Case study in psychology
Case study in psychology refers to the use of a descriptive research approach to obtain an in-depth analysis of a person, group, or phenomenon. A variety of techniques may be employed including personal interviews, direct-observation, psychometric tests, and archival records. In psychology case studies are most often used in clinical research to describe rare events and conditions, which contradict well established principles in the field of psychology. Case studies are generally a single-case design, but can also be a multiple-case design, where replication instead of sampling is the criterion for inclusion. Like other research methodologies within psychology, the case study must produce valid and reliable results in order to be useful for the development of future research. Distinct advantages and disadvantages are associated with the case study in psychology. The case study is sometimes mistaken for the case method, but the two are not the same.
The use of case studies, a method developed by Harvard University School of Business, is popular in executive training programs. A complex problem, or case, of the kind faced daily by managers and executives, is presented to the trainees prior to a general meeting. The trainees are expected to familiarize themselves with the information and to find additional relevant material. When they meet as a group, each member must be prepared to interpret the problem and offer a solution. Through the presentation of diverse viewpoints, the trainees come to approaches to solving it. Usually the cases have no one correct solution. The group leader does not suggest an answer. The group as a whole must reach consensus and resolve the problem.
One major advantage of the case study in psychology is the potential for the development of novel hypotheses for later testing. Second, the case study can provide detailed descriptions of specific and rare cases
Famous case studies in psychology
- Harlow - Phineas Gage
- Breuer & Freud (1895) - Anna O.
- Cleckley's (1941) case studies of psychopathy (The Mask of Sanity) and Multiple Personality Disorder (The Three Faces of Eve) (1957)
- Freud and Little Hans
- Freud and the Rat Man
- John Money and the John/Joan case
- Genie (feral child)
- Piaget's studies
- Rosenthal's book on the murder of Kitty Genovese
- Washoe (sign language)
^ Schultz & Schultz, Duane (2010). Psychology and work today. New York: Prentice Hall. pp. 201–202. ISBN 0-205-68358-4.