Research methods – Unit 1 Project

1.        The method of research that was employed in this specific project situation is a single case study.  This research method is the most appropriate procedure in investigating this situation because it only involves one individual, which in this case is the eight-year old girl.  In addition, the goal of the investigation was to determine the cause of the specific maladaptive behavior, of banging a spoon during mealtime at the child’s school.  In this approach, the situation of the child is considered as one case and conducting an in-depth study of this specific child’s behavior results in information on the principles behind the spoon banging.  Case studies serve as anecdotal reports that determine whether such kind of research should be performed in the future using a more extensive coverage.

            The case study approach allows a researcher to concentrate of a single individual with a specific condition, as well as to conduct the observation over an extended period of time (Zechmeister et al., 2003).  A case study is different from other research methods because it does not follow a structured protocol for the examination of the situation.  One benefit of performing a case study is that the researcher acquires a keen understanding of the situation, thus allowing the generation of mechanisms that could have influenced the child to bang her spoon during mealtime.

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            The case study approach utilizes the scientific method because it involves the observation of the reaction of the child when a certain condition is introduced to her.  There are also hypotheses that are developed before a condition is presented to the child.  One ethical issue that may be related to this case study is the age of the child, wherein the subject is a minor and therefore the parents of the child should first give their permission for the researcher to conduct his investigation.  One limitation associated with case studies is the small size of the study population, as this usually involves one individual and not a substantial number of subjects.

2.        The method of research employed in this specific project situation is the observational study, which mainly involves the direct examination and surveillance of a specific situation without the introduction of a variable to the setting (Zechmeister et al., 2003).  The researcher thus generates inferences from watching a scene, deriving effects of that are portrayed by the study subjects.  One unique feature of an observational study is that the research has no control of the observation, especially in terms of setting up or choosing the control group.  Moreover, the observational study differs from other controlled forms of experimentation because the assignment of each subject to a specific treatment group does not occur in this approach.

            An observational study is generally employed when the topic for investigation could not be examined using a controlled experiment.  This research approach is also beneficial during investigations that could not be conducted using random assignments of subjects.  However, the responses of the subjects in an observational study are often non-random and thus this research method may be biased.  There is also a chance that the observer may be influenced by other external factors that may be present at the site.

            An observational study involves recording the responses of subjects to a specific situation and these responses are usually based on how the observer perceives such output.  The collection of responses is then further analyzed to generate a conclusion that should be representative of the study topic.  This research method employs the scientific method because it involves observation of a specific condition, as well as generates conclusions that are based on the collected observations.  One ethical concern related to this research approach is that there is no need to request for consent from the subjects and thus these individuals are generally unaware that they are being observed and analyzed.

3.        The method of research employed in this specific project situation is the experimental approach, which involves two major groups that represent a specific condition.  The experimental approach is usually employed in investigating the effects of a specific condition, which in this project involves the decision-making approach.  In addition, a number of independent variables are identified in the investigation so that the effects could be precisely determined.  Unlike the other research approaches such as the observational and single case studies, the experimental approach is the least biased of all methods because it allows the researcher to control independent variables that are introduced to the subjects (Zechmeister et al., 2003).

            Two variables were investigated in this specific research study, namely the cooperative and the competitive approaches in making group decisions.  The experimental approach controls that number of study participants that would participate in the study and this ensures an equal and unbiased experimental condition.  In order to further eliminate bias during the study, each of the subjects is randomly assigned to a group, thus preventing any selection and discrimination among study participants.

            The experimental research approach employs the scientific method because it involves the construction of a hypothesis that is tested during the investigation.  This research method also involves the observation of the effects of each decision-making approach, thus allowing the researcher to compare features that are common to each group and draw conclusions.  The experimental research approach usually requires that the study participants give their consent that they are being examined and this prevents the occurrence of ethical issues.  One limitation of this experimental research project is the size of the study population, wherein a small group of 20 subjects per group may not provide reliable conclusions.


Zechmeister, J., Zechmeister, E. & Shaughnesey, J.  (2003).   Essentials of research methods in psychology.  New York:  McGraw-Hill. ISBN: 9780072932348


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