1) “I am scientific!!” – nirapsy

2) No Ambiguities – tlf23

3) Are Qualitative Methods Always Subjective? – psychology invaders

4) Is it dishonest to remove outliers and/or transform data? – bannee diu

5) Qualitative research isn’t as scientific as quantative methods – jessywessywoooo




Final blog of the semester!

Likert or not, here I come! 😀


There has always been a discrepancy as to whether it is best to use a likert or forced scale when creating a survey/questionnaire and gathering data (Bartlett, 1960).  But what are the differences between these scales that make them such a arguable topic within quantative data collecting?

With a likert scale questionnaire, we obtain a wide variety of options, most often something like; do you agree with this statement?

  • Strongly Agree
  • Agree
  • Neither Agree nor Disagree
  • Disagree
  • Strongly Disagree

and then we get to select an option…

But with a forced, the answer choices are even, essentially missing out the “Neither Agree nor Disagree” option so we are forced to select an answer (see that they did with the name there!  Very clever!)  So we get an answer choice that looks a lot like this for the same question ‘Do you agree with this statement?’:

  • Strongly Agree
  • Agree
  • Disagree
  • Strongly Disagree

Essentially, using a forced option means missing out the middle man; the “maybe”‘s or the “not sure”‘s or “don’t know”‘s so a definitive answer can be collected.  This method of collecting results is also known as an ‘ipsative’  measure and is more google-friendly to look-up, but let’s just stick with the word forced for now…

Johnson et al (1988) claims that using forced-choice testing is unethical, purely because the participant is stripped of free-will and is forced to assume an option or a second-best option which is in itself, gives an inaccuracy to results.  If participants are simply given a “yes” or “no” answer, this could generate the possibility of ‘static’ results;  But gaining a definitive answer in results is what most researchers look for; what good is a “maybe” when we want to discover a “yes” or “no” answer?  In essence, Parker et. al (2002) goes as far as to say that “maybe” answers are (in some cases) just as useful as outliers when we are looking for definitive answers in research, and casting away these “middle” choices in some cases, is better for the research as a whole.  But then of course, this option is also walking a fine line when it comes to generating ethically correct data and really puts the reliability at risk.

According to Martin et al (1995)’s study on Faking Personality Questionnaires however, forced options are much more emperically correct as it stops participants from faking, or exaggurating their scores.  Participants may also “shy away” from the edges of high-rated scores (particularly females) and this may affect the overall scores of answers.  But when given options such as “I like to go out and party” or “I’d rather stay in and read a book” means a participant places themselves in an either-or catagory, relating the most likely option to themselves, rather than placing themselves lower/higher than deserved on a trait-rating scale.

Ultimately, although there is a discrepancy with using ‘forced’ choice questionnaires, using likert scales must also be carefully written, as when participants are given multiple-choices, the ways in which the answers are written can also have an impact onto answers given.  I however, would much rather a definitive, to-the-point answer of “this” or “that” to collect my data, so I’m thinking forced choice answers are definitely something I will be looking into when compiling any questionnaires in the future!  There is no clinically ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ method of use, as long as surveyors bare in mind the impact of using either/or scale to collect and create data in both positive and negative ways so that the reliability (and honesty) of the research is little affected!

Happy surveying!

I’ve always been passionate about equality, whether its skin tone, race, religion or indeed, sexuality.  While I understand the basic ethical principals of discussing sexuality and realise it could be classed as a sensitive topic (APA, 6th Edition) I may find myself ranting about the bullies who claim that there is no freedom to love the same sex.  Since, of course, this is a stats and psychology blog, I shall also be explaining the possible reasons why people essentially bully those with a different sexual orientation.

“When I was in the military they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.”  ~Epitaph of Leonard P. Matlovich, 1988

Attempting to not ruffle any feathers, I shall just dish out the statistics:

  • 84% of LGBT students report being verbally harassed (name calling, threats, etc.) because of their sexual orientation.
  • 91.5% of LGBT students report hearing homophobic remarks at school
  • 82.9% of LGBT students report that faculty or staff never intervened or intervened only some of the time when present and homophobic remarks were made.
  • 97% of high school students report hearing homophobic remarks regularly from peers.
  • 53% of students report hearing homophobic comments made by school staff.
  • It is estimated that between 15 and 25 children commit suicide every year in the UK alone, because they are being bullied.
  • The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has found that gay, lesbian and bisexual youth attempt suicide at a rate three to six times that of similar-age heterosexual youth.

[Source: (All from GLSEN. (2003). The 2003 national school climate survey: the school related experiences of our nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.) http://www.youthprideri.org/Resources/Statistics/tabid/227/Default.aspx]

These shocking statistics are just the tip of the iceburg when it comes down to homophobic bullying; I find it so difficult to believe that adults such as teachers can also be bullies, but to understand the main reason for homophobic bullying, we must first look at bullying as a whole.

