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The Importance of Research into Music

There has been much research into how much of an impact music can have on our behavior and thoughts. Although it can be seen as not such an important topic to research considering the many illness that could be researched (including cancer/ mental illness etc) who, in today’s society lives without the influence of music? No-one. Even if your not a music fanatic, everybody is influenced by it: it plays in shops to invite a certain type of target customer, it is played on adverts again to sell products, it is played at funerals to help remember a person and even played in hospitals to aid the healing process.

Pacchetti et al(2000) found that music therapy is an effective treatment for those with Parkinsons disease which shows the positive effect music can have. Not only did patients report a generally happier mood, lees stress and better quality of life but the physical symptoms of their illness also improved which shows the impact music can have on the the mind and body.

Music also encourages development in children: studies have shown those with lower development rates can improve speech, hand-eye coordination and other communication sills that are vital to development.

The point being made is that research into everyday experiences, such as music, can be overlooked when it can have such beneficial effects on society i.e. in schools, prisons etc. Research of this kind should be focused on more as it has a great usefulness.

 

Pacchetti et all(2000) Psychosomatic Medicine 62:386-393 (http://www.psychosomaticmedicine.org/content/62/3/386.short)

D.Aldridge, G Gustoff and L Neugebauer. A Pilot study of music therapy in the treatment of children with developmental delay. Complementary Therapies in Medicine (1995)3,4,197-205.

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Using animals in psychological research

Often in psychology animals are used as participants in research. Not only can it be seen as unethical but also unvalid.

Animals are used a lot in research into behavioral psychology- such as in Skinner’s experiments on pigeons and rats and also in Pavlov’s work on dogs. These experiments were very useful looking into how behaviour is learnt and formed basis for many theories.

In Skinners research with pigeons, in order for it to be effective he underfed the pigeons and reduced them to just 75% of their average body weight so they were permanently hungry. This can be seen as unethical and cruel- is it fair to put animals through tests to gain research?

Not only this but humans are very different to pigeons; humans can reason and have much higher intelligence levels so we cannot generalise this to us. Pigeons may learn through operant conditioning but they are not in the same situations as humans: they are not manipulated by media or restricted by law and they are not put through an education system.

Because of this I believe that animals should not be used in psychological research, it is unethical and unfair and does not gain valuable research.

 

Skinner, B.F Superstition in the pigeon Journal of Experimental Psychology, Vol 38(2), Apr 1948, 168-172. doi:10.1037/h0055873

Is Psychological Research Useful?

There are many different methods to research in psychology: experimental, observational, self report etc. Psychologists use different ones to conduct their research into a particular area/topic. How useful are these methods? Can the research be applied to our everyday lives?

When using the correlational method, relationships can be found between two variables. However, from a correlation you can not state which one caused the other. For example, if a relationship was found between playing violent video games and a child acting violently, you can not assume that it was the playing of the game that caused violent behaviour: it could be that a child with a violent personality (or a child that acts violent) is more likely to enjoy playing violent video games. Or it could even be a completely different variable that causes the two i.e- a child who often see’s older siblings acting violently and playing violent games may then go on to do both. So then, if we cannot make any real findings or conclusions, is this kind of research useful? Despite not being able to find a link, I believe that this is still useful- it could lead to further research and experiments that can draw conclusions and be useful.

Many psychologists use the experimental method to conduct their research- e.g Milgram(1963) Reicher and Haslam(2006) Geer and Maisel(1972). Experiments such as these can lead to interesting findings which can help in society to reduce problems or find reasons for bad behaviour which could possibly lead to a solution to these problems. So surely psychology is useful?

Lets look closer into one of my examples- Geer and Maisel(1972) who found that people who have control in their study showed less signs of stress. However, in real life, people don’t sit in a chair and look at pictures of car crash victims- stress can be caused by many different life experiences and little things that occur everyday. So does this mean that this research cannot be generalised to all causes of stress? That lack of control only makes stress worse when someone is in this position? But, when is anyone ever going to have to sit in a chair and look at car crash victims other than when participating in this research? So does this mean that it isn’t useful?

