Psychology research can focus on phenomena and processes at various levels. Includes physiology, brain activity and genetics; perception, cognition and individual behavior. It also encompasses interpersonal relationships and social interactions and broader cultural, economic, political and social factors.

One important thing to remember about basic research is that its potential applications may not be immediately obvious. During the early stages of basic research, scientists may not be able to see how information obtained from theoretical research could be applied to real-world problems. However, this fundamental knowledge is essential. By learning as much as possible about a topic, researchers are able to gather what they need to know about a matter to fully understand the impact it can have.

For example, early neuroscientists conducted basic research studies to understand how neurons work. This was when neuroscientists better understood how this neural functioning affected behavior. Understanding the basic knowledge of neural functioning became useful in helping individuals with disorders long after this research had been completed.

What Psychologists research

Many research psychologists investigate aspects of typical functioning. This includes how we feel and perceive the world around us, how we make decisions, and how we develop throughout our lives.

Research psychologists share the findings of their research in a variety of media. As an example we have the publication in peer-reviewed journals, the presentation at conferences and the conduct of talks in academic settings. In addition to conducting studies and experiments, research psychologists can also perform roles such as educators, professionals, and consultants.

Research by Mehl and colleagues

The research of Mehl and his colleagues is well described by this model. His question was whether women are more talkative than men. This was suggested to them both by the stereotypes of the people and by the published statements about the relative loquacity of women and men.

However, when they reviewed the research literature, they found that this issue had not been adequately addressed in scientific studies. Then they conducted a careful empirical study, analyzed the results finding very little difference between women and men. They later published their work to be part of the research literature. However, the publication of your article is not the end of the story. His work suggests many new questions about the reliability of the result, about possible cultural differences, etc. They will probably be taken over by them and other researchers inspired by their work.

Other Examples

As another example, as cell phones spread throughout the 1990s, people began to wonder whether and to what extent the use of cell phones had a negative effect on driving. Many psychologists decided to address this issue scientifically.

It was clear from the research published above that performing a simple verbal task impairs the performance of a perceptual or motor task performed at the same time. But no one had studied the specific effect of cell phone use on driving. Under carefully controlled conditions, these researchers compared people's performance while using a cell phone with their performance while not using a cell phone, both in the lab and on the road.

They found that people's ability to detect road hazards, reaction time and vehicle control were affected by cell phone usage. Each new study was published and became part of the growing research literature on this subject.

Who conducts scientific research in psychology?

Scientific research in psychology is usually carried out by people with doctoral degrees usually doctorate in [PhD] philosophy) and master's degrees in psychology and related fields. They are often supported by research assistants with bachelor's degrees or other relevant training. Some of them work for government agencies, national associations, non-profit organizations, or in the private sector.

However, most of them are professors of colleges and universities, who often collaborate with their graduate and undergraduate students. Although some researchers are trained and authorized to practice clinical medicine, especially those who conduct research in the field of clinical psychology, most are not.

Instead, they have experience in one or more of the many other subfields of psychology. Example of these we have behavioral neuroscience, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, personality psychology, social psychology, etc. Doctoral-level researchers can be employed to conduct full-time research. Or, like many faculty members of colleges and universities, to conduct research in addition to teaching and serving your institution and community in other ways.

Can only psychologists conduct research in psychology?

Of course, people also do research in psychology because they enjoy the intellectual and technical challenges that this entails and the satisfaction of contributing to scientific knowledge of human behavior. They may also enjoy the process. If so, your university may offer opportunities to participate in ongoing research, either as a research assistant or as a participant.

Of course, you may find that you don't enjoy the process of doing scientific research in psychology. But at least you'll better understand where scientific knowledge in psychology comes from. You'll also get an appreciation of its strengths and limitations, and an awareness of how it can be applied to solve practical problems in psychology and everyday life.

Broader purposes of scientific research in psychology

People have always been curious about the natural world, including themselves and their behavior. In fact, this is probably why you're studying psychology in the first place. Science arose from this natural curiosity and has become the best way to achieve detailed and accurate knowledge.

In a typical introductory psychology textbook, for example, you can learn about cortical areas specific to language and perception. You can also learn about people's surprising tendency to obey those in positions of authority. And scientific research continues because what we know right now only scratches the surface of what we can know.

Scientific Research

Scientific research is often classified as basic or applied. Basic psychology research is conducted mainly in order to achieve a more detailed and accurate understanding of human behavior. This without necessarily trying to address any particular practical problem. Research by Mehl and his colleagues fall into this category. Applied research is mainly done to address some practical problem.

Although the distinction between basic and applied research is convenient, it is not always well defined. For example, basic research on gender differences in loquacity could eventually have an effect on the way marriage therapy is practiced. Applied research on the effect of cell phone use on driving could produce new insights into the basic processes of perception, attention and action.

5 Research methods used in psychology

There are several different research methods that are used in psychology. The type of research used depends on the objectives of the research.

Case Study

It involves observing an individual or group of individuals over a period of time. The investigator interviews the subject or observes his behavior and records the information. Generally, this type of psychological research is used to show how the principles or theories of psychology are used in real practice. The case study method is widely used in vocational training.


Although presented as a broad type of research that can be a component of many methods, the term here is used to denote a specific procedure. There are also principles involved in their employment. One of them is the presence of a control group. It is an individual, or a group of individuals, who is not manipulated.

Another principle is the control of variables. That is, the experiment should be as free of foreign data as possible. A third principle is the consistency of measurements. The fourth principle is to show the cause and effect.

Observation study

It is systematic and carefully recorded. This type of research can be used as a precursor to other types that focus on a single issue.


The survey is a "shotgun" approach to research. It is a quantitative method that uses random sampling of subjects and is probably the only method of psychological research in which chance is used.

Content analysis

This method of research involves observing the media such as the press, television, radio and others for the repetition of specific words or phrases, or even ideas.

The research methods used in psychology depend on the types of data being studied and the purpose and breadth of the studies.

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