Being a psychology major, one of the requirements for my school is taking 2 courses surrounding the topic of research methods/statistics. I started out that journey hearing horror stories of how difficult it was, how much work and time and energy went into it, how I’d have to conduct my own study and write a paper about my research, not to mention the fact that being a junior and knowing I wanted to work with eating disorders and addictions I had absolutely no interest in doing any sort of research. Here’s why:
For the past few years being in a few treatment programs I’ve heard a lot about research. “according to research…”, “the research does say that…”, was an infamous line that came out of therapists mouth almost on a daily basis and frankly, I was sick of it. Research, as far as I could tell, wasn’t accurate. At least not for me. I’d smirk whenever the psychologists would start a sentence out using those phrases. How would research benefit me? Nobody ever included me in one of the many studies done, so how the hell do they know?
So when I had to take a research methods and statistics course, I thought “oh boy, here we go. This class is going to suck”. Sure I’d try my hardest to get a good mark, but once that year was over with I would have nothing to do with research for the rest of my life and career in clinical psychology. But something happened the more I learned of the methods, research is so much more than just one individual.
Anecdotally speaking, research pertains to the vast majority of a population you’re studying and what I love about it is you can gain further perspective into human behaviors and cognitions by studying a sample of the population. So to bring it back to myself, as much as I hate to admit it, I was in part contained into the population of those with eating disorders. The research behind the disorders make sense and the more I look into areas of research I can see now that what researchers found in their results and analysis make total sense.
I love coming up with research questions about topics in the field I am passionate about. There’s something intriguing to me about having all of these questions, reading what other researchers have found and trying out methods to test my hypothesis. If you told me a year ago that research would be an area of psychology that I would end up being passionate about I would have laughed at you, but now I am actually in the beginning stages of my 2nd research project. This time I have higher goals than just to get a passing grade. I’m working with my professor who was also my research methods and statistics professor, and this round I’m working with her instead of doing everything on my own. I’m genuinely excited and to be honest I would probably do the project even without the incentive of earning Independent Research credit.
Thanatology became a high interest area of mine last semester when I took the class. It was relevant because of everything I was experiencing with my Grandma, and knowing this professor had research interests in that area I knew it was a good match. We met a few weeks ago and decided to do a study on social media/networks and coping with death. I am so excited about this and get more so as I read more and more articles pertaining to the topics.
For this research I want to present it at a conference psychology majors from my college go to every year, and there was even talk at our meeting of publishing the research. All of these things are what I was wanting to accomplish the minute I fell in love with research. It’s so much more than numbers, it’s a way to observe human cognition and behaviors in a hands on way. Wanting to be a clinical psychologist my whole undergraduate career I can see now the more I get into research why it is so helpful to the field.