Data Collection in Industrial/Organizational Psychology

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  • 0:04 Data Collection Methods
  • 0:28 Survey
  • 1:35 Unobtrusive Measurement
  • 2:55 Qualitative vs. Quantitative
  • 3:41 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ian Lord

Ian has an MBA and is a real estate investor, former health professions educator, and Air Force veteran.

In this lesson, we will address a few different methods of data collection and show how they can be used to collect qualitative or quantitative information.

Data Collection Methods

In order to test a hypothesis in any industrial/organizational psychology experiment, it is necessary for the researchers to obtain data for analysis. As a first-year psychology student, Ted needs to become familiar with the different ways in which data can be obtained. Let's review some of the common methods of data collection used in research.


The survey is a common approach to efficiently gather information, but surveys can take many forms. A questionnaire is the first thing that comes to Ted's mind. Almost everyone has at some point been asked to fill out a card or respond to an Internet-based form that contains a number of specific questions. A questionnaire can ask open-ended questions that allow the participant to form his or her own answer.

Another technique is to seek the answer to closed-ended, or specific, questions, such as the number of times a certain action occurred, how that person rated an experience on a measurement scale, or answers to 'Yes' or 'No' questions. Ted can also collect information through one-on-one or group interviews. The benefit of an interview is that, unlike a survey, this gives Ted the opportunity to ask follow-up questions. The interview can even be conducted remotely, such as over teleconferencing or the phone. Unfortunately, it can take significantly more time and work to conduct interviews as opposed to using questionnaires.

Unobtrusive Measurement

Another way of obtaining data is through observation. Ted realizes that sometimes, the presence of a researcher can influence the outcome of a study. People may behave in a way other than their normal, natural behavior if they are aware they are being watched. This isn't necessarily malicious, but it's a normal reaction to being under observation. Unobtrusive measurement refers to methods of data collection that do not require the researcher to be present or directly involved in the setting.

A good example would be to set up hidden cameras as opposed to having an observer with a clipboard take notes in real time. Another benefit of unobtrusive measurement is that the researcher is not constrained by the working hours of the organization. The researcher can review the recordings at a later time and has the benefit of being able to go back and rewatch the recordings as needed. This helps improve data accuracy.

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