Flaws of Case Study and Experimental Method Research in Psychology


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Psychology is a type of science because psychologists share a basic assumption with all other scientists. Psychology methods can range from simple to complex. There are several research methods in psychology, and the outcome is relatively different for each. Each method studies and tests different situations. “The goals of psychologist are to make predictions about the conditions that gave rise to them, and then use that knowledge to predict and possibly to control events in the future”. (Stephen F.Davis, 2007)

Case study uses information obtained from one person or a few people to illuminate the behaviors of others and suggest further research. Sigmund Freud popularized case study along with his psychonalytic theory of personality. A major advantage of the case study is that focussed on one person allows researchers to gather a great deal of detailed information. The goal of a case study is to use the information gathered from one person to understand the behaviors of others. “The case study is often used by used by psychologist in order to research into aspects of the human psyche.” (Keirs, 2009) Psychologist use experiments, interviews, questionnaires, observations, diaries, and psychometric tests are used within a case study. There are two basic types of case study; retrospective and longitudinal. In retrospective, your information comes from the history of the person you are studying. If it were a person who was being studied, you would have been to interview the person about their childhood and their family, as a result developed a report of their life and early life. In contrast longitudinal, investigates the future. They research consequences of a certain situation that has happened. The key feature in the case study method is subject matter. The subject matter is usually a person or an animal. Much like experimental case study, it often uses variables. As with any other method, it has its advantages and disadvantages. The advantage of case study is the ecological validity of it. The information that is used in these studies is from real life environment. The information is good information because the research is so in depth. The research if often very useful. There are also disadvantages and potential disadvantages. One main disadvantage is case studies usually relate to one individual, and what applies to you may not apply to me. Replication would not be easy with case study because of the unique situations.

“The experimental

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method allows a researcher to accurately test their hypothesis by giving them control over the variables involved, allowing them to identify why something may be happening and accurately measure behavior by using scientific method” (Wagner, 2009) The experimental method is one of the few methods that uses real scientific thought. It carefully uses the scientific method to solve different cases. Some of our most skilled and knowledgeable psychologist began their career with a strong belief in the experimental method. As with the survey method, the experimental method helps with the investigation of a curious fact. “The logic of the experimental method starts with a hypothesis, or testable prediction, about which variable or variable causes the behavior under consideration.” (Stephen F.Davis, 2007) Many psychologists are guided by their hypothesis, even though it is said not to rely too heavily on it. Psychologist use independent and dependent variables in their experiments to observe how one variable affects the next. Psychologist use direct and clear vocabulary known as operational definitions. Using operational definitions allow other psychologist to repeat the experiment with no hassle. In the experimental method, there is also an experimental group and a controlled group. On one hand, the experimental group is exposed to the independent variable whereas the controlled group is not exposed. In later year’s psychologist have also turned to mathematics. They began using two main branches of statistics, descriptive statistics, and inferential statistics.

There are only small advantages and disadvantages in the experimental method. With the experimental environment, you have the ability to show cause and effect. The disadvantage is that most of these experiments are conducted in a lab setting, which may inhibit natural behavior.

In conclusion, my research has shown me that the case study and experimental method has many flaws as well as the other methods. The years of work put into the psychology field have brought many different opinions and facts. Case study allows us to limit our research to one person. The experimental method allows us to cancel out all other possibilities, leaving us knowledgeable. These two methods are only a few of the, methods that have been and still are helpful to us today.


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