What is a Case Study? - Research & Examples

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  • 0:00 Definition of a Case Study
  • 1:13 Like a Hole in the Head
  • 2:28 Memory
  • 3:38 Case Studies in Modern Science
  • 4:09 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Stephanie Foley

Stephanie has a BA & MA iin psychology and has taught for 13 years.

Where does all the information about our health and behavior come from? Scientists do very structured forms of research. While most forms of research require many, even thousands of human subjects, case studies are the exception. They may be about one person.

Definition of a Case Study

Brain injury, brain diseases, children raised without any human contact. What happens to people who have suffered in these ways, physically, emotionally, socially? How and where have their brains been damaged? Will they improve over time?

Luckily, some of these cases do not happen often. But when they do, psychologists study them very closely and thoroughly with the hopes of learning as much as possible about the victim and hopefully about our own brains. These studies of individual cases are called case studies. Unlike surveys and experiments that can include thousands of people, case studies may only be about one person.

With all forms of research, but especially true of case studies, researchers can learn about brain structures' purposes and how to develop therapies that help mend brains and help people recover functions. We know that young people recover better than older people after brain damage. But young people under age 35 are more likely to suffer brain damage because of car crashes. Without case studies, we would not be able to intensely chart a patient's recovery in order to use these successes for future patients.

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