Statistics in Psychology: How Psychology Data Are Analyzed
17.7 million American women have been victims of attempted or completed rape (National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 1998; Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network [RAINN], 2009) and were three times more likely to suffer from depression (World Health Organization, 2002; RAINN, 2009). Statistics like these help psychologists know how common an incident is and to determine what may be wrong with their patient thus being able to treat them more efficiently. Statistics, like those above, apply every day in psychology, are extremely important, and analyzed in a specific way.
How Statistics are used in Psychology
Most psychological research involves measuring and analyzing observations of certain characteristics of a population or a sample of a population (Statistics for psychology, n.d.). In other words, it involves the use of statistics. Statistics answers whether or not one variable affects another variable (Cherry K., n.d.). Psychology would not be near as useful if psychologists did not know how one incident may affect an individual and their future, or how well a technique works to elevate certain issues.
To begin with, a psychiatrist would ask a question and design a relevant research experiment. They then must collect data in an unbiased manner, such as a double-blind trial, using psychometric instruments to measure psychological states (Why study statistics in psychology, 2007). After the experiment finishes and all the possible data is collected, the psychiatrist would use statistics to measure the relationship using the data they collected (Cherry K., n.d.).
Statistics then analyzes the observations, or data, collected. It determines if a change has occurred and to what extent (Why study statistics in psychology, 2007). Like in the example of a depressed patient given only therapy compared to anti-depressant drugs. Do the drugs make a large difference in the overall mood of the patient? If the answer is yes, psychiatrists know that giving anti-depressants will help a patient. If there was not a large difference, a psychiatrist may want to try to help their patient with therapeutic techniques only and use drugs as a last resort. A psychiatrist must know the overall strength of a relationship (Cherry K., n.d.). Statistics helps them determine this. Such as the relationship between the diagnoses of ADHD, sexual abuse, age, gender, and the likelihood that they will experience abuse again (Why study statistics in psychology, 2007). It may seem that one causes or is a precursor to the other, but if the relationship were not strong, then it would suggest that one does not related to the other.
Furthermore, statistics figures out what the result means (Cherry K., n.d.). If a relationship is linear, then a psychologist can infer that the relationship is strong. In other words, one variable does influence the other variable. For...