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Studying and identifying social phenomena is a difficult area of psychology and requires careful planning and controls To achieve this there are several available methods and procedures by which a social psychologist can follow thus attempting to identify and observe causal relationships in the social world This essay will explain what these methods are and show what good they have to offer a social psychologist as well as the disadvantages of these methods and assert which approach is the most useful of these methods and why There are two main groups that all these methods will fall into These are known as experimental methods and non-experimental methods and each group has sub-methods by which psychologists can carry out their research Non-experimental methods do not involve deliberately making changes to something to then study the effects that have resulted In other words there is no manipulation of an independent variable The investigator studies something that would have been altered even if no study were being conducted observes naturally occurring behaviour and asks questions to willing participants In contrast experimental methods do involve the manipulation of an independent variable In studies using experimental methods the investigator alters something an independent variable and then measures the effect the change has on something else this is known as the dependent variable All psychological approaches attempt to use certain basic criteria as a base for their research As a scientific discipline it is essential that psychology adopts scientific principles and methodology to carry out its research Scientists and therefore psychologists should approach their work objectively not relying on gut feelings or their own beliefs and opinions Psychologists should make objective observations of the thing they aim to study and then form a testable objectively observable hypothesis and a method by which to test the hypothesis Experimental methods allow this to take place the use of the experimental method enables the investigator to study cause and
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