Psychology Study Material: Content Analysis and Focus Groups

Get top class preparation for competitive exams right from your home: get questions, notes, tests, video lectures and more- for all subjects of your exam.

Content Analysis

Part of archival research: An approach for systematically categorizing and analysing the content of the behaviour or its related aspects/variables being studied.

Content Analysis
  • The analysis may cover contents of live human behaviour, books, journals, magazines, poetry, drama, movies, folktales, TV programs, school textbooks and curricula, advertisements etc.
  • Inferences are made, and conclusions are drawn after objective identification of specific characteristics of contents.
  • Content analysis is done keeping specific goals, objectives, themes and constructs in mind.
  • Example: Content analysis of textbooks with reference to gender equity and equality; analysis of TV programs with reference to portrayal of women.

Focus Groups

  • A variety of interviews conducted in a group setting.
  • The researcher talks to the participants in order to learn about their opinions, attitudes, preferences, likes/dislikes and tries to find out their reasons/cause.
  • Used as a source of data collection in surveys but also used otherwise as well.


  • A statistics-based method
  • A way of reviewing existing research literature in the same field, about the same phenomena
  • The analysis covers the results of several independent experiments within the same field
  • Computer aided statistical analysis yields overall conclusions.

Experimental Research

  • Experimental method: the use of experimentation for studying a phenomenon.
  • Experimental design: the plan/structure/lay out of an experiment.
  • Experiment: the variable of interest (independent variable) is manipulated/altered and the effect of this manipulation is studied.

Why Experiments Are Conducted?

  • For testing hypotheses
  • To test the impact of a treatment or a program on behaviour
  • The main feature of experimentation is CONTROL; keeping all those variables and conditions under control, that can have an impact on the findings of the study i.e.. , variables that can interfere with the impact of the independent variable.


i. Independent Variable

ii. Dependent Variable

iii. Control Variable

  • Independent Variable (IV) : The variable whose impact is being studied; that is manipulated … in terms of kind or level
  • Dependent Variable (DV) : The measure of behaviour on which the impact of independent variable is being studied
  • Control variable (CV) : A potential independent variable that can have an impact upon dependent variable; it has to be controlled

Groups in a Typical Experiment

  • Experimental Group: This is treated with the independent variable.
  • Control Group, the no-treatment group that is kept under controlled conditions.

Experimental Designs

  • Within- Subjects Design
  • Between- Subjects Design

Within Subject Design

  • The experimental design in which the subjects՚ performance is compared with their own performance i.e.. , only one group of subjects is used.
  • Before-After No Control Group Design: Varieties of Before-after no control group designs: ABABA and ABABABBA designs

Between Subjects Experimental Design

The experimental design in which two or more groups of subjects are used and their performance is compared with each other:

  • Classical Experimental Design
  • After- Only Experimental Design

Problems associated with experimental research:

  • Artificiality of behaviour is a possibility
  • Subjects may be under stress or pressure
  • Time consuming and expensive
  • Ethical issues: can we tell all about the nature of experiment to the subjects? ? ?

Developed by: