What kind of research can you be expected to conduct for your psychology thesis?

There are several types of research that you can perform when you’re completing your psychology thesis. Each different type of research has different demands upon your time, attention, and time frame.

Observational Research

Observational research is the type of research that is performed on animals in the wild. This is where a researcher observes the objects of the research to determine a conclusion. An example might be a researcher watching a preschool class when they’re on recess to understand how a child dresses affects what degree the other children play with them. The advantages of this type of research is that it looks at subjects in their natural environment and examines real behaviors that would happen whether or not the researcher was there or not. This means that this research is easier to generalize, or make assumptions from about the entire population. Disadvantages include that observation affects what is observed (the children might act differently in your presence) and it’s impossible to control for other factors which might affect what you’re trying to study. Like in the example above, how the child smells may be the real reason children play more or less with that child.

Experimental Research

Experimental research is set up by a researcher so that the researcher controls and manipulates at least one variable to determine how this variable alone affects what they are studying. An example would be a researcher who wants to study the effects of elevator music on problem solving. This researcher would have someone solve math problems in a room with the only difference being the type of music playing. The advantage of this type of research is that it’s much easier to make claims about cause and effect. It’s also much easier to verify that what you’re studying is the thing that’s affecting the person. Disadvantages include that this type of research is labor intensive and requires a researcher to sit with each and every study participant in order to verify the results and explain the study. Additionally, some variables are difficult to impossible to control for, such as how well rested the participant is before the study.

Survey Research

Survey research is completed by having people fill out questionnaires. The advantage is that these studies are easy to complete with less time and labor required. They can also study multiple variable simultaneously. The disadvantage of this type of research is that you’re relying on the participants to be honest about their responses, you usually have a limited ability to make generalizations about the results, and some people might not take the study seriously due to being anonymous.