Longitudinal and Snapshot

Studies within psychology adopt either a longitudinal or snapshot design, each having their own methodological strengths and weaknesses.

—A longitudinal study is where one participant or one group of individuals is studied over a long period of time, taking regular samples of behaviour.

—A snapshot study is where participants of different ages or from different groups are studied simultaneously, often only once, and their behaviour compared using one set of data.

Quantitative and Qualitative

There are two types of data that psychologists use.

Quantitative data consists of numerical and statistical information that is normally easy to analyse and make comparisons and quick to collect.

Qualitative data consists of descriptive information which focuses on meaning and experience, therefore providing rich, insightful data.


Psychologists must follow guidelines set out by the British Psychological Society and submit ‘preliminary’ plans of research to the society to be ‘okayed’ before research can be carried out.

Research must satisfy the six main principles. This is because the purpose of research is to contribute to the ‘good’.

Carrying out unethical research could ‘damage the field’, leading to people being unwilling to take part in research and lack of funding.

  1. Consent; Have the subjects of the study made an informed consent to take part?
  2. Deception; Have the subjects been deceived?
  3. Debriefing; Have the subjects been effectively debriefed?
  4. Withdrawal from the investigation; Are the subjects clear that they can withdraw from the study at any time without penalty or scorn?
  5. Confidentiality; Participants in psychological research have the right to expect that information they provide will be treated confidentially.
  6. Protection of participants; Investigators must protect participants from physical and mental harm during the investigation.

Ecological Validity

Research is ecologically valid if you can confidently generalise the findings from a study to a real life setting. Some methods are much more ecologically valid than others. Studies which are low in ecological validity tend to be conducted in artifical settings with high levels of control.

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