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In the same way, DP was created by Ossorio as a set of systematically related distinctions designed to enable one to describe any fact e. Jack's behavior yesterday or possible fact e. They provide a means for describing, distinguishing and categorizing any fact or possible fact concerning persons and their behavior.

Finally, DP is not a theory to be tested, but, like English grammar or arithmetic, a system to be used—here, in the conduct of psychological science and application. DP comprises a vast network of concepts, and it will not be possible here to convey more than the general sense or "flavor" of the total enterprise. This will be attempted by presenting the basics of its treatment of two core concepts, those of "behavior" and of "person", arguably the two most important concepts in DP.

Following this, many applications of DP's total conceptual network will be presented. In the mainstream view, the typical understanding of the term " behavior " is that it is "any observable overt movement of the organism generally taken to include verbal behavior as well as physical movements". Such movement may then be explained, depending on the theorist, as caused by environmental contingencies, "inner" entities such as thoughts or motives, or biological states of affairs.

However caused, the behavior itself is the "observable overt movement of the organism. From the DP point of view, this conception of behavior is inadequate for a number of reasons.

First, on the mainstream view, the only correct description of a behavior is one such as: In restricting itself to observable physical movements or sounds , psychology cannot technically generate even simple behavior descriptions such as: In raising his hand, he's Second, the mainstream conception, strictly interpreted, would include involuntary bodily movements such as patellar reflex reactions as behavior. Third, it would leave out any sort of mental behavior such as solving an anagram "in one's head", especially when this was not initiated by any clear and present " stimulus " and did not issue in any observable outcome.

In the face of these perceived inadequacies, DP attempts to provide a more adequate formulation of the nature of behavior. First of all, it notes that all behavior represents "an attempt on the part of a person to effect a change from one state of affairs to another". In all of these simple behaviors, whether they involve overt physical movements or not, she is attempting to bring about a change from one state of affairs to another—to change her unkempt hair to a more presentable state, to shift from being unclear to being clear about how many bottles of wine she must purchase, and so forth.

This characterization of behavior excludes phenomena such as patellar reflex movements, and includes acts such as mentally working on an anagram. Going beyond this general characterization, DP maintains that human behavior is an empirical phenomenon that is amenable, not to definition, but to parametric analysis. In DP, any behavior is a complex state of affairs that has as constituents component states of affairs. In DP, whenever a behavior e. Lest there be any doubt about the necessity of any of these parameters, consider what happens if we try to dispense with any of them: This includes all of the physical processes entailed in John making the phone call, which could in principle be described at any level of analysis appropriate to the describer's needs, from molar vocal and manual grasping events, finer muscular events, molecular brain and other central nervous system events, etc.

Parameters, in science or in everyday life, are a means by which we specify the ways in which one instance of a concept e. If all of the values for two behaviors are identical, the behaviors are identical compare: If one or more values are different, the behaviors are different. For example, suppose that Terry and Pat engage in the same overt performance of uttering the words "I love you" to each other.

However, the value of the W Want parameter for Terry is "to get Pat's money", while the value of the W parameter for Pat is "to express love for Terry". This parametric difference renders Terry's behavior a different behavior than Pat's. Colloquially, we characterize this difference by saying that Terry is "gold-digging", while Pat is "expressing love". In principle, one could give an exhaustive description of any behavior by specifying all of the values of all of the above parameters.

In practice, however, on any given occasion, whether scientific, therapeutic, or everyday interactional, persons make descriptive commitments to those parameters which serve their purposes in the giving of the specific description. They commit at least to the W parameter when they want to describe what Terry is doing as gold-digging. They commit to the PC Personal Characteristic, subtype Trait parameter when they want to characterize Senator Smith's vote on a child care bill as an expression of political ambition, not humanitarianism.

Thus, the DP formulation of behavior contrasts sharply with mainstream psychology's notion of behavior as observable physical movement.

Unlike the latter, it provides entree to the descriptions of behavior that are virtually always at issue in human discourse; for example, questions regarding the nature of a person's behavior are virtually never requests for another to describe the already known visible movements that that person is making. It covers mental acts such as planning, calculating, or problem solving "in one's head", and excludes involuntary movements such as the patellar and eyeblink reflex actions.

The DP conception does not require, like the mainstream view, the creation of some sort of human mechanics designed to causally reattach such things as motives, thoughts, or personality traits to the observable physical movements of persons. Finally, going well beyond what space permits here into matters that one can perhaps only glimpse from the foregoing discussion: The mainstream tendency in psychology has been to define " person " as the name of a certain kind of organism.

A person is taken to be a highly evolved specimen of the species Homo sapiens , a species that via evolution has acquired certain physical features, most importantly a large, complex brain that renders this species capable of consciousness and higher mental accomplishments such as using language and solving complex logical problems. The DP formulation of persons differs fundamentally from this.

