Case Studies in Psychology
Defining a Case Study
For students taking a humanity or a social science course in college, a case study is one of the inevitable assignments. At one point or the other, you will be required to carry out such a study to fill a gap in a situation where research is not feasible. In which case, you will look into an actual or fictional person or event.
A case study, hence, can be defined as the study of an isolated occurrence. This can include an individual, a group of people, or a particular event. Whereby you are expected to study the case in-depth to address the subject of the assignment.
In the field of psychology, like social science, case studies are immensely resourceful for research. As a matter of fact, most early psychologists relied on case studies to explore and refine their understanding of the human brain.
A case study in psychology entails analyzing the life of a subject keenly and over an extended period. This means that it has to include his or her background and history. This is done in search of patterns in their behavior, hence also finding their causes.
Types of Case Studies in Psychology
In psychology, case studies can vary significantly in nature. However, the structure and formatting styles remain consistent across the various types. In this article, we shall look at some of the common variations applied by psychologists currently.
- Collective – This type of case study entails examining a group of people, either a specific setting or a community.
- Descriptive – Carried out for comparison with a descriptive theory.
- Explanatory – This case study looks to determine an effect as a result of its causes.
- Exploratory – This case study sets the foundation for further research.
- Instrumental – Researchers seek to investigate beyond mere observations.
- Intrinsic – This case study is characterized by personal interest from the researcher.
H2: Obtaining the Information
Sources of information are immensely vital for a case study to be valid. The researcher has to ensure that they are gathering the information from reliable sources. The following are the primary sources in psychology.
- The most elementary source is an observation of the subject. This can be both passively or as a participant.
- Documents that may have been left behind by the individuals are also vital.
- A researcher can also interview the subject of the case study.
- Records from the government are equally a reliable source of information.
- Physical items can also be used in observation.
From the sources named above, we can distinguish two different methods of obtaining information. On the one hand, you have a prospective study where the subjects are observed to establish the implications. On the other hand, retrospective studies entail going through historical documents.
In conclusion, case studies play an integral role in research in psychology. Over the years, researchers have continually applied this method to acquire in-depth insight into the human brain's working. As the field grows, so will the relevance of case studies in academic circles.