Following Fuller (2008)’s rankism (reasons for bullying and discriminatory behaviour based on the need for heirarchy status) it makes sense that many human beings – whatever position they’re in! – will bully the minority to assume their dominance.   But as shocking as a unwilling-to-step-in teacher sounds, there are also reports that argue the bystander affect is as rife amongst teachers as it is amongst pupils when it comes to bullying.  According to Entenman, (2005) a teacher may not intervene because they are a minority (i.e. a group of students vs. a single teacher), despite their age and position, furthermore, a teacher may not step in because of bullying by fear of being bullied themselves out of association (which is as rife amongst staff as it is school peers – this would involve ‘Workplace Bullying’).  Mac an Ghaill (1994) say that 93% of homonegativism arises from a general belief in Western cultures that gay men are sexually coercive.  In his study of concepts of masculinity among secondary school pupils, Mac an Ghaill found that male pupils believed that being in close proximity to a gay man may have an effect on their own sexuality.  In other words, people were concerned that a sexuality could be “caught” like a common cold!  Crazy, huh?!

“Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands?”  ~Ernest Gaines

In the United Kingdom, the Equality and Human Rights Commission reported in 2010 that “Homophobic bullying is widespread in British secondary schools. Nearly half of all secondary schoolteachers in England acknowledge that such bullying is common, and just 1 in 6 believe that their school is very active in promoting respect for LGBT students.”

So should we be doing something about this lack of respect?  Most certainly!

If (according to Mac an Ghaill) the main reason behind homophobic bullying is the insecurity that a sexuality could be passed on by some sort of weird contact (the quote they claimed they heard the most from bullies was:  “I don’t really mind gays, as long as they don’t  touch me”) then it is obvious students are ill-educated in schools and respect and understanding on all equality should most definitely be hammered home!  Ignorance amongst cultures, races, religions and gender/sexuality are the causes of things like this.  And although tolerance is seemingly improving (D’Angelli, et al. 2002) there is still so much to do!

“Who would give a law to lovers?  Love is unto itself a higher law.”  ~Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy, A.D. 524

Over the past ten years, ten countries now allow legalised gay-marriage, us in the UK for example, only support civil unions (which do not have the same rights as a lawful marriage!) by 2015, parliament wants to implicate the gay marriage legalisation, but that’s still a long way away!

Sexuality certainly isnt something that can be simply “passed on” by others… but homophobia is!  If we educate our youth about equality, we ultimately change these shocking statistics about homophobic bullying – afterall, bullies are inclined to pick on a “minority” – and a minority is only a minority if there is no one else to stand beside them!

[References are hyperlinked]

Hi Thandi!

Comments are up for this week;

1) Well That’s Some Good Research… But Can I See Your References? – theproblemwithstats

2) Is It Possible to Prove A Research Hypothesis? – psud1a

3) Why Is Reliability Important? – cppap

4) Is there a need to learn stats when we have SPSS? – destroypenguins




According to scientific studies, between the ages of 18-25, students like us are at the most risk of suffering with a mental health disorder, but why is this? (See Figure 1 below)

According to Kitzrow (2010), , the answer lies more within the students who study psychology; as she believes, that many students don’t just choose psychology because they like the subject, but they purposefully seek to understand the ways in which the human mind works in order to understand themselves and those close to them more.  Afterall, if we can relate to something, we are more likely to empathise! (M. Bennett, 1979).  By researching the amount of students that went to see university counsellors, she found that 46% of all course students were from the psychology sector and the rest (all in single digit percentages!) were from the other subjects.     But this doesn’t necessarily mean that we psychology students have any more reason to visit a counsellor than any other student!

Youngminds.org claim that only 1 in 10 young adults actually seek out support between the ages of 18-25; perhaps this is the number that we should be paying more attention to?  For example, agreeing with Kitzrow – we do study psychology for a reason, but not necessarily because we instantly have worse problems than our non-psych peers!   Psychology students may be more at ease with the stigma because they study psychology, rather than because our problems are definititively more problematic than other students’!  We may understand that seeking help for when we feel anxious, or stressed, or for many other reasons isn’t all so bad because we could (in future) be sat where that university counsellor is sitting!  So maybe those statistics for the 1 in 10 young people seeking help may be different for us psychs?  Perhaps we’re just less fickle about opening up?  Other students may not understand that it’s okay to talk, and this may be the reason why we stand at 46% in comparison to our peers.

Across the age ranges, 23% of us will suffer from a mental health condition at some point (MIND.co.uk/NHS) but these statistics are only taken from those who admit that there is or has been a problem.  As psychology students, we are instantly double that number!  But the research shouldn’t necessarily be looking at those of us who admit that there’s a problem, rather than, it should be focused on those who don’t!

