Planning Research

Why Do Psychologists Conduct Research ?

There are 2 overall aims of conducting research.

1. To gather purely descriptive data - Descriptive Research

2. To test Hypotheses - Hypothesis Testing

Descriptive Research

This type of research may establish the age at which children are able to 'babble', or it may find out using a survey the current attitudes to the use of fertilizers in the garden. The data collected may be analysed and used to generate hypotheses, models, theories or further research directions and ideas.

Hypothesis Testing

A large amount of research sets out to test one Research Hypothesis by showing that differences or relationships exist.

Hypothesis - What is it ?

Hypotheses are hunches that a researcher has about the existence of a relationship between variables. Testing hypotheses is to do with accepting or rejecting explanations of those relationships within known degrees of certainty.

A good example to see how a Hypothesis can be constructed is by having a look at the 'Great Shampoo Conspiracy'

Hand Out

Hypothesis - What is it ?

The Great Shampoo Conspiracy

2 Females Sharing a Flat

Tess ran out of shampoo and decided to borrow some from her flatmate Fiona.

The shampoo that Tess borrowed was a posh shampoo that was meant to be used with a conditioner. After washing her hair Tess noticed that her hair was a lot more tangled than it was normally when she used her own normal shampoo brand.

Why Was This ?

Could it be that the Shampoo was not for Tess's Hair Type?

Could it be that Tess hadn't washed her hair as thoroughly as she normally did?

Could it be that Tess was more observant of the effects of this shampoo because it was new ?

Could it be that the manufacturer had deliberately put a chemical in the shampoo to tangle peoples hair so that they had to buy the conditioner as well ?

Tess decided on the last statement that the manufacturer had deliberately put a chemical in the shampoo to tangle peoples hair so that they had to buy the conditioner as well .

All she had to do now was prove it !

The next day She went on a shopping spree for shampoo's(these ranged from upmarket shampoos to cheapo shampoos)

Each day Tess washed her hair for 2 minutes in a different shampoo and dried it the same way. For each shampoo Tess kept a record of how many times she had to run her comb through it to make it tangle free. The results suggested that Tess was right in suspecting a conspiracy, she found that on the whole the more expensive the shampoo, the more times she had to comb her hair to make it tangle free.

In Psychology an idea that is to be tested is called a hypothesis. What was the Hypothesis that Tess Tested ?


The Hypotheses that Tess Tested :1)he more expensive the shampoo the more it would tangle my hair;2) the more expensive the shampoo is the more likely it is to contain a tangling agent;3) there is a relationship between the cost of the shampoo and the number of times the hair needs to be combed to be tangle free


Hypotheses need to be worded in a particular way. A good wording for the Hypotheses that Tess Tested would be