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  • 00:11

    HARRIET CARMICHAEL: In everyday life, one of the best waysto find out about people is to talk to themand listen to them.Psychologists do this, too, in a variety of ways,known generally as "self-report methods."

  • 00:24

    DR. STEVE TAYLOR: So imagine we'recoming to your school or college as partof a psychological research study of education.And we're looking to get some self-report data from you.Well, one way we can do this is through a questionnaire.

  • 00:37

    HARRIET CARMICHAEL: And here, youcould add that you know the questionnaire was a researchinstrument devised by Francis Galton.

  • 00:46

    DR. STEVE TAYLOR: The key point to make about questionnairesis that they're structured.And a word that will help you here is "same."The questions are always the same.They're asked in exactly the same order,so everyone participating gets exactly the same thing.

  • 00:60

    HARRIET CARMICHAEL: Questions are usually closed.That is, you choose an answer from a number of options.And they can also be scaled, whereyou take your level of agreement or disagreementwith a statement.But they can be open, where you'regiven space to elaborate an answer in your own words.

  • 01:20

    HARRIET CARMICHAEL [continued]: Good questionnaire design involveskeeping questions short, easy to understand, and standardized.And above all, leading questions like thismust be avoided, because they direct participantsto answer in a particular way.

  • 01:37

    DR. STEVE TAYLOR: The questionnairehas a number of strengths.For example, we get lots of data quickly and cheaply.If questions are closed, the data are measurable,and if collection is standardized,it gives reliable data.The same questions can be asked over again and againto confirm the results.And because of these strengths, questionnaires

  • 01:58

    DR. STEVE TAYLOR [continued]: are widely used in psychology.What about their weaknesses, their limitations?Where do they fall short?

  • 02:08

    HARRIET CARMICHAEL: Well, first, questionnaire answers lackdepth.They can't tell us what you really think.Second, they lack flexibility.There's no opportunity for us to ask you follow-up questions.And third, if you don't understand a question,there's no way of clarifying it.And this can seriously compromise

  • 02:29

    HARRIET CARMICHAEL [continued]: the validity of the data.

  • 02:30

    DR. STEVE TAYLOR: But one of the ways we can get aroundthese problems is to come and talk to youface to face, with an unstructured or semi-structuredinterview.This will be more like a conversationwith follow-up questions.And so every interview would be different.And this has certain strengths compared to questionnaires.There'd be more depth, so we'll find out more

  • 02:50

    DR. STEVE TAYLOR [continued]: about your experiences of education.There'd be flexibility.We could ask follow-up questions,so interview data would have more validity,because unlike the questionnaire,we'd be able to clarify questions and answers,and find out what you mean.

  • 03:05

    HARRIET CARMICHAEL: But don't make the mistakemany students do of assuming the interview is alwaysbetter than the questionnaire.Because these strengths come at a price.

  • 03:17

    DR. STEVE TAYLOR: First there are time and cost issues.It'll take us a long time to analyze whatyou and other students tell us.Then there's interpretation and selection.Of all the masses of things you and other students tell us,we decide what's important and what's not.And that brings in possible observer bias.And third, the data will lack reliability,

  • 03:38

    DR. STEVE TAYLOR [continued]: because every interview will be different.

  • 03:41

    HARRIET CARMICHAEL: So both questionnaires and interviewshave their limitations.And this is where the skill of application comes in.

  • 03:49

    DR. STEVE TAYLOR: For example, if we want straightforwardfactual data such as where you live,parents' occupations, previous exam grades, and so on,we'd use a questionnaire, because elaboration is notreally necessary.But if we're looking for you to tell usabout, say, your experiences of education,an interview would be much better.So it's about selecting the best self-report method

  • 04:11

    DR. STEVE TAYLOR [continued]: for the research question.And don't forget, we can also triangulate--for example, use interviews to confirm or test thingsmentioned in questionnaires.

  • 04:22

    HARRIET CARMICHAEL: So far, we'vecompared self-report methods.But it's also important to identifyissues common to all self-report methods.

  • 04:31

    DR. STEVE TAYLOR: First, when you all answer our questions,you'll be using your memory, and that may not be reliable.Second, there may be demand characteristics.You might give us the answer you think we want,or the answer you think you ought to give.So for example, if we were in your school,and we ask you about how good you think you teachers are,you might say, "Very good," but that might not

  • 04:52

    DR. STEVE TAYLOR [continued]: be what you really think.Third Third, all self-report data lack ecological validity.

  • 05:01

    DR. STEVE TAYLOR: No matter how long we interview youfor, it will never tell us how you actuallybehave in real life.[MUSIC PLAYING]

Video Info

Series Name: Non-Experimental Research Methods

Publisher: ShortCutstv

Publication Year: 2017

Video Type:Tutorial

Methods: Survey research, Polling

Keywords: psychology; psychology and behavior

Segment Info

Segment Num.: 1

Persons Discussed:

Events Discussed:



Self report methods can include questionnaires and interviews. Learn about the strengths and weaknesses of these methods.

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Self Report Methods

Self report methods can include questionnaires and interviews. Learn about the strengths and weaknesses of these methods.

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