Luo Lu (2009)  believes that university students are more disposed to suffering and opening up with our mental health due to our five big personality traits! Our extroversion, conscientiousness, neuroticism, openness, and agreeableness are all characteristics of us ending up at university in the first place!  We must afterall, be pretty conscientious to end up as undergraduates and stay in education; those students who are a little more extroverted and less neurotic, may be more inclined to experiment with drugs; her findings also suggested that those who were the more extroverted students were more likely to suffer with insomnia and sleep disorders (from all those late night parties, right? :P) and those who were neurotic were more likely to have anxiety and depression disorders.

In conclusion, we are at a very strange age range when it comes to our mental health; there could be a number of reasons why we have the most issues at this age, but there really isn’t a definative answer!  All I can say to my psych peers is, either we’re opening up to our support services how we should and we should all have a pat on the back, or in reality we are part of the crazy club and need to be slowly wheeled away…

Are we seeking too much support or are our non-psych peers not doing it enough?


[All references are hyperlinked]

[EVERYONE knew this was going to be written about by me at some point, so lets start!]

[Hmm, this is still stats based, but about a mental health condition, so is this acceptable as a topic?  I guess only my marks will be able to tell me!  Still, I wanted a break from writing about outliers or stats by themselves, so I included this, I really do hope that this is acceptable!  After seeing some of the ideas for the wild-card weeks, about politics, psych as a science and the helsinki convention and the 5 ethical approaches, I figured this would be okay!  Fingers crossed! *throws lots of extra stats in there to make sure!*]

Dissociative Identity Disorder (or as the ICD-10 labels it, the more common name of ‘Multiple Personality Disorder’) is a mental health condition whereby a person displays distinct personalities known as ‘alters’ or ‘alter egos’.  The alter egos often have names and traits, with their own ways of thinking, acting, percieving and interacting with their environment – just like any other ‘real’ person (only they live within one ‘core’ body, often known as the ‘host’).  They ‘take over’ a hosts body and can be quite uncontrollable, causing the host to suffer amnesia upon return ((Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition (DSM-III, American Psychiatric Association [APA], 1980), followed by the DSM-III-R (APA, 1987) and DSM-IV (APA, 1994)*

So here are the stats:

Dell (2008) believes that 62% of mental health professionals don’t actually believe this condition exists!**  I can understand why some professionals would doubt it; afterall, how seemingly good would it be to do something and blame it on someone else?  To ‘pretend’ to run away from your problems and claim that someone else is doing it for you… In the strangest way, I’m not sure I would believe it if I wasn’t diagnosed with the condition myself… but for all those doubters out there, DID certainly is not sunshine and daisys and is FAR from an easy disorder to juggle! (This is from my own experience.)

Researchers believe that 0.01%-10% of the general population suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder to some degree, and the rate of diagnosis is increasing.  Between the years of 1980 and 1990, there were 20,000 cases reported in the United States and Canada alone.  DID is often misdiagnosed, and the numbers are now predicted to be in the regions of anywhere from 25,000 to 250,000 people – that is a huge range!  Due to the condition being either misdiagnosed or just disbelieved by most health care professionals, this is the complete range of estimates of those with DID.  People with multiple personalities tend to have a wide range of symptoms that can be confused with other, more common disorders. As a result, it typically takes at least six years for a diagnosis of multiple personality disorder to be made!***

But if my word isnt enough, and all these people who are claiming to have ‘alters’ routinely taking control of their life isnt enough, non-believers cannot possibly doubt the smaller hippocampal and amygdala volumes in the brain with patients with DID:

How could mental health professionals possibly doubt the diminished volumes of limbic system?!  The amygdalai volumes were 31.6% smaller than those without the disorder (with DID: mean=1455.97 mm3, SD=331.42; those without: mean=2128.34 mm3, SD=717.85) surely this would account for the amnesic states and poor memory associated with DID patients?****

For those who aren’t aware, the hippocampus is the key to our memory; short-term and long-term, and the amygdala is thought to be the key to our ’emotional’ or ‘traumatic’ memories, or responses; our ability to run on auto-pilot – it lights up on an fMRI scanner like a Christmas tree if any form of anxiety or phobia occurs.*****

We may not understand the condition fully, but there is no need to doubt it, particularly if there is physical evidence within the brain itself.  With stats like these – there should be no doubt that DID undoubtedly exists.

*ICD-10, DSM-IV-TR – p.47 – Dissociative Identity Disorder Diagnostics/Multiple Personality Disorder

** Paul F. Dell PhD – Why the diagnostic criteria for DID should be changed – DOI:10.1300/J229v02n01_02 – pages 7-37

*** Dr Roger Wesby, PhD; Remy Aquarone, psychotherapist and dissociative specialist.  The Pottergate Centre, Norwich. (2006)

**** Hippocampal and Amygdalar Volumes in Dissociative Identity Disorder – Eric Vermetten, M.D., Ph.D., Christian Schmahl, M.D., Sanneke Lindner, M.Sc., Richard J. Loewenstein, M.D., and J. Douglas Bremner, M.D. Am J Psychiatry 163:630-636, April 2006
doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.163.4.630


[Want more info about anything DID related? Dont hesitate to ask!]