It begins by honoring the traditional intellectual custom of not defining things—things like chairs, automobiles, dollars, radios, chess pawns, and computers—in terms of what they are made of or of how this "stuff" is organized. They are defined instead in terms of what they do— the roles they play, the ways they function in the human scheme of things. A pawn, whether it be ivory, wood, or onyx, is something that functions a certain way in the game of chess. A computer, whether composed of ancient vacuum tubes or modern semiconductors, is a device for carrying out various operations involving the processing of information.

A chair, whether wooden rocker or leather beanbag, is a piece of furniture designed to seat a single person. Employing this functionalist approach, Ossorio defined a "person" as " In the vernacular, such behavior is characterized as "knowing what you're doing and doing it on purpose.

Defending this conception further against the view that "person" designates a certain kind of organism, DP argues that at one time the only kind of airplane was a wooden, propeller-driven one, and the only kind of computer was a vacuum tube model. At the present historical juncture, the only completely unarguable example of a person is homo sapiens type human beings. However, many scientists have long believed that there is a strong possibility that there are persons who are aliens, and extensive efforts have been made to establish communication with such persons.

Further, another longstanding endeavor exists to create computers and robots with all of the features of humans. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that at some point ones are created that are capable of entertaining behavioral options and selecting from among them—i.

Third and finally, ongoing programs of research explore the linguistic, communicational, and behavioral capabilities of gorillas, chimpanzees, dolphins, and other infrahuman species. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that such creatures become regarded as persons. Even if none of these possibilities came to fruition, the conceptual point has already been made. Our concept of "person" is not confined to organisms with homo sapiens embodiment, but extends beyond it to any creature that exhibits a certain kind of functioning.

If a conceptual system for a science of psychology is to provide descriptive access to all facts and possible facts about persons and their behavior, it must do more than capture the concept of Person in general.

It must also provide descriptive resources for describing individual persons. Psychologists, historians, biographers, and people leading their everyday social lives must distinguish persons, not merely on the basis of identity "that's John Smith" , but on basis of what kind of persons they are.

DP provides the conceptual resources for doing so with the following parametric analysis, one again that captures what persons actually do in undertaking this essential life task:.

These include traits dispositions to engage in a certain kind of behavior such as hostile or generous behavior ; attitudes dispositions to regard and treat different objects e. These include the person's abilities the person's capabilities with reference to some kind of achievement such as shooting a basketball, playing chess, or learning languages ; knowledge the set of facts the person has the ability to act on, such as the rules of chess or the requirements for making a good omelet ; and values the set of motivational priorities that the person is routinely able to act on, such as a value for honesty or for an adventurous way of life.

These include states states of affairs in which there is a systematic difference in the ordinary powers or dispositions of a person, such as being sick or exhausted or drunk ; capacities the potential to acquire personal characteristics, such as a capacity to acquire mathematical skills or to learn languages; and embodiment the physical characteristics of a person, such as being six feet tall, weighing pounds, or having brown eyes.

In essence, individuals characterize what kind of person John Smith is by giving values to these parameters. When they describe John as "honest," they commit to one value of the trait parameter; when "flamboyant" to the style parameter; when "obsessed with making money" to the values parameter; when "very good with numbers" to the ability parameter of course, all of these parameters will have multiple values—honesty will not be John's only trait.

And they are saying in essence: The concepts of Behavior and Person are the two most basic concepts in the vast network of concepts that is DP. Given limitations of space, others will not be pursued here. The method of presentation will be to provide brief excerpts from published works covering different topics to which DP has been applied.

Regrettably, many of the linkages between these works and the concepts just discussed cannot be drawn here. While DP's conceptual analyses have in the past often struck readers as difficult, abstract, and even arcane, its ultimate products and applications have typically emerged as possessing a clear, concrete, common sensical character. And, as active agents of change, our interest is in helping our clients to occupy such positions of power.

We would like to position them to fight downhill battles and not uphill ones, to be 'in the driver's seat' and not the passenger one. This lesson explores the different ways that a researcher can understand individuals or groups of people, both in terms of psychological research as well as general research in other fields.

Definitions Sometimes an individual wants to know something about a group of people. There are three ways a researcher can go about doing a descriptive research project, and they are: Observational , defined as a method of viewing and recording the participants Case study , defined as an in-depth study of an individual or group of individuals Survey , defined as a brief interview or discussion with an individual about a specific topic Let's look at specific ways we can use each of these.

Observational If I say, 'chimpanzees,' what do you think? Survey A survey comes in different flavors, be it interviewing people face to face or handing out questionnaires to fill out. Try it risk-free No obligation, cancel anytime. Want to learn more? Select a subject to preview related courses: Case Study Case studies are a little more in-depth than an observation and typically a little more holistic. Lesson Summary Descriptive research is a study designed to depict the participants in an accurate way.

