Why are statistics important when studying Psychology?

Whilst thinking about my first blog I have considered different possibilities for a subject to write about that I would like to do more research on.  After much thought I have decided on the title of my first blog which will hopefully generate plenty of discussion and debate: ‘Why are statistics important when studying psychology?’

Whenever I have talked with others about matters relating to Psychology many people have made references to analysing people’s body language, their gestures and behaviours and so many people have suggested that Psychology is the study of analysing people and what they do but with the focus being on why people do what they do. This, of course, is true to a certain extent but in order to measure the different elements of psychology we need to use data and represent our findings in the form of statistics. Whenever we are conducting a research piece we can use both qualitative and quantitative methodologies to collect information and to determine findings that are accurate and complete. Some of the findings from quantitative research methods might be presented in statistical forms but it is without question that the findings from qualitative research need to be presented in the form of statistical data.

When doing research and finding out information on an area of interest the results need to be collected, processed and finalised into readable data.  The hypothesis can then be seen as accurate or inaccurate.

For example if you were to do a piece of comparative research on ‘How many children had learning difficulties in 3 different schools’?  You would need to collect data on how many children attended each school, how many children did have learning difficulties, and identify which learning difficulties they had.  All this information would have to then be collected and represented as statistics so that readers could have a clear idea about the outcome of the research.

Statistics are a vital part of Psychology and without them we would only have very limited ways of measuring and representing the findings of our research in ways that are clear and concise.


5 thoughts on “Why are statistics important when studying Psychology?

  1. You make an interesting point about the need for statistic’s and certainly when you conduct a large scale study including many people then statistics are vital for analysing the set set received. I would however argue that for some studies, practically those with a small number of participants a Qualitative research approach would work better, since this kind of research allows the questions to be explored further.

    To take your example while statistic’s could be used to show the breakdown of the numbers of learning disabled children attending each school, it would not highlight issues such as why a parent may have chosen one school over another one for their child’s education.

    Statistic’s help if there is sufficient data to analyse, if not they can give misleading results. (My blog was shown to students and 100% of them thought the blog was brilliant – a great result until I reveal that the only students asked were myself and my daughter … and she was told to say it was brilliant so I could prove this comment!)

  2. swmck says:

    Great first post, I just wondered if there was a counter argument? Are there any circumstances for which statistics are not vital in psychology? (I’m struggling to come up with any to be truthful) If there were it would just help to formualte more of an argument, then you could express your own opinion on the matter clearly because you’ve explored another perspective. Having said that, the comparative research example helps to explain your ideas well.

  3. kaydem says:

    I like the fact that your blog is chatty and less formal and that you tell readers what your thinking 🙂 I completely agree that there is more to psychology than just analysing people. i found your entry very interesting to read, although i would say perhaps you could have gave the definition of the two types of data qualitative and quantitative. but overall very good first attempt 🙂

  4. meiningera says:

    This blog is well structured and you state your point of view clearly. I agree that statistics mean we can statistically analyse data and draw conclusions from those results, however I do not agree that it is as important as you believe it to be. In some studies, statists are vital and comparisons need to be made, but Psychology is supposed to be looking at individuals and understanding them. If we limit their behaviour to a set of numbers we lose the complexity of the individual and use a hugely reductionist approach to research.
    I believe as Psychologists we need to use qualitative data that gives us detailed information on the behaviour carried out and the results found in experiments as we can then adopt a more holistic view and take the whole individual into account.

    Overall, you wrote a great blog and I agree with much of what you have said.


  5. evs26 says:

    An excellent first blog however i would have liked to have seen what your opinion was of a counter argument, is there any circumstances whereby statistics are not vital and a qualitative way of researching may be more sufficient? Case studies (which display their findings in the form of qualitative data often) have been found useful when researching areas such as phobias (little albert study) so i don’t agree that qualitative data (descriptive findings) should be dismissed all together.

    An example of research that has already been carried out that has used statistical data and has helped further our knowledge into a certain area of psychology successfully may have been useful to add such as Bandura’s ‘Bobo doll study’ who recorded the NUMBER of children who carried out an aggressive for non aggressive act.

    However, i do agree with you that statistics are in important part of psychological research and considering this is a first time blog, i think you have done a very good job and make many good points


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