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Example Answers for Research Methods: A Level Psychology, Paper 2, June 2018 (AQA)


Last updated 19 Jun 2018

Section C – Research Methods: Q12 [1 Mark]

C = 27%

Section C – Research Methods: Q13 [3 Marks]

Pilot studies are small-scale prototypes of a study that are carried out in advance of the full research to find out if there are any problems with the methodology. This helps to ensure that time, effort and money are not wasted on a flawed methodology.

One possible reason why the psychologist decided to conduct a pilot study for this investigation could be to ensure that their measuring instrument generated the data required, in this case, that the questions relating to dreams in the interview produced valid responses from participants.

Section C – Research Methods: Q14 [2 Marks]

Qualitative data is non-numerical, language-based data expressed in words which are collected through semi/unstructured interviews and open-ended questions in a questionnaire.

One strength of collecting qualitative data in this study is the rich detail obtained by the researcher. Since participants can develop their responses about their dreams freely, this provides meaningful insights into dreaming which enhances the external validity as findings are more likely to represent an accurate real-world view.

Section C – Research Methods: Q15 [3 Marks]

Investigator effects are where a researcher, consciously or unconsciously, acts in a way to support their research prediction. This can be a particular problem when observing events that can be interpreted in more than one way.

Investigator effects can be minimised by not allowing either the participants or the researcher to know the aim of the dream research. This is achieved by using a double-blind experimental technique. In this instance, only the person who originally designed the experiment knows the true aim about whether dream themes differed between males and females. The person carrying out the interview and the interviewee would be blind to the aim of the experiment; this would reduce the opportunity for either party to manipulate responses to support the research aim.

Section C – Research Methods: Q16 [4 Marks]

The other researcher would read through the dream interview data, highlighting important points of reference and annotate the margins with comments. Using these comments, the researcher would categorise the data, e.g. evidence of social interaction. This process will be repeated for each interview transcript.

Once completed, the categories which emerged through the process of analysing the content are reviewed. With the well-defined (operationalised) categories, the researcher then returns to the original interview data and tallies the occurrence of each ‘behaviour’ accordingly. The qualitative data has now undergone analysis to produce quantitative data which can undergo further analysis such as statistical testing.

Section C – Research Methods: Q17 [4 Marks]

Inter-rater reliability refers to the extent to which two or more researchers are rating or recording behaviour in a consistent way. This is a particularly useful way of ensuring reliability in situations where there is a risk of subjectivity, such as a content analysis of dreams, to make sure that the categories are being used in the correct manner.

Another independent psychologist would observe the same data set from the original interviews, and then their categories and tallies would be correlated to see whether they are suitably similar. If reliability is found to be poor, the categories used in the first content analysis will need to be refined and then re-categorised in order to achieve consistency.

Section C – Research Methods: Q18 [2 Marks]

  • 375 / 100 = 37.5 
  •  37.5 x 60 = 225

Section C – Research Methods: Q19 [4 Marks]

Section C – Research Methods: Q20 [6 Marks]

Dear Participant, you are volunteering to take part in a psychological research study about the effects of watching films before going to bed. In this study, you will watch a horror film or a romantic comedy film every night for one week each before going to bed. When you wake up each morning, you will receive a text message from the researcher asking you a question, to which there will be a yes/no response. The study will last for two weeks however you have the right to withdraw your participation from the research study at any time without explanation. You also have the right to ask that any data you have supplied to be withdrawn. You may ask any questions about the procedures before the study begins. The data we collect from you will be treated confidentially. Please sign below to consent that you agree to participate in this study.

Section C – Research Methods: Q21 [3 Marks]

Participants who watch a horror movie before bed are more likely to report ‘yes’ that they have had a nightmare when asked the following morning via text message, compared to participants who watched a romantic comedy film before bed.

Section C – Research Methods: Q22 [2 Marks]

A repeated measures design was used in this case so that the same participants took part in each condition (horror/romantic comedy). This way, there is less chance of individual differences, such as personality style or film preferences, affecting whether the participants reported a nightmare or not, and any differences found are thought to be the result of the IV affecting that person.

Section C – Research Methods: Q23 [2 Marks]

As the same participants took part in both conditions of the experiment, order effects can occur. To address this issue, the researcher can use counterbalancing which offsets any order effects as half the participants take part in ‘Condition A’ followed by ‘Condition B’ while the other half complete the ‘Condition B’ followed by ‘Condition A’. Any order effects experienced by those who started in Condition A should be offset by those who started in Condition B. 

Section C – Research Methods: Q24 [3 Marks]

In order to split the sample randomly, every participant who volunteered for this study has an equal chance of being selected for Group 1 or Group 2.  This would involve the psychologist identifying everyone in the sample and writing their names on a piece of paper before placing them all in a hat. Then the psychologist would select the number of pieces of paper from the hat according to the number of participants required for each group, in this case 25. The remaining 25 in the hat would form the second group.

Section C – Research Methods: Q25 [4 Marks]

With a mean score of 2.18 nightmares in 7 days being reported for horror films, compared to 0.30 on average for romantic comedy films, this suggests that watching horror films before bed is more likely to induce a nightmare as significantly more nightmares were reported by participants, on average, in this condition. However, with a standard deviation of 1.48 for the horror film condition, it suggests that there is a large spread of results around the mean. This means that some participants reported far more nightmares and some far fewer nightmares than other participants, meaning the range in data was large.

On the other hand, with a standard deviation of 0.61 for the romantic comedy condition, this suggests that the number of nightmares reported from all participants in this group were more similar to one another as the spread around the mean is less.

Section C – Research Methods: Q26 [2 Marks]

Significant at p<0.05 means that there is a 5% chance that findings of this experiment are the result of chance and a 95% confidence level that any difference seen in the results is because of the manipulation of the independent variable. In this case, the researchers can be 95% confident that the number of nightmares reported (DV) was affected by the type of film watched (horror or romantic comedy), before going to bed.

Section C – Research Methods: Q27 [3 Marks]

In experimental research, a control group is often used in order to improve validity. This allows psychologists to see whether the independent variable influences the dependent variable. For example, the researchers could modify their research by having an experimental group who watch the horror and romantic comedy movies and report the number of nightmares in the morning and a control group who do not watch any movies at all before bed but still report the incidence of their nightmares over the same two-week period. In this case, using a control group would allow a comparison to see whether the films were truly causing a higher incidence of nightmares, thus giving greater confidence in the validity of the research.

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