Research can be done in the various fields of Psychology, theoretical and applied.
We need to first explore whether we are interested in theory development or in using information for bringing changes in the world (application).
So, what is a theory? And what is application?
A theory is an interconnected set of concepts or ideas that gives a framework for thinking, understanding and analyzing any issue. It explains the nature of things. It helps us to make generalizations, find exceptions by setting norms, standards to the concepts. It tells us what ought to be, what to expect when we come across something new.
We can and do have theories in our day to day life... we have theories about how our day will go depending on how it started! Or about how a particular activity/project is to be undertaken and what end it will achieve.. a theory is generated if we ask if certain things go together...how they are connected to each other
When used in science however, a 'theory' becomes different. In science, theory is an explanation or statement of relations that are supported through objectively collected data and unbiased observations.
So, how do we do theoretical research?
we may identify an already stated theory and verify or substantiate it by gathering more data about it or
we may state a new theory through review of previous theories, analyzing them critically and stating our own observations in the form of a theory!
E.g. we can do research on a particular learning theory, motivation theory or personality theory..
An application is using theories to address concerns faced in day to day life. More about application research in the next post!