Preview

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Most of us have mobiles and in Britain alone we send over a billion texts a month. But little is yet known about the psychological effects of the mobile phone. Is it changing the way we relate to each other and if so, is it for better or worse? How can psychologists research these questions?

This programme examines researching young people’s use of mobile phones with three different non-experimental methods. We see the research taking place which is inter-cut with the researchers explaining their methods and findings, young people’s views on mobiles and expert analysis.

The programme is divided into three linked but self-standing sections:

1: Questionnaire Surveys

Psychology: Non-Experimental Research MethodsPsychology: Non-Experimental Research MethodsPsychology: Non-Experimental Research Methods

We begin by asking why psychologists use non-experimental methods. Then we see psychologist, Kate Stoney, studying patterns of mobile phone use through questionnaire methods. We look at some of the issues involved in good questionnaire design and the advantages of this method. Kate has found a clear correlation between preferred use of mobile and personality type, which she claims demonstrates how mobiles can improve social relationships. But what about the limitations of the questionnaire design?

2: Interviews

Psychology: Non-Experimental Research MethodsPsychology: Non-Experimental Research MethodsPsychology: Non-Experimental Research Methods

In this section we follow Sam Brassington using unstructured interviews to study mobile phone use amongst young people. By exploring mobile use in more depth, Sam found that there were also negative aspects to mobile use, such as worries over costs, feelings of being under constant surveillance and bullying via the mobile. We end this section by comparing questionnaire and interview methods and identifying some of their common limitations.

3: Naturalistic Observation

Psychology: Non-Experimental Research MethodsPsychology: Non-Experimental Research MethodsPsychology: Non-Experimental Research Methods

Here we follow two psychologists as they carry out naturalistic observation research on mobile use. We see at first hand some of the practical difficulties and ethical issues involved in this type of research. We also see some of the benefits getting ‘first hand’ data. The research has shown that younger people tend to use their mobiles much more collaboratively than older people and that for them the mobile is a key part of collective social interaction. We conclude by looking at some of the general issues involved in non-experimental research.

Non-Experimental Research Methods

Running time 32 minutes.

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