The three main ways to collect this information are: Observational , defined as a method of viewing and recording the participants Case study , defined as an in-depth study of an individual or group of individuals Survey , defined as a brief interview or discussion with the individuals about a specific topic Learning Outcomes After watching this video lesson, you might be able to: Realize the purpose of descriptive research Mention three ways to do descriptive research Emphasize two types of observational research Note the contrasts between case studies and observations Highlight ways of performing survey research.

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Help and Review Technical Writing: Popular Lessons The Omaha Platform of Create an account to start this course today. Like this lesson Share. Browse Browse by subject. Upgrade to Premium to enroll in Psychology Research Methods in Psychology. Enrolling in a course lets you earn progress by passing quizzes and exams. Take quizzes and exams. Earn certificates of completion. You will also be able to: Create a Goal Create custom courses Get your questions answered.

Upgrade to Premium to add all these features to your account! Email us if you want to cancel for any reason. Start your FREE trial. What best describes you? Choose one Student Teacher Parent Tutor. What's your main goal? Your goal is required. Email Email is required. Email is not a valid email. Knowing which method to use may seem tough, but first asking yourself what is the question that needs to be answered? Maybe you want to know if a relationship exists between two things, like how much time a person spends studying for a test and their subsequent grade on that test, so you design a correlational study.

Or, perhaps you want to know how manipulating or changing the amount of time one group of people study affects their test score, so you design an experimental study. Or possibly you are not interested in how things are related, or how manipulating one thing affects another - you simply want to observe and describe something in an effort to understand it better.

This is the essence of descriptive research in the field of psychology, and is the focus of this lesson. As the name implies, descriptive research methods are used when the researcher wants to describe specific behavior as it occurs in the environment. There are a variety of descriptive research methods available, and once again, the nature of the question that needs to be answered drives which method is used.

Traditionally, descriptive research involves three main categories: Let's take a closer look at each of these individually. Observational research involves, well, observing. Say for instance you were interested in learning more about how toddlers from different cultures engage in play activities. You would not want to impact their natural inclinations to behave and engage in play activity, so you would watch from afar or perhaps through a two-way mirror, simply observing and noting what you are seeing.

After you complete all of your observations, you can then make inferences about the differences and similarities that were noted. Nothing has been manipulated and hopefully they didn't even know you were there. Another type of descriptive research method is called a case study. A case study involves making detailed observations about one specific case. For instance, a medical student who is interested in learning more about a particularly unique patient might study the behaviors and thought processes of that one individual.

This could consist of observations or interviews, but like observational research, there is no influence from the researcher. The intent is simply to examine closely the qualities and characteristics of this one case.

Get access risk-free for 30 days, just create an account. Last but not least is survey research. Surveys are quite common in everyday life and while you have no doubt participated in some sort of survey in your lifetime, you probably did not think about the survey being used for research purposes.

Marketing companies use survey research regularly in order to gauge the interests, preferences, and motivation of a target group of people.

It is relatively easy for a soda company to track their target demographic group's behavior by simply focusing on product sales. What their behavior doesn't tell us is why someone chose to purchase, or not purchase, a particular product. This is where surveys are so valuable. By asking a series of specific self-reported questions, surveys allow for an anonymous peek inside the thought processes of large numbers of people simultaneously, allowing for an opportunity to describe what is not outwardly observable.

Descriptive research can be used to increase understanding and knowledge about the behavior and thought processes of people. There are three main types of descriptive research commonly used in the field of psychology. Observational research involves observing and noting the behavior of individuals or groups of individuals without influencing their behavior. Case studies are used when a detailed account of a specific target individual or group is desired.

Survey research allows for anonymous access into the thought processes and behaviors of a target group of people by asking them to report this information themselves. To unlock this lesson you must be a Study. Login here for access. Did you know… We have over college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1, colleges and universities.

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Try it risk-free for 30 days. A Ray Tatum A. Add to Add to Add to. Want to watch this again later? In this lesson you will learn to define descriptive research as well as to identify the three main types of descriptive research used in the field of psychology.

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Descriptive research methods are pretty much as they sound -- they describe situations. They do not make accurate predictions, and they do not determine cause and effect. There are three main types of descriptive methods: observational methods, case-study methods and survey methods.

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Psychology Definition of DESCRIPTIVE RESEARCH: An empirical investigation to test a hypothesis or to look at conditions, relationships.

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Descriptive research can be used to increase understanding and knowledge about the behavior and thought processes of people. There are three main types of descriptive research commonly used in the field of psychology. Descriptive, or qualitative, methods include the case study, naturalistic observation, surveys, archival research, longitudinal research, and cross-sectional research. Experiments are conducted in order to determine cause-and-effect relationships.

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Descriptive research design is a valid method for researching specific subjects and as a precursor to more quantitative studies. Whilst there are some valid concerns about the statistical validity, as long as the limitations are understood by the researcher, this type of study is an invaluable scientific tool. In psychology, techniques used to describe behavior include case studies, surveys, naturalistic observation, interviews, and psychological tests. Case studies. A case study is a method of obtaining information from the detailed observation of an .