Case Studies

March 7, 2021 - Paper 2 Psychology in Context | Research Methods

Case Studies


Description, AO1 of Case Studies:

  • An in-depth, detailed investigation of an individual or group.
  • It would usually include biographical details, as well as details of behaviours or experiences of interest to the researcher.
  • Usually carried out in the real world
  • Can use a variety of Psychology research methods (experimental and non-experimental) in order to collect data for the case study.

Methods used to collect information for case studies:

  • Questionnaires (open and closed questions)
  • Interviews
  • Observations

Evaluation of Case Studies:


(1) POINT: A strength of a case study is that it produces rich, detailed data. EXAMPLE: For example, a case study of an individual’s life is incredibly detailed and may highlight a number of important experiences that could have combined to cause them to become mentally ill. EVALUATION: This is positive because information that may be overlooked using other methods is likely to be identified.


(2) POINT: A strength os a cause study is that it provices insight into individuals. EXAMPLE:For example, rare mental disorders make it impossible to study large amounts of participants with that disorder because the behaviours or experiences are so unique that they could not have been studied in any other way. EVALUATION:This is positive because it helps to improve our understanding of behaviours that would otherwise not be possible.


(1) POINT: A weakness of a case study is that it is difficult to generalise the results. EXAMPLE: For example, a case study of an individual person might not be representative of anyone else because experiences are so individual that another person may not react in the same way. EVALUATION: This is a problem as it’s difficult to generalise to the rest of the population (low popultation validity) as each case has unique characteristics.

(2) POINT: A weakness of a case study is that it collects retrospective data. EXAMPLE: For example, a researcher might rely on asking individuals about their past to help form the case study, which can be reconstructive. EVALUATION:This is a problem as such evidence may have been recalled inaccurately and may therefore be unreliable.

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