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Here are some exam style questions.


Here is a tick off what you need to know sheet for self-reports.


Try this self report true or false quiz


Survey is a term used to describe a technique of collecting information, attitudes or opinions from a large number of people. Many surveys involve the use of questionnaires which are usually structured questions which are presented in a written form. Some surveys use interviews which are a method of spoken data collection. Interviews can vary in the amount of structure they use. Structured interviews maybe little more than a spoken questionnaire whereas semi structured interviews allow for an open ended description of the respondents experiences.


Here is an old school comprension pdf where you have to print it out and use a pen.



Here is another uber cool multi-choice quiz.


Data is the term used to describe the scores collected and analysed. ?Data? is a plural word. The word for a single score is datum. Therefore it is not correct to say ?The Data is ?. However, the term ?data? is being used more and more as a singular so it probably doesn?t really matter that much if you use it as a singular word.









Psychometric tests are a type of questionnaire consisting of many closed questions .These tests are instruments developed for measuring mental characteristics. Psychometric tests have been designed to measure a wide range of mental characteristics, including personality, intelligence, mental health, brain damage and so on.





A Likert scale is type of closed question which is often used a way of measuring attitudes. Respondents are asked to state on a scale (usually it is 1 -5 or 1 -7) how strongly they agree with a statement. For example 1 could be strongly disagree and 5 could be strongly agree. Named after its inventor Rensis Likert.





A number of ethical issues can arise with self-report techniques.


For example, it is expected that researchers will obtain informed consent from all respondents unless some form of deception is necessary. If some deception is used it is important that researchers debrief the respondents. It is important that questions do not cause psychological harm such as embarrassment or by asking sensitive/personal questions and that the researchers respect the confidentiality of their participants, for example, by not recording the respondents named.



When using self report measures psychologists often use pilot studies.



A pilot study is a smaller version of a study carried out before the main research. Pilot studies are useful because they can test if the participants understand the instructions and questions.



The obligation effect is a problem often found with questionnaires and interviews. When participants are asked to answer questions they often feel obliged to respond even if they may not have any views on the topic being asked.




Generalisability refers to the extent to which results from one sample of participants can be applied to wider groups. The generalisability of the results of a study is partly dependent on the success of the sampling technique (e.g. was the sample representative of the population) and the representativeness of the population chosen (for example if the sample was taken from students then it is not reasonable to generalise the results to all types of people).





























Sometimes researchers choose every nth person on a list. For example, a researcher may choose every 20th person on a list of college students. This type of sampling is often mistaken for random sampling. When a researcher chooses every nth person from a list this is known as systematic sampling.




















Here is a true or false sampling quiz.




Try a match the sample quiz And here is another one.



Below is a great powerpoint created by Tom Humphreys. Click on the picture.


The powerpoint is quite a large file so may take a short time to download.

Home > Investigations > Self-report


Self-report for Psychological Investigations

A self report is any method which involves asking a participant about their feelings, attitudes, beliefs and so on. Examples of self reports are questionnaires and interviews but note that self reports are often used as a way of gaining participants responses in observational studies and experiments.


Questionnaires and interviews


Questionnaires are a type of self report method which consist of a set of questions usually in a highly structured written form.

Questionnaires can contain both open questions and closed questions and participants record their own answers.


Interviews are a type of spoken questionnaire where the interviewer records the responses. Interviews can be structured whereby there is a predetermined set of questions or unstructured whereby no questions are decided in advance.

The main strength of self-report methods are that they are allowing participants to describe their own experiences rather than inferring this from observing participants.

Questionnaires and interviews are often able to study large samples of people fairly easy and quickly. They are able to examine a large number of variables and can ask people to reveal behaviour and feelings which have been experienced in real situations.

However participants may not respond truthfully, either because they cannot remember or because they wish to present themselves in a socially acceptable manner. Social desirability bias can be a big problem with self report measures as participants often answer in a way to portray themselves in a good light.

Questions are not always clear and we do not know if the respondent has really understood the question we would not be collecting valid data.

If questionnaires are send out, say via email or through tutor groups, response rate can be very low.

Questions can often be leading. That is, they may be unwittingly forcing the respondent to give a particular reply.

Unstructured interviews can be very time consuming and difficult to carry out whereas structured interviews can restrict the respondents? replies.


Therefore psychologists often carry out semi-structured interviews which consist of some pre-determined questions and followed up with further questions which allow the respondent to develop their answers.



Open and closed questions.

Questionnaires and interviews can use open or closed questions ? or both.

Closed questions are questions which provide a limited choice ? for example a participant?s age or their favourite type of cheese. Such questions provide quantitative data which is easy to analyse. However these questions do not allow the participant to give such in-depth insights.

Open questions are those questions which invite the respondent to provide their own answers and provide qualitative data. Although these type of questions are more difficult to analyse they can produce more in-depth responses relating to what the participant actually thinks rather than being restricted by categories.


Rating Scales

One of the most common rating scales is the Likert scale. A statement is used and the participant decides how strongly they agree or disagree with the statements. For example the participant decides whether they strongly agree/ agree/ undecided/ disagree/ strongly disagree that Mozzarella cheese is great.

A strength of Likert type scales is that they can give us an idea about how strongly a participant feels about something. This therefore gives more detail than a simple yes no answer.

A further strength is that the data are quantitative data which are easy to analyse statistically.

