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In this chapter, we consider this alternative approach.We begin with an overview of single-subject research, including some assumptions on which it is based, who conducts it, and why they do.Case studies can be useful for suggesting new research questions and for illustrating general principles.
The majority of this book is devoted to understanding group research, which is the most common approach in psychology.
But single-subject research is an important alternative, and it is the primary approach in some areas of psychology.
For each of several days, the researchers carefully recorded whether or not each student was doing schoolwork every 10 seconds during a 30-minute period.
Once they had established this baseline, they introduced a treatment.
The treatment was that when the student was doing schoolwork, the teacher gave him or her positive attention in the form of a comment like “good work” or a pat on the shoulder.
The result was that all of the students dramatically increased their time spent on schoolwork and decreased their disruptive behavior during this treatment phase.
A is a detailed description of an individual, which can include both qualitative and quantitative analyses.
(Case studies that include only qualitative analyses can be considered a type of qualitative research.) The history of psychology is filled with influential cases studies, such as Sigmund Freud’s description of “Anna O.” (see Note 10.5 "The Case of “Anna O.”") and John Watson and Rosalie Rayner’s description of Little Albert (Watson & Rayner, 1920), who learned to fear a white rat—along with other furry objects—when the researchers made a loud noise while he was playing with the rat.