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Principles of Research in Behavioral Science


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Table of Contents

Part 1. Introduction

Chapter 1: Behavioral Science


Goals of Science

Key Values of Science

Scientific Approaches to Knowledge


Components of Theories

Characteristics of Theories

Purposes of Theories

Criteria for Evaluating Theories


The Research Process

Evaluating Research

Inference in Research

Theory, Research, and Application

The Interdependence of Theory, Research, and Application

The Uses of Behavioral Science and Theory

Chapter Summary

Suggestions for Further Reading

Key Terms


Chapter 2: Research Strategies: An Overview

Purposes of Research

Basic and Applied Research

Evaluation Research

Action Research

Quantitative and Qualitative Research

Research Strategies

The Experimental Strategy

The Case Study Strategy

The Correlational Strategy

Comparing the Strategies

Time Perspectives: Short Term Versus Long Term

Developmental Research

Prospective Research

Outcome Evaluation

Research Settings: Laboratory Versus Field

Research Strategies and Research Settings

Research Settings and Research Participants

Chapter Summary

Suggestions for Further Readings

Key Terms


Chapter 3: The Ethical Treatment of Research Participants

Responsibility for Ethical Research

Ethical Considerations While Planning Research

Risk of Harm or Deprivation

Voluntary Participation

Informed Consent


Ethical Obligations During Data Collection

Avoidance of Harm

Withdrawal of Consent

Ethical Considerations Following Data Collection

Alleviating Adverse Effects


Compensation of Control Groups

Confidentiality of Data

The Institutional Review Board

Membership of the IRB

Criteria for approving research

Review procedures

Research Ethics in Cultural Context

Examples of Ethical Issues

Some Guidelines

Chapter Summary

Suggested Readings

Key Terms


Part 2: Foundations of Research

Chapter 4: The Professional and Social Responsibilities of Scientists

Mistakes and Errors in Research

Consequences of Error

Incompetence and Negligence

Questionable Research Practices

Correcting Mistakes and Errors

Scientific Misconduct

Data Fabrication

Preventing Scientific Misconduct

Ethical Issues in Publication

Authorship Credit

Duplicate Publication


Using the Results of Research

The Application of Research Results

Influencing Decision Makers

Researcher’s Responsibilities

Research and the Common Good

Is Applied Research More Ethical Than Basic Research?

Should Research on Some Topics Be Banned or Restricted?

Is There an Ethical Obligation to Conduct Research?

