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IB Psychology

The Challenges of Observational Studies

If I want to study how the relationship between teachers and students affect the quality of learning, I would conduct my study in a classroom. I would conduct a structured observation to observe the interactions between students and teachers, after categorizing the relationship, i would look at students’ marks.  The reason i would choose this observational method is because my goal is to see how quality of learning is affected by the relationship between students and teachers. I am only determined to observe some behaviors, instead of all.

The strengths of using naturalistic observation is that it provides ecological validity. The teacher and students will behave more naturally under the environment. This is better for researcher to observe the more accurate relationship between teachers and students. However, there is also risk that the students or teacher might react to being observed. Especially if the groups of students being observed is under stress and etc. This can even led to bias in the result (in the interaction with teacher, the quality of learning being affected by the fact they are being observed).



Methodological Considerations

  1. What could be the reason for choosing a thematic analysis of the interviews:
    • to examine the reason in which the heterosexual woman and homosexual man develops positive friendships.
  2. What is the advantage of making a verbatim transcript:
    • to evaluate each participants’ responses carefully: the verbatim transcript allows the researchers to look at their responses repeatedly.
  3. Why do you think the researcher revealed in the research report that she was a heterosexual women who had a friendship with a gay man
    • in order to maintain credibility and also to take possible bias into account.
  4. How did the researcher address issues of credibility
    • reveals any potential factors that might influence the interpretation of the data.
  5. How did the researcher address the issues of trustworthiness
    • she checks with other researchers to confirm that her analysis is grounded in the data.
  6. Is it possible to generalize the findings from this study? Why or why not?
    • yes, the results were quite consistent. It can be assumed that there is usually a positive relationships between heterosexual women and homosexual men due to various reasons (some are listed in page 364)

Strength and Limitations of the Interview

For this kind of subject, i think the narrative interview would be the best way to collect the most information. This is because narrative interview is able to explore the complexity of one’s experience thus contributing the collection of informations. However, i also think that there is a chance that the participants might not open up as discuss as much information if they are just put in an interview and have to talk about their experience right away. Therefore i think it is necessary to add some elements of semi-structured interview into the narrative interview style.

Exercises on pg 350 and 353- September 29thd

page 350:

  • purposive sampling: because the target population is defined in the experiment and has already decided which criteria should be used for sampling
  • convenience sampling: the  researcher can go to a football game and simply ask some audience if they would like to participate.
  • how to eliminate the participants to only football fans

page 353:

    1. provide sufficient details about issues that may potentially bias the investigation
    2.  make the researcher aware of his or her own contribution to the construction of meaning in the research process.
  1. this approach take in to the account of the elements in researcher’s that may affect the experiment outcome.

Quantitate and Qualitative Data Mind map

Mind Map

Strength and Limitation of Grigoriou 2004

The general limitations of qualitative research that apply to this study are that sample was small therefore it can only represents a small portion of the population and the questions that the researchers posted are also very leading, therefore the data might be bias. In addition, the participants are not studied in their own environment, as we know from “The researcher reported that some gay men did report drawbacks and problems in relation to friendships with other gay men in a way that they probably would not have done if they had been interviewed by a gay man” (Crane and Hannibal, 362); this limitation can cause some inaccuracies in the data.

I think that this study is credible research because of its strengths: it provide rich data, it identify and evaluate factors that contribute to solving a problem, and it generate new ideas and theories to explain and overcome problems. The research outcome provides a valid conclusion (Crane and Hannibal, 363).

To identify if music has effect on human’s blood pressure


To identify if music can influence human’s blood pressure.


If one listens to fast music, then the blood pressure would increases, while if one listens calm music, one’s blood pressure would reduce because of the variety of tempo. Study has shown that with faster tempo, one presents significantly increased ventilation, breathing rate, SBP and DBP, mid-cerebral artery blood flow velocity and heart rate, while slower tempo, one’s heart rate would have less effect on the human body and the heart rate would slow down. (Brooke, Linda)

How to obtain a representative sample from a target population:

I would randomly select a group of participants from a population where no one has hypertension (high blood pressure), hypotension (low blood pressure), or any diseases that affect their blood pressure.


