Recently, the idea of research has been getting more and more interesting to me. I never thought that would happen when I first started taking psychology classes; in fact, research seemed pretty intimidating. However, after conducting my own literature review and small research project, I now see that research doesn't have to be so scary. In the next few paragraphs I am going to discuss the steps in my research project, which are hypothesis, literature review, data collection, and correlational design.
The first step was determining a hypothesis, which stated that impulsive behavior is lower for recovering addicts that have 2 or more years abstinent by participating in Narcotics Anonymous (or NA, a drug addiction 12-step self help group), versus recovering addicts that are new to NA (those with one year or less). This topic is a social psychology issue because addiction, a negative health behavior (
This literature review was very useful before I conducted my project because I was able to get ideas on a research design and data collection methods. I looked at a lot of primary sources, which are full research reports, as well as secondary sources, such as college textbooks (Bordens and Abbott, 2008), those that paraphrase and summarize information from research articles. Through this review, I was able to find an impulsivity scale that is widely used in psychology. It has high content validity, which means that the scale's questions measure the behavior accurately. The questionnaire I used is called the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11) (Patton et al., 2005). I also discovered some research data on topics similar to my hypothesis. For example, researchers had studied impulsivity scores on participants in Alcoholics Anonymous, a related self help group. Using this information, I began my data collection and design.
I chose to do the correlational design so that I could look at the relationship between impulsivity and length of time in NA. My data collection method involved administering the Barratt Scale to a small sample population of NA members. Ten members had one year or less abstinent and ten members had two or more years. After compiling the data and computing the statistical calculations, I found a correlation coefficient of r = + .36, but a small p-value (p > .1). A possible explanation for the p-value was that my sample population was too small (N = 20). Because of these findings, I had to conclude that my hypothesis was not correct. However, a future study that included a larger sample size may find a statistically significant p-value (p < .05).
This study was very useful to me because I was able to see from my literature review that much research has been done on 12-step recovery programs and they have been found to be at least as effective as many applied psychology interventions. The self-help groups such as AA and NA were formed by addicts, not necessarily psychologists, although they utilize cognitive behavioral therapy methods such as modeling and self-monitoring. Because of this research project and the higher level psychology courses I've taken recently, research is becoming less intimidating!
Bordens, K. S., Abbott, B. B. (2008). Research Design and Methods: A Process Approach, 7th Edition.
Patton, J. M.,
Taylor, S. E. (2009). Health Psychology, 7th Edition.