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The Social Research Methodology. Research Stages

Research Questions

While working in the field of psychology, it is immensely important to possess the skills of a reflective practitioner. This means that one should pay attention to theories and practical values dominating the field (Bolton, 2010). Apart from that, it is essential to pose proper research questions since it enables a practitioner to find new answers and acquire insights related to the investigated field. The current paper focuses on three examples of research questions that are asked by scholars who conduct researches in the field of social psychology.

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Reflective Practitioner

In the introduction, the author of the present paper emphasizes the importance of being a reflective practitioner. In the current section, the concept of reflective practice is explained in a detailed way. This concept was developed by American psychologist John Dewey in the 1930s and further investigated by the philosopher Donald Schön in the early 1980s. According to Dewey (1933), being reflective meant being “active, persistent, and careful” when considering “any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it and the further conclusions to which it tends” (p. 118). Therefore, reflective practice implies a practitioner’s ability to learn from experience and gain knowledge from reflection on one’s actions (Schön, 1983). In other words, a reflective practitioner acquires knowledge not only via a formal learning process.

The skill to continuous learning from the working experience is particularly crucial for psychologists. These specialists are actively engaged in the interaction with other people, and they should view every individual as a separate and unique case. Apparently, a psychologist might deal with everyday problems, but, in spite of this fact, he or she still should search for an unprecedented approach to each client. This is impossible if a specialist does not make inferences from the cases of preceding clients if they do not learn on experience and base treatment only on the knowledge retrieved from books and scholarly articles. What is more, reflective practice allows a psychologist to comprehend yourself better and indicate a space for improvement. As a reflective practitioner, psychologists constantly look back on the previous cases and analyze the clients responses on their actions and treatment, their emotions. This enables a practitioner to add more information to the already existing knowledge and, thus, better understand how to improve practice.

Academic Research Questions

The topics examined in the field of social psychology are incredibly diversified. The present paper focuses on the research questions connected with such topics as prejudice, persuasion, and leadership. The first example of the research question is based on the article by Badea and Sherman (2019). The authors dedicate their study to whether it is possible to reduce prejudice and, if possible, how (Badea & Sherman, 2019). Although Badea and Sherman (2019) do not explicitly indicate the research question, it could be formulated as follows: How does self-affirmation reduce prejudice to minority groups in society? To answer this question, the researches observe the problem of raise of prejudice towards immigrants in France and the US related to various threats posed by newcomers. This question implies the conduction of an empirical study that would allow the researchers to come to conclusions on the real-time examples.

The second example of the research question in social psychology was retrieved from the article by Rocklage, Rucker, and Nordgren (2018), who try to comprehend the relations between emotions, language, and ability to persuade others. The analysis of the work reveals that the research question that Rocklage et al. (2018) answer is: Is it possible that the existence of the intention to persuade another person unconsciously makes the speaker use more emotional appeals? This question implies that the authors will have to conduct a range of empirical surveys so that to prove the existence or the absence of such a link between language, persuasion, and emotions.

The third research question relates to the topic of leadership. Before looking at scholarly articles, one could suggest that phycologists who examine the phenomenon of supremacy pose research questions that make them understand what personal qualities are inherent to good chiefs, why other people tend to follow them, why and how informal leaders appear, is it possible to develop CEOs qualities and become an effective manager without them. The article, written by Inceoglu et al. (2018), examines the links between a boss’s behavior and the well-being of employees. Consequently, Inceoglu et al. (2018) answer the following research question: How does a leader’s behavior affect the well-being of employees? This question signifies the necessity to conduct empirical surveys and investigate the cases of some particular companies and organizations to answer the stated problem. Although the results of the mentioned research are rather straightforward, Inceoglu et al. (2018) drive attention to the fact that a leader under no circumstances should neglect the subordinates’ well-being.

The research questions listed above are of great importance and interest for practitioners in social psychology. That is so because the findings based on the investigation of these questions could be applied in the process of interacting with clients and improve the quality of practice. In addition, it is essential to remember that research questions provide answers to the previously unsolved problems. Therefore, they would be necessary for the practitioners because they bring scientific novelty. From this, it could be inferred that the introduced questions facilitate social psychologists to understand individuals’ behavior and motivation better. In turn, this enables them to provide more efficient help and recommendations for people who need them.

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Apart from the individual practitioners, these research questions express the interests and priorities of such professional organizations as the Association for Psychological Science (APS). The primary goal of this organization’s members is to “provide a richer understanding of the world through their research, teaching, and application of psychological science” (Association for Psychological Science, n.d., para. 1). Since the presented research questions close gaps in the psychological topics, they bring novelty to the scientific community, explain how psychology could be used in reality, and contribute to a better understanding of the surrounding world and behavior of people.

Goals for Future Learning

The articles described above reveal the existence of gaps in the current knowledge of social research methodology of this paper’s author. More precisely, it remains relatively unclear how to design research, choose a sample, and decide how big it should be. Apart from that, the author lacks experience on how to conduct a quantitative analysis of the collected data. Besides, in terms of data collection, it should be admitted that the author needs to learn how to decide which method would be better: an interview, an observation, a survey, or a case study and work with other researches and documents. Still, understanding the existence of a gap indicates in which direction one should move to develop skills and acquire new knowledge.


Association for Psychological Science (n.d.). About APS – Who We Are. Web.

Badea, C., & Sherman, D. K. (2019). Self-affirmation and prejudice reduction: When and why? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 28(1), 40-46.

Bolton, G. (2010). Reflective practice: Writing and professional development (3rd ed.). Sage Publications.

Dewey, J. (1933) How We Think. Heath & Co Publishers.

Inceoglu, I., Thomas, G., Chu, C., Plans, D., & Gerbasi, A. (2018). Leadership behavior and employee well-being: An integrated review and a future research agenda. The Leadership Quarterly, 29(1), 179-202.

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Rocklage, M. D., Rucker, D. D., & Nordgren, L. F. (2018). Persuasion, emotion, and language: The intent to persuade transforms language via emotionality. Psychological Science, 29(5), 749-760.

Schön, D. A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. Basic Books.

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