Chapter Summary

Suggestions for Further Reading

Key Terms


Chapter 5: Formulating a Research Question

Formulating Research Hypotheses

Establishing a Background

Choosing a Topic

Formulating the Question

Reviewing the Literature

Formulating Hypotheses

Designing the Study

Writing the Research Proposal

Replication Research

Forms of Replication

Interpreting the Results of Replication Research

Considerations in Conducting Replication Research

Replication as Part of a Systematic Research Program

Designing Research for Utilization

Knowledge Utilization

Design Considerations

Dissemination of Research Results

Bias in the Formulation of Research Questions

Personal Values

Biased Assumptions

Avoiding Bias

Chapter Summary

Suggestions for Further Reading

Key Terms


Chapter 6: Developing a Measurement Strategy

Reliability and Validity

Manifest Variables and Hypothetical Constructs

Reliability, Validity, and Measurement Error

Assessing Reliability

Forms of Reliability

Choosing Among the Forms of Reliability

Standards for Reliability

Item Response Theory

Assessing Validity

Categories of Validity Evidence

Discriminant Validity

Relationships Among the Categories of Validity Evidence

Determining a Measure’s Degree of Validity

Modalities of Measurement

Self-Report Measures

Behavioral Measures

Physiological Measures

Implicit Measures

Choosing a Measurement Modality

Locating and Evaluating Measures

Categories of Measures

Locating Measures

Evaluating Measures

Chapter Summary

Suggestions for Further Reading

Key Terms


Chapter 7: The Internal Validity of Research


Natural Confounds

Treatment Confounds

Measurement Confounds

Threats to Internal Validity

Time-Related Threats

Control Groups in Pretest-Posttest Research

Theoretical Validity

Selection Threats

Volunteer bias

Preexisting groups



Sources of Reactivity

Evaluation apprehension

Controlling Reactivity

Demand Characteristics

Sources of Demand Characteristics

Participant Roles

Controlling Demand Characteristics

Experimenter Expectancies

Types of Expectancy Effects

Techniques of Control

Enhancing Internal Validity


Suggestions for Further Reading

Key Terms


Chapter 8: The External Validity of Research

The Concept of External Validity

Aspects of External Validity

Components of External Validity

The Structural Components of External Validity

Setting Factors

Participant Sample Factors

Research Procedure Factors

Cultural Factors

Time Factors

Time sampling

Changes over time

The Functional and Conceptual Components of External Validity

The Functional Component

The Conceptual Component

Relationships Among the Components of External Validity

Assessing External Validity

Assessing Generalizability

Assessing Ecological Validity

Laboratory Research, Natural Setting Research, and External Validity

Laboratory Research and Ecological Validity

External Validity and Internal Validity

Chapter Summary

Suggestions for Further Reading

Key Terms


Part 3: Research Design

Chapter 9: True Experiments

Manipulating the Independent Variables

Conditions of the Independent Variable

Additional Control and Comparison Conditions

Characteristics of a Good Manipulation

Using Multiple Stimuli

Controlling Extraneous Variance

Holding Extraneous Variables Constant

Between-Subjects Designs

Within-Subjects Designs

Multiple-Group Designs

Quantitative Independent Variables

Qualitative Independent Variables

Interpreting the Results of Multiple-Group Experiments

Factorial Designs

The Nature of Factorial Designs

Interaction Effects

Forms of Factorial Designs

Uses for Factorial Designs

Chapter Summary

Suggestions for Further Readings

Key Terms


Chapter 10: Field Research

The Problem of Control in Field Settings

Control Over Variables

Control Over Research Populations

Field Experiments

Choosing a Research Setting

Implementing the Independent Variable

Problems in Field Experimentation

Natural Experiments and Quasi-Experiments

The Group Comparison Approach

The Time Series Approach

Naturalistic Observation

Categories of Naturalistic Observation

Nonparticipant observation

Coding Natural Behaviors

Problems in Naturalistic Observation

Chapter Summary

Suggestions for Further Reading

Key Terms


Chapter 11: Correlational Designs

The Nature of Correlational Research

Simple Correlation Analysis

Assumptions of Linearity and Additivity

Factors Affecting the Correlation Coefficient

Multifaceted Constructs

Some Recommendations

Partial Correlation Analysis

Multiple Regression Analysis (MRA)

Forms of MRA

Information Provided by MRA

The Problem of Multicollinearity

MRA as an Alternative to ANOVA

Some Other Correlational Techniques

Logistic Regression Analysis

Multiway Frequency Analysis

Data Types and Data Analysis

Chapter Summary

Suggestions for Further Reading

Key Terms


Chapter 12: Factor Analysis, Path Analysis, and Structural Equation Modeling

Exploratory Factor Analysis

Uses of Exploratory Factor Analysis

Considerations in Exploratory Factor Analysis

Confirmatory Factor Analysis

Hypothesis Testing

Measure Validation

Evaluating Goodness of Fit

Testing Mediational Hypotheses

The Causal Steps Strategy

Path Analysis with Observed Variables

Structural Equation Modeling

Prospective Research

Limits on Interpretation

Chapter Summary

Suggestions for Further Reading

Key Terms


Chapter 13: The Single-Case Research Strategy

The Role of Single-Case Research in Psychology

Some History

Uses of Single-Case Research

Validity Criteria in Single-Case Research

Measurement Criteria

Replication Criteria

Control Criteria

Impact Criteria

Treatment Criteria

Case Study Research

Choosing Cases to Study

Data Collection

Single-Case Experiments

Designs for Single-Case Experiments

The Importance of a Stable Baseline

Data Analysis in Single-Case Research

Qualitative Data

Quantitative Data

Chapter Summary

Suggestions for Further Reading

Key Terms


Chapter 14: Qualitative Research and Interviewing

Rachel Kraus, Ball State University

The Purpose and Goals of Qualitative Research

The Nature of Qualitative Research

Key Characteristics of Qualitative Research

Qualitative Research Questions

How to Choose a Qualitative Research Question

Qualitative Research as "Work"

How is Qualitative Research Evaluated?

