Research Design

First, read Chapter 2 in your textbook about ways to study people in personality psychology. Also

read Section 1.16 of Chapter 7 of the APA manual. on planning for ethical compliance. Review also 5
the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, specifically the section entitled General
Principles, which covers ethical guidelines for conducting psychological research. As you read, keep

in mind an example of each type of research design based on the track and topic you have chosen

for your final project PROMPT: In your initial past, present your own hypothetical research design

to your classmates. Be sure to address the following in your post: What ethical concerns related to

your research design have you identified? Further. how does your research design take into
consideration what you learned about reliability and validity? Cite examples from the module

readings to support your answers Please cite from Personality: Theory and Research by Cervone

Daniel 13th 7 6 and American Psychological Association 6th 1oAlso please see track doc I have

uploaded to you. Please reference this for the best research design.
THREE GENERAL STRATEGIES OF RESEARCH 43 Let’s introduce these three strategies now. You’ll see them again and again in
later chapters.


One strategy is to study individual persons in great detail. Many psychologists feel that in‐depth analyses of individual cases, or case studies, are the best way to capture the complexities of human personality.
In a case study, a psychologist interacts extensively with the individual who is the target of the study. In these interactions, the psychologist tries to develop an understanding of the psychological structures and processes that are most important to that individual’s personality. Using a term introduced previously, case studies inherently are idiographic methods in that the goal is to obtain a psychological portrait of the particular individual under study.
Case studies may be conducted purely for purposes of research. Historically, however, most case studies have been conducted as part of clinical treatment. Clinical psychologists, of course, must gain an understanding of the unique qualities of their clients in order to craft an intervention, so the clinical setting inherently provides case studies of personality. Case studies by clinicians have played an important role in the development of some major theories of person- ality. In fact, many of the theorists we will discuss in this book were trained as clinical psychologists, counseling psychologists, or psychiatrists. They initially tried to solve the problems of their patients and then used the insights obtained in this clinical setting to develop their theories of personality.
Case Studies: An Example
To illustrate the insights that can be gained by a systematic case study, we will consider work by the Dutch personality psychologist Hermans (2001). Hermans is interested in the fact that people’s thoughts about themselves—or their self‐concept—are generally multifaceted. People think of themselves as having a variety of psychological characteristics. These concepts about the self‐ develop as individuals interact with other people. Since each of us interacts with many different people, different aspects of our self‐concept might often be relevant to different situations that feature different individuals. You might see yourself as being serious and articulate when interacting with professors, fun loving and confident when hanging out with friends, and romantic yet anxious when on a date. To understand someone’s personality, then, it might be necessary to study how different aspects of the self‐come into play as people think about their life from different viewpoints that involve individuals who play different roles in their life. Hermans (2001) refers to these different view- points as different “positions” one can take in viewing oneself.
This view of the self‐concept raises a major challenge for most forms of research. Correlational and experimental studies generally provide a small amount of information about each of a large number of persons. But to under- stand the complexity of self‐concept as Hermans describes it requires a large amount of information about a person and the individuals and social circum- stances that make up that person’s life. When this level of detail about the individual is required, personality psychologists turn to the technique of case studies.

THREE GENERAL STRATEGIES OF RESEARCH 47 Table 2.1 Relation between Expression of Positive Emotions in Writing as Measured Early in Life and Longevity


Positive Emotion Words

Quartile I (low) Quartile II Quartile III Quartile IV (high)
Age Died (%)
79.9 55 81.1 59 79.7 33 79.0 21
SOURCE: Danner, D. D., Snowdon, D. A., & Friesen, W. V. (2001). Positive emotions in early life and longevity: Findings from the nun study. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 80, 804–813.
can be represented by counting the number of positive emotion words that were used in the autobiographies and dividing the population into quartiles (i.e., four groupings, each representing approximately one‐fourth of the population) ranging from low to high amounts of emotion words (Table 2.1). Of the nuns who had expressed a high amount of positive emotions, only about one‐fifth died during the observation period. Of the nuns who expressed low amounts of positive emotion, more than half died! This is true even though the high and low groups were of the same age at the beginning of the observation period.


One of the great achievements of science is not a research finding but a research method: the controlled experiment. The key feature of a controlled experiment is that participants are assigned at random to an experimental con- dition. The overall experiment contains a number of different conditions that manipulate one or more variables of interest. If people in one condition respond differently than people in another, then one can conclude that the variable that was manipulated causally influenced their responses. This con- clusion is valid precisely because people are assigned to conditions randomly. Random assignment assures that there is no systematic relationship between the experimental conditions and people’s preexperimental psychological ten- dencies. If people in different conditions act differently after the experimental manipulation, despite being the same before it occurred, then the manipula- tion was the cause of the differences in response. This research strategy, in which variables are manipulated through the random assignment of persons to different conditions, is the hallmark of experimental research.

Experimental Research: An Example

A powerful example of experimental research comes from the work of Steele (1997) and colleagues, who have investigated a phenomenon known as “ste- reotype threat.” Work on stereotype threat explores circumstances in which people are trying to perform well in front of others (e.g., they are taking an exam, and other people, such as the course instructor, will know how well they have performed). In such situations, there sometimes exist negative stereo- types concerning the performance of particular social groups. For example, according to some stereotypes, women may not be as good at math as men.

Last Updated on September 20, 2019

Don`t copy text!
Scroll to Top