However there is a tendency with Likert scales for people to respond towards the middle of the scale perhaps to make them look less extreme.

As with any questionnaire participants may provide the answers that they feel they should and importantly as the data is quantitative it does not provide in depth replies.


Fixed Choice questions

Fixed choice questions are phrased so that the respondent has to make a fixed choice answer usually ?yes? or ?no?.

This type of questionnaire is easy to measure and quantify. It also forces a participant to not choose a middle option.

However respondents may not feel that their desired response is available and of course the answers are not in-depth.


Reliability and Validity


Reliability refers to how consistent a measuring device is. A measurement is said to be reliable or consistent if the measurement can produce similar results if used again in similar circumstances. For example, if a speedometer gave the same readings at the same speed it would be reliable. If it didn't it would be pretty useless and unreliable.

Importantly reliability of self-report measures, such as psychometric tests and questionnaires can be assessed using the split half method. This involves splitting a test into two and having the same participant doing both halves of the test. If the two halves of the test provide similar results this would suggest that the test has internal reliability.

There are a number of ways to improve the reliability of self-report techniques. For example ambiguous questions could be clarified or in the case of interviews the interviewers could be given training.


This refers to whether a study measures or examines what it claims to measure or examine. Questionnaires are said to often lack validity for a number of reasons. Participants may lie; give answers that are desired and so on. It is argued that qualitative data is more valid than quantitative data.

A way of assessing the validity of self report measures is to compare the results of the self report with another self report on the same topic. (This is called concurrent validity). For example if an interview is used to investigate sixth form students attitudes to smoking the scores could be compared with a questionnaire of sixth formers attitudes to smoking.

There are a number of ways to improve the validity of self report techniques. For example leading questions could be avoided, open questions could be added to allow respondents to expand upon their replies and confidentiality could be reinforced to allow respondents to give more truthful responses.




One of the most important issues about any type of method is how representative of the population the results are.

The population is the group of people from whom the sample is drawn. For example if the sample of participants is taken from sixth form colleges in Hull, the findings of the study can only be applied to that group of people and not all sixth form students in the UK and certainly not all people in the world. Obviously it is not usually possible to test everyone in the target population so therefore psychologists use sampling techniques to choose people who are representative (typical) of the population as a whole.


Opportunity Sampling

Opportunity sampling is the sampling technique most used by psychology students. It consists of taking the sample from people who are available at the time the study is carried out and fit the criteria your are looking for. This may simply consist of choosing the first 20 students in your college canteen to fill in your questionnaire.

It is a popular sampling technique as it is easy in terms of time and therefore money. For example the researcher may use friends, family or colleagues. It can also be seen as adequate when investigating processes which are thought to work in similar ways for most individuals such as memory processes.

Sometimes, particularly with natural experiments opportunity sampling has to be used as the researcher has no control over who is studied. However, there are many weaknesses of opportunity sampling.

Opportunity sampling can produce a biased sample as it is easy for the researcher to choose people from their own social and cultural group. This sample would therefore not be representative of your target population as your friends may have different qualities to people in general.

A further problem with opportunity sampling is that participants may decline to take part and therefore the participants chosen may be an even more biased sample as those participants responding may be a particular type of person.


Self selected sampling

Self selected sampling (or volunteer sampling) consists of participants becoming part of a study because they volunteer when asked or in response to an advert. This sampling technique is used in a number of the core studies, for example Milgram (1963). This technique, like opportunity sampling, is useful as it is quick and relatively easy to do. It can also reach a wide variety of participants.

However, the type of participants who volunteer may not be representative of the target population for a number of reasons. For example, they be more obedient, more motivated to take part in studies and so on.


Random Sampling

This is a sampling technique which is defined as a sample in which every member of the population has an equal chance of being chosen. This involves identifying everyone in the target population and then selecting the number of participants you need in a way that gives everyone in the population an equal chance of being picked. For example, you could put all of the names of the students at your college in a hat and pick out however many you need. Random sampling is the best technique for providing an unbiased representative sample of a target population.

However random sampling does have limitations. Random sampling can be very time consuming and is often impossible to carry out, particularly when you have a large target population, of say all students. For example if you do not have the names of all the people in your target population you would struggle to conduct a random sample.

If you ask people to volunteer for a study the sample is already not random as some people may be more or less likely to volunteer for things. Similarly if you decided to put out an advert for participants it would be almost impossible to guarantee that every member of your target population has an equal chance of viewing the advert.


Stratified Sampling

Stratified sampling involves classifying the population into categories and then choosing a sample which consists of participants from each category in the same proportions as they are in the population. For example, if you wanted to carry out a stratified sample of students from a sixth form college you might decide that important variables are sex, 1st or 2nd years, age, have a part-time job and so on. You could then identify how many participants there are in each of these categories and choose the same proportion of participants in these categories for your study.

The strength of stratified sampling is therefore that your sample should be representative of the population. However, stratified sampling can be very time consuming as the categories have to be identified and calculated. As with random sampling, if you do not have details of all the people in your target population you would struggle to conduct a stratified sample.

If the sample is not randomly selected from the categories it is then called a quota sample.


Snowball Sampling

Snowball sampling can be used if your population is not easy to contact. For example if you were interested in studying students who take illegal drugs you may ask a participant who fits your target population to tell their friends about the study and ask them to get in touch with the researcher and so on.