Reliability in Qualitative Research

Validation Strategies


Designing Qualitative Research

Grounded Theory



Non-probability Samples in Qualitative Research

Sample Size and Theoretical Saturation

Data Collection

Qualitative Interviews

After the Interview


Data Analysis


Interpreting the Data

The Use of Software Programs in Qualitative Research

Writing About Qualitative Research

Reflexivity and Representation



Using Participants’ Quotes

Writing Strategies Across Qualitative Approaches

Chapter Summary

Suggestions for Further Reading

Key Terms


Chapter 15: Survey Research

Asking Questions

Open- and Closed-Ended Questions

Question Wording

Obtaining Answers

Levels of Measurement

Response Formats

Choosing a Response Format

Multi-Item Scales

Advantages of Multi-Item Scales

Types of Multi-Item Scales

Response Biases

Question-Related Biases

Person-Related Biases

Cultural Response Sets

Interpreting Responses

Questionnaire Design

Question Order

Constructing Questionnaire


Using Existing Measures

Questionnaire Administration

Group Administration

Online Surveys

Telephone Interviews

In-Person Interviews

Comparing the Methods

Chapter Summary

Suggestions for Further Reading

Key Terms


Part 4: Collecting and Interpreting Data

Chapter 16: Evaluation Research

Goal Definition

Needs Assessment

Evaluability Assessment

Program Monitoring

The Target Population

Program Implementation

Unintended Effects

Program Monitoring and Program Development

Impact Assessment

Criteria for Evaluating Impact

Answering the Research Questions

Research Designs

Interpreting Null Results

Sources of null results

When "null" results are not null

Efficiency Analysis

Cost-Benefit Analysis

Cost-Effectiveness Analysis

Information Utilization

Criteria for Research Utilization

The Political Context

Measuring Change

Difference Scores

The Reliable Change Index

Chapter Summary

Suggestions for Further Reading

Key Terms


Chapter 17: Data Collection

Research Participants

Populations and Samples


Sample Size

Research Procedures

Effective Research Settings

Effective Instructions

"Debugging" the Procedure

The Data Collection Session

The Post-Experimental Interview

Research Assistants

Using the Internet to Collect Data

The Validity of Web-Based Data

Advantages of Internet Research

Limitations of Internet Research

Participant Recruitment

Ethical Issues

Archival Data

Types of Archives

Advantages of Archival Data

Limitations of Archival Data

Chapter Summary

Suggestions for Further Reading

Key Terms


Chapter 18: Interpreting Research Results

Describing the Results of the Research

The Nature of the Relationship

Real Versus Chance Relationships

Effect Size and Importance

Inference in Behavioral Science Research

Knowledge as a Social Construction

Bias in Interpreting Data

Making Valid Inferences

Null Results

Uses of the Null Hypothesis

Prejudice Against the Null Hypothesis

Accepting the Null Hypothesis

Integrating the Results of Research

Identifying Implications for Theory

Identifying Implications for Research

Identifying Implications for Application

Chapter Summary

Suggestions for Further Reading

Key Terms


Chapter 19: Literature Reviewing

Purposes of Literature Reviews

Conceptual Literature Reviews

Integrative Literature Reviews

Defining the Research Question

The Scope of the Question

Approaches to Answering the Question

Finding Relevant Research

Deciding Which Studies to Use

Include All Studies

Include Only Published Studies

Include Only Valid Studies

Stratified Sampling

Expert Judgment

Integrating the Results of Primary Research

Levels of Analysis

Operationally Defining Study Outcome

Narrative Literature Reviews



Best Evidence Literature Reviewing

Interpreting the Results

The Effects of Judgment Calls

The Correlational Nature of Moderator Variable Analyses

Meaning versus Numbers in Meta-Analysis

Evaluating Literature Reviews

Understanding Meta-Analysis

Defining the Research Question

Locating Relevant Research

Deciding Which Studies to Include

Integrating the Results of the Studies

Interpreting the Results of the Meta-Analysis

Chapter Summary

Suggestions for Further Reading

Key Terms



About the Author

Mary E. Kite is Professor of Social Psychology at Ball State University, USA. She received her Ph.D. from Purdue University. Her research focuses on stereotyping and prejudice toward women, gays and lesbians, and older adults. She has served as President of The Society for the Teaching of Psychology (STP, APA Division 2) and Secretary-Treasurer and President of the Midwestern Psychological Association (MPA). She is a Fellow of APA Divisions 2, 8, 9, 35, and 44 and of the Association for Psychological Science and MPA. In 2014, she received the Charles L. Brewer Distinguished Teaching Award from the American Psychological Foundation. She co-authored the third edition of The Psychology of Prejudice and Discrimination with Bernard E. Whitley, Jr.

Bernard E. Whitley, Jr. is Professor Emeritus of Psychological Science at Ball State University, USA. He received his Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and charter member and Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science. His research interests focus on the roles of ideological variables in prejudice, and he has published in many journals including Psychological Bulletin, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. His other books include The Psychology of Prejudice and Discrimination with Mary E. Kite and Academic Dishonesty: An Educator’s Guide (2002) with Patricia Keith-Spiegel.

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