Statistics is a process of which we obtain, organise and make sense of numerical quantitative data to conclusion. It is vital to Research Processes, with its scientific methods which helps our development of understanding in Psychology.
One of the advantages of using Statistics is that it allow us to make collected data to be in a more standardised format. This makes it easier to compare between collected data but also become more objective. Too often Qualitative data are guilty of being too influenced by researchers’ point of view and even biased in some cases under the tendency to support the research hypothesis. However, with quantitative data, it is less likely to be affected by the researchers as it demonstrates the finding itself, without requiring the researchers’ own interpretation.
Investigating using Statistics used to be a very long and hard process. The introducing of computer software to do statistics not only makes the process so much more easier but also decreases the chance of making mistakes. Furthermore, the uses of Statistics allow us to represent our data by graphs or charts on computers. This helps the researcher to convey their idea across by stimulating the readers visually to understand the relationship between variables.
Statstics, especially Correlation, been criticised on not capable to establish Cause and Effect. This is due to we only investigate how likely the two or more variables would interact with each others, and often ignore individual cases and anonymous data. However, this reductionist approach makes it easier for us to investigate and increase the validity if the anonymous data are in fact caused by errors of which would spoil the chance of us making a sound conclusion.
Despite the disadvantages of Correlation, it is still a very useful way of measuring data for evidences supporting conclusions. It helps us to indicate how strong the relationships are between variables, and the stronger they are, the higher the validity. Its usefulness can be demonstrated by many studies, an example would be the correlation study on Naval Crew (Rahe RH 1970). The study involves investigating with 2684 Naval Crew on how stress, measured by LCU, seeing whether it would influence on illness rates on board. With a study with that many participants, correlation makes it easier for us to investigate the relationships.
As a conclusion, Statisics has a vital role in Psychology. It helps providing techniques and empirical, objective data which help developing our understanding. It also helps make sense of data from different sources, and allow comparison with standardised findings. Without Statistics, conclusion in researches would be subjective and lack of reliability, as it would be difficult to falsify researchers’ interpretations.Eugene Kwun Kit Fung 23/10/2011