What Are The Different Kinds of Research Methods?

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  • 0:01 Research Methods
  • 0:27 Observational Research
  • 1:36 Correlational Research
  • 2:52 Experimental Research
  • 4:03 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson will go over some important research methods, including observation, correlation, and experimentation, as well as examples of each type of methodology.

Research Methods

Have you ever wondered how scientists prove or disprove all sorts of stuff, ranging from correlations between a certain drug and cancer risk to the way animals behave? Well, depending on what is being studied, researchers can use more than one research method to find out more about their questions. You may have even employed some research methodology as you observed your little brother and tried to figure out why in the world he's sucking on his thumb.

Observational Research

Your observations fell into the category of observational research, which is a type of research method that records observations of phenomena. So, as a more appropriate example, perhaps you are studying for possible behavioral changes in primates after they give birth. Maybe you travel to the rainforests of Africa or to a zoo to watch how a mother-to-be changes her behavior before and after birth, how long she performs each behavior, and so on.

Observational research may be split into naturalistic observation and participant observation. In naturalistic observation, the observer sits back and watches behavior without manipulating different variables that may influence the results. It would be like watching a bunch of people sitting in an ice cream shop from afar.

This is in contrast to participant observation, where the researchers insert themselves into the group being observed. Meaning, the researcher goes to the ice cream shop, buys some ice cream, and sits and even interacts amongst the people he or she is observing.

Correlational Research

Observational research is a type of correlational research, a research method that examines statistical relationships between variables. A famous example of correlational research is smoking and lung disease. Lots of data on these variables is collected, and it is then analyzed to figure out if there is any covariation between the two. However, you shouldn't immediately think of this as a cause-and-effect type of research just because of what I said.

A simple explanation from one of my favorite books, The Art of Happiness, will point out what I mean. This book, written by the Dalai Lama and psychiatrist Howard Cutler, had a little interesting section. In short, very intelligent researchers were positing that mood changes occurred as a result of chemical imbalances in the brain (a type of cause-and-effect belief). But the Dalai Lama asked them, why couldn't it be that the mood changes caused those imbalances?

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