Why Psychologists Do Research

Abstract

Psychology is a branch of medicine which mainly deals with the investigations of the functions, depths and complexities of the mind so as to get an understanding on why humans and even animals behave in the manner they do. Psychology is undertaken with the purpose of helping people in therapy, or in an attempt to learn more about humans in general. Psychology being a wide field of study has been divided into several classes which mainly deal by focusing on a certain area of the human and animal behavior which gives a better understanding of behavior. These classes of Psychology include clinical psychology, industrial psychology, social psychology and developmental psychology among others (Lester, 2003). A psychologist is a person trained in psychology whose main work is to study how the human mind functions by observing things like cognition, behavior and affect. Psychologists range from psychotherapists to clinical psychologists.

Some of the things a psychologist can study including studying people to learn more about them or even animals in an attempt to understand the basic behavior mechanisms (Bourne & Russo, 1998). To do this, psychologists study patterns that will give them understanding and predict behavior and are required to do research in a systematic way which allows them to collect and understand data. Research is an extremely important part in psychology as it helps us to understand what makes people reason, sense and also act in certain ways. In addition, it allows us to group psychological disorders so as to comprehend the symptoms and impact on the individual and society. It also helps us to understand how relationships, development, schools, family, peers, and religion affect us as individuals and as a society and allows us to develop effective treatments to improve the quality of life of individuals and groups (Gray, 2010).

Introduction

Psychological research studies have continued to be an important part in scientific research as they have provided, to a great extent the explanation to the human and animal behavior mechanism. Psychologists study mental processes and human behavior through observation, interpreting and recording the relation between the people and their environment. This they do by finding patterns that gives them an understanding and enable them to predict behavior using scientific principles, methods and procedures to test their findings. They formulate theories and hypotheses which they use to explain their findings and observations which give one an understanding of the workings of the behavior mechanism (Feldman, 1999). As a result of research, psychologists have been able to learn a lot on behavior which has greatly helped to increase the understanding among people, groups, organizations, institutions and even culture.

This clearly indicates the importance of psychological research as we see that without research; little would be known about the many different diseases, disorders and the human and animal behaviors we observe today. Therefore, it is important that psychologists continue to conduct research so as to be able to maintain, nurture and enhance the general knowledge of the humans.

The main question that arises in this research is why psychologists conduct research in the different fields? As we observe, with the changes in our social environment and the onset of technology, it is seen that the human and animal behavior has been influenced significantly by these changes and it this has led to many questions being asked so as to try to explain the changes observed. As a result, psychologists have embarked to research so as to explain the changes that have been observed and these have resulted in them conducting experiments and test and coming up with theories and hypotheses used to explain the changes on the human and animal behavior observed.

To begin with, psychologists conduct research so as to be able to study how humans feel, think, learn and even act. People from different cultures and places have different ways of conducting themselves and even handle situations. With such diversity it is important for one to be able to understand why such behaviors are exhibited by the individuals and what the reasons that may propel such behaviors are for instance culture, environment or mental problems (Gross, 2010).

In his study on human attitude, Guerin observed that most people developed their attitudes towards objects mainly by picking it up by observation of the surrounding people especially when they had have no personal experience with the object. For instance, he observed that children whose parents remarked that “blind people are incompetent” adopted such an attitude towards blind people even though they had not come in contact with them (Feldman, 1999). This clearly shows that one’s surrounding can influence their behavior. With such research findings, psychologists are able to explain different attitude behaviors thus showing why research is conducted.

In addition, psychologists conduct research so as to study the different psychological disorders such as mental disorder, anxiety disorder, personality disorder and dissociative disorder. With research, they are able to explain the causes of such disorders and find methods and ways to treat such disorders (Feldman, 1999). For instance, phobia, an intense irrational fear of specific objects is a kind of anxiety disorder which was found to occur due to exposure to a stimuli or an event that triggered the fear. For example claustrophobia a fear of enclosed spaces was observed to be triggered when a person with that phobia was left alone in an enclosed space. Knowing the causes of different phobias has enabled psychologists to come with ways of treating such phobias and many have been helped. Such advancement in finding the causes and treating disorders shows how research is important in psychology.

The different fields of psychology such as clinical, criminal and industrial psychology all help in understanding what influence the human behavior. Research has enabled inter-relating these fields which have proved to be effective as they have created a better understanding on how behavior is influenced. For instance, relating clinical psychology and criminal psychology can go a long way in explaining why a person committed an offence. It can be as a result of a mental disorder which is explained by clinical psychology and therefore appropriate action can be taken on the offender (Gleitman, 1992). Due to research, it has been possible to inter-relate the different psychological fields which have provided more information on human behavior.

Through research, psychologists have developed tests and procedures which they have used to further their understanding in their studies and also to obtain more information as the tests have been phenomenon in giving more information even than what was required which has led to more discoveries. These tests have been used to assess ability, personality and behavior. For example, the Rorschach test has been used to examine a person’s personality characteristics and their emotional functioning (Gross, 2005).

Most findings of psychological research were discovered in a different era and some of the findings made were not satisfactory whereas others were incorrect and therefore cannot be used to explain the different behaviors observed in own present time due to social changes. With such occurrence, it calls for psychologists to conduct research so as to give more explanation and new findings which they can use to improve on already developed theories and even to disprove findings made by others (Sandra, 2008). This will go a long way in explaining behaviors that could not be explained previously due to lack of research. Therefore, research should be conducted by psychologists to improve on data.

In psychology, research is important in explaining a lot of phenomena observed. Therefore, psychologists carry out research so as to write their thesis and dissertations and through their research discoveries are made which broaden understanding in psychology. Furthermore, research is done so as to enhance, improve and make the process of learning psychology by those interested and pursuing a course in psychology more fun and easy to understand. Research has led to development in the areas of perception, psychological disorders and treatment, social psychology and cognition and language. Such improvements through research have made psychology fun and easy to read and understand (Lester & Brannon, 2003).

In brief, some methods used by psychologist in research include observation, assessment, interviews, questionnaires, surveys, clinical studies and experimentation. The methods used vary with the topic of study. The types of research mainly used include naturalistic observation, case studies, co-relational studies, psychological testing and survey. All these are aimed at understanding and gathering more information on behavior (Breakwell et al., 1995).

Researchers should observe the research ethics. Some of the ethical issues raised include if it is deemed correct to use animals for research experimental procedures. Also, it is required of the administrators of the experiments to inform the test subjects of the consequences of the procedures as they have a primary responsibility to protect the participants from any harm either physical or mental. The research should not be biased (Gross, 2005). It is therefore important that a researcher observes the code of ethics while conducting a research.

Summary

Research is an important part of psychology and it is required that psychologists conduct research so as to understand and explain the different behavior mechanism. Research by psychologists is conducted so as to be able to study how humans feel, think, learn and even act. It is also done so as to explain the different psychological disorders observed and find ways in which such disorders can be treated. Furthermore, research enables psychologist improved on already conducted studies, come up with new tests and procedures which they can use to do research with. Also, it makes psychology easy to learn and understand therefore making the discipline enjoyable. In this paper, we also look at the methods used by psychologists for research such as observation, questionnaires and surveys and the types of research. Finally, the paper looks briefly into the ethical issues that need to be adhered to by psychologist while researching.

Conclusion

Psychologists must continue to conduct their research as research will go a long way in maintaining, nurturing and augmenting the understanding of the behavioral mechanism of the human population at large. Many studies conducted have proved to be extremely valuable in learning about human behavior and development. Therefore, psychologists should focus to put more emphasis on research because it is the best mode to find information especially in psychology.