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Scientific Research Types

Scientific Research Types

Author: Erick Taggart

This lesson will explain the basic research method, the animal method, and applied research.

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Source: Rats; Public Domain

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Hello class. So in today's lesson, we're going to be talking about the different types of research. So we've gone over a few of the different methods that we might use. Now this goes into a bit more about why we're doing research or how it's intending to be used. So there are two major types we'll talk about today. And that's basic research versus applied research.

Now basic research to begin with is study and research that's meant to increase our knowledge of psychological phenomena and about the world around us in general. So this also applies to general scientific research. So basic research is more theoretical and it's driven by curiosity and a want to understand about the things around us. And this is what the majority of psychological research is. It's basic research. So for example, trying to understand how memory works or what the effects of culture is on individual psychology. Those are things that would fall under basic research.

Basic research generally takes place in universities, but also in research institutions that are specific to psychological research. And generally basic research is funded by the government, because it doesn't have any commercial value in and of itself. That isn't to say that it isn't valuable, just the fact that there isn't anything that you could apply it to, to make money right off the bat.

And basic research lays the foundations for applied research. And it has useful applications based off of it. For example, knowing how memory works might help us to develop techniques that help people that are losing their memories or that are getting older. So you can see how that can lead to applied research.

Applied research on the other hand is practical research that's based on real world sorts of problems-- explicit problems-- that people are having. And this builds on previous theories-- things like basic research. Which isn't to say, by the way, that basic research and applied research are competitive. They aren't, one is better than the other. Rather they contribute to each other and build off of each other.

Applied research is more commercially driven. In other words, there's some kind of funding behind it that's important to either organizations-- like Autism Speaks is an example of an organization dedicated to a psychological cause-- or specific companies. Maybe businesses have psychological experts that assist them with applied research devoted to their company.

So applied research generally has more specific areas of research. For example, there's industrial organizational psychology that studies and assesses people within organizations. So they might have problems like how to best train somebody or how to evaluate employees. They're not talking about big general psychological concepts. There can also be applied research in fields like education, in forensics, or even in sports. A lot of different areas of business and of the world in general have psychological applied research that's devoted just to that.

This is also a good time to note that while psychology studies the human mind and behavior, sometimes the study of non-human subjects is also used. This is what we call the animal method of psychological research or scientific research. This uses animals whose behavior and processes within their minds are similar to or very different from those of humans. And those similarities and differences can help to explain human psychological phenomena. There's an area of psychology devoted specifically to this called comparative psychology. But there are other fields of psychology that make use of animal research as well.

So either under animal research, the behavior is more simply understood in the animals. For example, the development of language can be more easily understood in animals like chimpanzees, because their language is a little bit more simplistic, or because the animal processes and behaviors are unique and they can highlight something that's new or different within human development. For example, learning about the emotional processes of elephants is something that's not necessarily similar to humans, but help us understand emotions in humans better.

Now, animals can sometimes be used in processes that are too dangerous or unhealthy for people to undertake. For example, they might use electrodes within the brains, or they might test new drugs on animals. And this is definitely something questionable for different types of people, whether this is necessarily ethical. But it is important to note that there are ethical research guidelines, specifically those given by the American Psychological Association, or the APA, that prevent any kind of severe or unethical mistreatment of animals. So that is something that underlies animal research as well as human research.

Notes for "Scientific Research Types"

Terms to Know

  • Basic Research
  • Study and research meant to increase our knowledge of psychological phenomena and the world around us.
  • Applied Research
  • Practical, real-world research meant to address explicit problems people are having.
  • Animal Method
  • Research method that uses animals to compare or contrast with humans to try to understand psychological phenomena.