Also the participants were hooked up to a GSR and heart rate monitors and knew they were being experimented on- would this not effect the findings in a big way? If we cannot say for certain that the results are not affected by the measuring technique then the results cannot be applied to real life meaning the research can again, be seen as useless.

These are some of many flaws within researching psychology and the different methods forces me to question if it can be applied to our everyday lives and also to special cases such as leaning disabilities/depression. This in turn begs the question- Is psychological research really useful?

To me, psychology is important- some studies can be thrown into question and all research methods have their flaws and their good points. Maybe nothing can ever be fully proven in psychology due to these flaws but this shouldn’t make it completely useless- even in science nothing is ever fact: there are only ever theories. But society benefits from science, as it does from psychology.

Repeated Measures, Matched Pairs and Independent design: which design has fewer flaws?

When conducting research in psychology, in the form of an experiment you need to decide on an experimental design. The three main designs used are: repeated measures, matched pairs and independent design. All three have flaws but is it possible that one can bring higher validity to an experiment than others?

Independent measures design can minimise the chances of order effects occurring as different participants are used, however a main problem of this design is individual differences / participant variables. How do we know if our results are reliable or if there was a difference between the ability of the different groups that showed through the different variables?

Repeated measures dismiss’ the problem of individual differences which highers the validity of the study. However, by using the same participants in each condition, order effects are likely to occur such as: the participants getting bored, feeling fatigue or fed up by the time of the second condition, or even getting more knowledgeable to the requirements of the test which in turn may lead to demand characteristics. Charles Stangor(2010) wrote that “repeated measures research designs represent a useful alternative to standard between participants designs in cases where carryover effects are likely to be minimal.” This shows that although repeated measures has a big flaw, order effects, in some cases this may sill be the best option for the experiment.

Matched pairs helps to combine the both to decrease problems such as individual differences and order effects: two sets of participants are used but they are matched on factors such as age, sex and social background. This can be seen as effective, however, no two participants can be matched exactly- even identical twins may have different thinking or life experiences. This is also very time consuming.

As all three have factors with lower validity this can become a problem for the experiment: we need to know that we are measuring what we say we are measuring and not order effects or individual differences.

Overall I think that repeated measures is the most important and can have fewer flaws especially when counterbalancing is used: meaning that this method should be used more often in experimental research. However, there are some cases in which it can only be an independent measure is used- For example in Maguire et al’s research on taxi drivers’ brains, he two conditions were those who were taxi drivers in London and those who weren’t.

When an option is available to choose from I feel that repeated measures design is the best method to use as it can higher validity.

Are Statistics Important in Psychology?

This is my first blog which instead of posting I saved as a draft and so uploading now to do the second part of my assignment and comment on other peoples.

Statistics are commonly used in psychological research but does it help or hinder research and is it essential to the subject?

Statistics are fundamental to the study of psychology as it forms the basis of the subjects’ science reputation. Without quantitative data there would be no analytical proof of findings- figures that can be put into graphs, analysed and so allow for a reliable and accurate conclusion that is backed up with proof.

However, statistics can be manipulated to give a more interesting and shocking result that fits in better with a hypothesis or theory. For example to show a certain pattern of behaviour that may not necessarily be there if a different statistical measurement was undertaken. This could mean that rather than being important to the research of psychology it may make it unreliable and undermine the study as a whole as the conclusions could be drawn off false results and information.

Despite this I feel that statistics are the pinnacle of research in psychology: without them psychology would be based purely on theory and would have no scientific base or solid foundation to weight the research. In addition to this, quantitative data is much easier to compare than qualitative data- statistics can be compared by methods such as graphs. Underwood(1949) researches into the experimental design: “I believe that the factual subject matter can be comprehended readily without a statistical knowledge, but a full appreciation of experimental design problems requires some statistical thinking”. From this I, whether or not you can try to get through experiments without statistics, it is still required somewhere or at some point in your research. For this reason psychology would not be the subject it is today and would not reach the findings it does without the use of statistics.