UIC logo

Psychology 242
Research in Psychology
Dr. David J. McKirnan

Week 8
Descriptive research
& Qualitative Studies.

Lecture notes

Purposes of Descriptive Data

General overview of a type of behavior or group of people; Generate or test exploratory hypotheses

Quantitative data

  • Most common descriptive data
  • Simple counts all the way to complex hypothesis tests
Qualitative data

  • Ranges from unobtrusive to highly structured & participatory.
  • Often journalistic portrayal of behavior.
Existing / Archival data

  • Many large, rich sources of archival data.
  • Adapt to new or different hypothesis.
Basic design issues:

Time frame

  • Cross sectional
  • Longitudinal       
  • Case study
  • Test – retest
  • Split – half
  • Alpha (internal)

  • Face
  • Content
  • Predictive
  • Construct

Lecture notes are here.


Suggested background reading: "Descriptive, observaton or measurment studies".

Focus Modules:
Descriptive Research

For lecture & Discussion Group:

For this week read three articles that I will address in lecture:
Down Low
Pangea Speculative maps of the super-continent of Pangea, 250 and 135 million years ago.

Scientific findings in fields that seem remote from each other can influence mutual theory development.

Evidence from Paleontology about the distribution of dinosaur species has been useful in determining when the super-continent of Pangea broke up to form the current continents.  Recent Palentological data on a specific dinosaur species may be changing that time line.   Click the image to read about it, and click here for a good Pangea web site.

(Roll over the image to see Pangea shift...)

Discussion group Assignment

Introduction and Design of your paper due this week.

For this week you will re-write and expand your week 5 & 7 assignments to finish the introduction of your paper. Begin on the paper assignment web page to see what you need to cover. Be prepared to present your research ideas for feedback during discussion group; we will be pairing off again to review each other's proposal. Bring your assignment from last week and your worksheet from week 5.

Your assignment is to write one or two typed pages, but we strongly encourage you to submit a longer version as a first draft of your paper. Write this as a decent draft of the introduction & methods of your paper, not just as a homework assignment. The more work you do on this now the more feedback you can get in discussion group.


  • You must propose an experiment, not a correlational study; you must be manipulating the Independent Variable, not simply measuring it.
  • Keep it simple!!
    • Only one independent variable; a simple 2-group design
    • One dependent variable
    • Simple manipulations and measures
  • You must cite and submit the abstracts of two experimental (not correlational) studies.
    • When searching consider using "experiment" as a search term.
    • Do not get caught up in the statistics; read the text to figure out what the study is testing.