AQA A-level - Paper 2 - Psychology in Context

Research Methods

AQA Specification: 


Experimental method. Types of experiment, laboratory and field experiments; natural and quasi experiments.


Observational techniques. Types of observation: naturalistic and controlled observation; covert and overt observation; participant and non-participant observation.


Self-report techniques. Questionnaires; interviews, structured and unstructured.


Correlations. Analysis of the relationship between co-variables. The difference between correlations and experiments.


Content analysis.


Case studies.

Aims: stating aims, the difference between aims and hypotheses. Hypotheses: directional and non-directional.Sampling: the difference between population and sample; sampling techniques including: random, systematic, stratified, opportunity and volunteer; implications of sampling techniques, including bias and generalisation.Pilot studies and the aims of piloting.Experimental designs: repeated measures, independent groups, matched pairs.Observational design: behavioural categories; event sampling; time sampling.Questionnaire construction, including use of open and closed questions; design of interviews.Variables: manipulation and control of variables, including independent, dependent, extraneous, confounding; operationalisation of variables.Control: random allocation and counterbalancing, randomisation and standardisation. • Demand characteristics and investigator effects.Ethics, including the role of the British Psychological Society’s code of ethics; ethical issues in the design and conduct of psychological studies; dealing with ethical issues in research.The role of peer review in the scientific process.The implications of psychological research for the economy.Reliability across all methods of investigation. Ways of assessing reliability: test-retest and interobserver; improving reliability.Types of validity across all methods of investigation: face validity, concurrent validity, ecological validity and temporal validity. Assessment of validity. Improving validity.Features of science: objectivity and the empirical method; replicability and falsifiability; theory construction and hypothesis testing; paradigms and paradigm shifts.Reporting psychological investigations. Sections of a scientific report: abstract, introduction, method, results, discussion and referencing.

Quantitative and qualitative data; the distinction between qualitative and quantitative data collection techniques.Primary and secondary data, including meta-analysis.Descriptive statistics: measures of central tendency – mean, median, mode; calculation of mean, median and mode; measures of dispersion; range and standard deviation; calculation of range; calculation of percentages; positive, negative and zero correlations.Presentation and display of quantitative data: graphs, tables, scattergrams, bar charts, histograms.Distributions: normal and skewed distributions; characteristics of normal and skewed distributions.Analysis and interpretation of correlation, including correlation coefficients.Levels of measurement: nominal, ordinal and interval.Content analysis and coding. Thematic analysis.

Introduction to statistical testing; the sign test.


Probability and significance: use of statistical tables and critical values in interpretation of significance; Type I and Type II errors.


Factors affecting the choice of statistical test, including level of measurement and experimental design. When to use the following tests: Spearman’s rho, Pearson’s r, Wilcoxon, Mann-Whitney, related t-test, unrelated t-test and Chi-Squared test.

Bonus Video - Answering the Design a Study Question

Additional Resources

TBC 2020

External Links

TBC 2020

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