Different types of psychological methods include tests, observations, surveys, case studies and experiments. Once the study has been undertaken, how might the data be presented?
Table of Results
A table of results is generally a neat and clear way of showing basic data. Say for instance an experiment tested volunteers on their memory skills while in a noisy environment (condition one) and a quiet environment (condition two), the results could be listed in a table showing the memory scores of each volunteer under the two conditions.
Tables might be used when numbers of values are small. Be sure numbers line up neatly and consistently; include text labels and units to show what the numbers mean and use consistent units and scale factors.
A table of results is a good way to present raw data but as the main purpose of an experiment is usually to compare performances of individuals, or groups, a graph might be a better visual representation, allowing an instant illustration of comparison between scores.
A simple bar chart or histogram will show the scores of each individual or group in condition one and compare it to a bar chart of condition two. Another way to show a comparison between scores is to present information as a frequency distribution. This is a graph to show how many volunteers achieved each score. Frequency distributions give a clearer picture and make it easier to compare results. A frequency distribution can be graphed as a histogram or pie chart.
Flow charts list the order of activities and help to identify the flow or sequence of events or information. Charts and graphs are often an easier and better way to present large amounts of information. They give a visual indication of similarities, differences and a comparison of performances.
Quantitative and Qualitative Data
- Quantitative data is data that relates to or measures the quantity of something for example the number of people who can memorise ten items in one minute.
- Qualitative data is data that can be captured that is not numerical in nature, for example colours, textures, smells and tastes
- Descriptive Statistics – Statistical methods used to summarise or describe a collection of data. This can be numerically or through tables and graphs.
- Inferential Statistics – Inferential Statistics are used to model patterns in the data to account for randomness and to draw up inferences about the larger population.
- Gross & Humphreys P. Psychology The Science of Mind and behaviour Study Guide. London: Hodder & Stoughton. 1993.
- Neisser U. Cognitive Psychology. New York: Appleton-Century Crofts. 1977.