  1. randomly select a group of participants from the population as described in “How to obtain a representative sample from a target population” 
  2. Ask for consents and inform them their rights base on the ethical guideline in page 22 of Psychology Course Companion by John Crane and Jette Hannibal
  3. play 2 sets of slow music to each participants (i.e. landfill, tranquil landscape)
  4. measure heart rate and record them neatly on a table
  5. repeat steps 3-4 two more times
  6. play 2 sets of fast music to each participants (i.e your love is my drug, take me home)
  7. measure heart rate and record them neatly on a table
  8. repeat steps 6-7 two more times
  9. calculate the average and put into excel.

How to ensure my experiment is ethical: 

I will reveal my aim to the participants at the beginning of the experiment and ensure their rights: the ability to withdraw from the experiment at any time; confidentiality of the profile. I will strictly follow the ethics list in Psychology Course Companion page 22.


Brookes, Linda. “Music Can Reduce Blood Pressure, Depending on the Tempo.” Medscape. Mescape Education. Web. 22 Sept. 2015.

Exercises on pg 18, 21, 22- September 22nd

page 18:


aim: whether teachers’ expectations of students’ performance have any effect on how well the students learned throughout the year.


1. randomly select 18 classes of students (from kindergarten to sixth grade)

2. give them an intelligence test

3. chose 20% of the students at random and tells teachers that “these children showed “unusual potential for intellectual growth, and that they could be expected to “bloom” during the year.”  

4. retest the 18 classes of students’ intelligence at the end of the year 

5. analyze the data 

findings: the 20% that labelled intelligent showed a significantly greater increase in the test scores than the other children who were not singled out for the teacher’s attention.

2. I do not think that the teachers were informed by this. Without the information, it is easier to focus on the ‘labelled’ intelligent students and therefore show they complete enthusiasm towards them. This is unethical base on the guideline, where the participants were not informed the aim of the study. However, this could be interpreted as slight deception, and if at the end of the experiment Rosenthal and Jacobson inform all of the participants, this experiment can be classified as ethical.

page 21:

  1. if i use an opportunity sample at a local fitness centre, there will definitely be some group of people overrepresented and some underrepresented. For example, the people who are more frequent in the fitness centre (thus bigger chance to be interviewed) has a stronger motivation; while the people who are less frequent in the fitness centre (thus less chance to be interviewed) has a weaker motivation, yet they are still important to the research.
  2. No I would not get a more representative sample if i advertised for participants in my school. At fitness centre, it can be assumed that most people engage in exercise with motivation (reason), while in school it is hard to determine who exercises and who does not.

page 22:

  • After rereading the research carried out by Rosenthal and Jacobson, i think the experiment is unethical to the sense that they used deception and did not inform the participants their consents and rights to withdrawal and confidentiality of the data.

The Aversion Project

The Aversion Project 

The army psychiatrists shows no empathy or signs of treating the homosexual soldiers like human during the experiment. The ‘sex change’ therapy exemplifies the homophobic attitude in the 20th century. The study was unethical because it does not treat the soldiers equally as human and does not respect their sexuality. With the horrible therapies such as chemical castration, shock therapy and other unethical medical experiments, the homosexual soldiers experienced horrific treatment just because of gender they chose to love.

After reading the Course Companion E-text, my judgement still stands. The Aversion Project is unethical due to several reasons: it caused physical and mental harm to the participants, it was forced conducted therefore the experiment had no consent, and the participants cannot withdraw when they want to.

I believe sometimes it is necessary to place the defense of the country above the defense of an individual’s human rights in some cases. However, as a whole, individual human rights should always be a priority unless he/she is a danger to national defense or to a bigger scale. I understand that this is unethical yet I do not think protecting an individual’s human rights should be prior to protecting a nation’s safety.

A National Hero

Convention (III) relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War

Torture and Psychology

Top 10 Unethical Psychological Experiments

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