Research Methods-The Scientific Skeptic
The three methods that people can use to settle on a psychological belief are tenacity, authority, and priori. However, a claim should be subjected to scientific analysis using the qualitative and quantitative methods to ascertain if the evidence can be used to corroborate or refute the claim. The purpose of the paper is to test the claim that smiling increases an individual’s level of happiness among the depressed individuals by reframing the claim into a question and explaining how a scientific method can be used to test the research question. Besides, the essay compares the scientific test with the method of tenacity.
The research question from the claim would be, “Does smiling increase the level of happiness among depressed individuals?” Considering that the data collected would be abstract, the best scientific method to use in testing such a claim would be qualitative owing to the fact that the question is both provocative and interpretive. The scientific method would, therefore, follow four processes as explained by Elmes, Kantowitz, & Roediger (2011). First, there would be a data collection based on the study design of grounded theory. The data collection methods that would best suit the study would be observation; where the researcher observes if the depressed patient’s level of happiness increases every time they smile, interviews; where the researcher conducts structured and unstructured interviews with the psychology experts like Registered Nurses and Psychiatrists and focus group discussions; where the researcher gathers opinions from individuals in an official setting.
The other method can be action research where the researcher attempts to smile when he or she feels the emotions of anger and sadness to try relating the concept of smile and level of happiness. The second process in scientific research would be data analysis. It is imperative to mention that qualitative studies classify responses into opinions, feelings, experiences, knowledge, and input. The qualitative data analysis on the research question should be based on interpretive philosophy, and the researcher should focus his or her energy on examining the symbolic content of the collected information.
According to Smith (2015), there are two methods of analyzing qualitative data. First, a researcher can use the deductive approach where the research question is used to group the data, and then he or she looks for similarities and differences. For example, the researcher can analyze the similarities in evidence given by professionals who believe that smiling has no scientific association with the level of happiness. For example, dopamine hormone is responsible for evoking a response of happiness and sadness from the brain and therefore, if the researcher notices that most respondents highlight the importance of dopamine receptors in the depressed individual’s level of happiness, then the process of analyzing the data is said to be deductive. Scientifically, the use of substances like alcohol can intercept the dopamine receptors and make it impossible for the brain to respond naturally to human actions like smiling. In analyzing the data, it would be imperative of the researcher to consider the mental state of different people under depression to avoid blanket conductions. Secondly, the researcher can use an inductive approach where he or she uses an emergent framework to group the data and assess the relationship. However, for the research question of “Does smile increase the level of happiness among depressed individuals,” deductive approach would be the best in analyzing the qualitative data.
The next step is the interpretation and presentation of the analyzed data. Using the deductive approach, the researcher would focus on the scientific theory related with the study question like the cognitive theory which explains how the brain works with regards to human action like smiling, the hypothesis like the notion that smiling increases the level of happiness, the observations of data collected and the patterns in the responses from the respondents, like a 80% “No” response. The interpretation of the data should be based on the content of the responses, the narratives or transcribed experiences, discourse, and framework such as textual coding. The researcher can then get into the final step of making a scientific conclusion based on the findings in the qualitative study (Coolican, 2017). For example, if the researcher finds that 80% of the respondents or the sample size indicate that there is no correlation between smiling and level of happiness, the conclusion would be that the claim that “smile increases the level of happiness:” is false and therefore the hypothesis would be rejected. There is a room for the researcher to explain the reasons for the rejection of the hypothesis, such as the concept of dopamine deficiency and the role of the brain in happiness.
Jackson (2014) posits that the psychological method of tenacity, on the other hand, states that a claim is held to be true because one tenaciously believes it to be true. For example, a depressed individual who often smiles to find happiness would believe that the hypothesis is true regardless of the explanation. The method of tenacity does not take into consideration any evidence and uses the individual’s reasons for settling for the psychological belief.
There are many psychological beliefs and claims which are settled using tenacity, priori, and authority methods. However, using quantitative and qualitative scientific methods of testing and settling claims should be prioritized because science increases validity and reliability of information used as the premise upon which a claim is adopted to be either true or false.
Coolican, H. (2017). Research methods and statistics in psychology. Psychology Press.
Elmes, D. G., Kantowitz, B. H., & Roediger III, H. L. (2011). Research methods in psychology. Cengage Learning.
Jackson, S. L. (2014). Research methods: A modular approach. Cengage Learning.
Smith, J. A. (Ed.). (2015). Qualitative psychology: A practical guide to research methods. Sage.