Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Psychology Research

Research Methods in Psychology

On this page, you will find an overview of different research methods in psychology and e-Books about quantitative and qualitative research.

Qualitative vs. Quantitative

Research Methods in Psychology is categorized into two general methods:

1.  Qualitative  2.  Quantitative 

Use your senses to express the research results.


Use instruments such as rulers, balances,

graduated cylinders, beakers, and thermometers

to express the research results.


Qualitative Research

Non-numerical evidence, usually examined in its raw form.

Used when a researcher wants to understand people's

opinions, idiosyncratic responses to an event, motivations, or underlying reasons for actions or decisions.

Example:  Interviewing the victims of a natural disaster to gather a range of emotional responses.

Quantitative Research

Numbers!  Collected as numerical data or converted into numerical data and examined using statistical methods of analysis.

Used to examine trends and compare populations.

Example:  Asking victims of a natural disaster to rank their feelings of anxiety using a pre-determined scale.

When to use them

Psychological research is best when it uses complementary quantitative and qualitative approaches together in the same study, a method called triangulation.

Example: Observing parent-child interactions while watching tv then comparing those observations to measured rates of social and cognitive development in the children who participated in the study.

The Research Continuum


eBooks about Qualitative and Quantitative methods and how to incorporate them into your research.

Common Psychology Research Methods

Qualitative Research Methods

Quantitative Research Methods

1.  Observational Studies

The researchers record data by studying participants

at a distance.  Researchers try not to influence the

participants or their actions.  Types of observational

studies include:

  • Naturalistic Observation
  • Participant Observation 
  • Ethnography.



1.  Archival Research

A researcher applies their own analytical model to data that has already been collected.  They attempt to answer a new question or discover a new trend by looking at old data.

Typical sources of archival data include:

  • census data
  • court records
  • medical records, 
  • and even case files from other researchers.

2.  Case Studies

The researcher will collect and write detailed accounts of individual lives. A case study can combine a few research approaches, including interviews, observational data, and archival data.

Examples of Case Studies include Freud's history of Anna O link will open in a new window., and the stories related in Oliver Sacks's best selling book The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hatlink will open in anew window.

3.  Questionnaires

Participants are asked a standard set of questions.  These questions may be delivered in writing or through an interview format.

There are three main types of questionnaire methods:



4.  Applied and Field research

Researchers are trying to find a solution to an immediate, practical problem.  Examples include reducing drug use or improving worker happiness. 

Field research is a type of applied research that is undertaken in a non-laboratory setting. These settings may include a hospital or workplace


5.  Experimental Research

Research conducted in a controlled environment.  The results help scholars in the field to learn more about psychological processes such as cognition or emotional development.