical aspects while doing psychological research (Edwards, 2011). 

3.1.1 The little Albert study 

This is a controlled experiment that shows the operant and classical conditioning in human beings. The primary outcome of this study is that fear of children to loud noises is an innate unconditioned response. The study was first done with a nine-month-old Albert. He has displayed a white rat and given it to play with. The first outcome was that he did not fear a white rat. After that loud noise was created each time, he touched the rat. At this time, it has been found that he is afraid of the rat. So, noise in the stimulus creates fear (Goswami, 2015). 

There is a tremendous ethical consideration in this study. As this study works with children and animals to create fear in the children’s minds, there is a high possibility of creating an adverse mental experience in the children’s mind. Several studies were done under these assumptions, but after a complaint from a parent, it has been abandoned and declared illegal to do such an experiment with children. According to Pickren and Zimbardo (2010), the little Albert study is an unethical research method as it includes an infant. The process may create severe distress in the children’s mind and may develop long-term psychological problems. Haworth (2006) did research and showed that the procedure of doing the little Albert study has a 98% chance of developing a long-lasting fear in the mind of the children regarding the unconditioned stimulus. 

In modern society, this experiment has not been practised anymore due to its unacceptable ethical procedures of experimenting. This study has a high possibility of devastating damage to the children’s mental health (Goswami, 2015). 

3.1.2 Behavioural Study of Obedience 

In 1963, Stanley Milgram did a study at Yale University to find out the relationship between personal conscience and obedience to authority. This study was mainly generated from the trial that took place after World War 2. The assumption of the study was that, in World War 2, the German soldiers were following the order of their superiors while killing people due to their obedience to a superior. He did a study with 40 male people aged between 20 to 50 years old. A pair was developed that consisted of a teacher and a learner. The learner will be punished with an electric shock every time for a mistake, and the level of shock will increase every time.  After conducting the study, Milgram concluded that ordinary people just follow the orders given to them by their authority. They can kill innocent people (Milgram, 1963). 

Though the study was very much rewarded among the judicial, it has severe ethical problems. The first problem is that the participants were deceived as they knew that they were shocking a natural person. After the study, Milgram took feedback from the participants and argued that most of them were happy to study. The second problem was that the participants were put into a stressful situation that may cause long-lasting psychological harm. The third problem was that participants were not allowed to stop the experiment at any time though it was said earlier (Shanab and Yahya, 1977). 

3.1.3 A study of prisoners and guards in a simulated prison

The experiment was done by Philip Zimbardo, a professor at Stanford University, along with his students. Two groups were made among the students: one contains guards, and another includes prisoners. The study’s outcome showed that people behave depending on the situation rather than due to their personalities. Situational attribution of behaviour favours dispositional attribution that includes internal characteristics (Zimbardo, 2016). 

Though the experiment was viral, it has been challenged severely on ethical issues. A major unethical problem for the study was that the investigation continued, although some participants were unwilling to do so. The recipients were allowed to leave the experiment at any time, but the researcher did not let them go as he thought that the outcome might bring revolutionary results. The prisoners have experienced negative behaviour in the prison cell that has affected their mental health for a long time. The researcher was unable to ensure that no participants were psychologically harmed. Some participants argued that guards showed extensive power over the guards and stimulated some of the adverse behaviours in the experiment (Underwood, 2007). 














Bachrach, A. (2011). Psychological research. 1st ed. New York: Random House.

Behan, C. (2010). The Benefit of Personal Experience and Personal Study: Prisoners and the Politics of Enfranchisement. The Prison Journal, 91(1), pp.7-31.

Edwards, A. (2011). Experimental design in psychological research. 1st ed. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Ellis, A. (2008). Stress counseling. 1st ed. New York: Springer Pub. Co.

Gaies, S. (2001). Experimental vs. non-experimental research on classroom second language learning. 1st ed. Los Angeles, CA: Evaluation, Dissemination and Assessment Center, California State University, Los Angeles.

Goswami, M. (2015). Experimental Research. 1st ed. Saarbrücken: LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing.

Fromm, E. (2004). Psychoanalysis and religion. 1st ed.

Lagache, D. (2003). Psychoanalysis. 1st ed. New York: Walker.

Haworth, J. (2006). Psychological research. 1st ed. London: Routledge.

Milgram, S. (1963). Behavioral Study of obedience. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67(4), pp.371-378.

Morris, P. (2004). Behaviourism. 1st ed. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.

Pickren, W. and Zimbardo, P. (2010). The psychology book. 1st ed.

Plutchik, R. (2008). Foundations of experimental research. 1st ed. New York: Harper & Row.

Shanab, M. and Yahya, K. (1977). A behavioral study of obedience in children. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35(7), pp.530-536.

Towl, G. (2006). Psychological research in prisons. 1st ed. Malden, MA: BPS Blackwell.

Underwood, B. (2007). Psychological research. 1st ed. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.

Watson, J. (2000). Behaviourism. 1st ed. N.Y.: Norton.

Zimbardo, P. (2016). We are all prisoners or guards in our self-imposed psychological prison. PsycCRITIQUES, 61(3).



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