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Breast Milk - Research Methods in Psychology

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Breast milk is said to be nature's tailor made way of feeding babies. Controversy over the beneficial effects of breast milk on intelligence is on-going with some claiming that breastfed babies were more intelligent than formula fed babies. How would this be investigated?

1. State the research problem and propose a research hypothesis.

Research problem: Are breastfed babies more intelligent than formula fed babies?

Research hypothesis: Breast fed babies is smarter than formula fed babies.

2. Describe how you would use each of the following research methods to test your research hypothesis while clearly stating the operational definitions of "breastfed" and "intelligence" for each method.

(a) Naturalistic observation

Operational definitions:

Babies to have to be breast fed daily since birth till the age of 3 years.

Intelligence- Babies will be able to recognize simple basic letters.

Naturalistic observation is a research method that observes behaviour in its typical surroundings. The researcher investigates babies aged 3 years old in a nursery class. To prevent from interfering in the normal behaviour of the babies, the researcher has to fix CC- TVs and remote recorders around the class. These devices will reduce suspicion among the babies that they are being observed.

The teacher talks to the babies and they learn alphabets. The researcher will monitor the behaviour of the babies and record down the number of who are able to recognize the alphabets when asked. There will be number of them who will be unable to respond.

By evaluating the results, the researcher can conclude that there is a relationship between the babies' intelligence and intake of breast milk. In the researcher words, breastfed babies are smarter than formula fed babies.

(b) Correlation

A correlation study shows the relationship between two traits, behaviours or events. It needs a statistic method to find the degree of correlation. In this study, the targeted audience will be babies aged 6 months old. The researcher will accumulate data on the number of times babies are able to recognise words when being said against the amount of breast milk consumed for the past 6 months. This is to establish the relationship between the number of times babies response to their name and the amount of breast milk consumption during the 5 months. What this means is that there is a link between two variables which are number of times babies response when hearing words and amount of breast milk consumed. These two variables influence each another. If the researcher obtains a positive correlation it suggests that increase in the number of responses by the babies is matched by the increase in the number of breast milk consumed.

Operational definitions:

The amount of breast milk consumed daily since birth for a period of 6 months.

Intelligence- Babies will able to recognise words.

(c) Experimental

In experimental methods, the investigation is totally taken care of by the experimenter. The experimenter has control over the variables and surroundings. There are 2 variables involved in this experiment. Firstly is the independent variable and secondly is the dependent variable. Independent variable in this case is breast fed while the dependent variable is intelligence. There will be 2 groups. They are the experimental and the control groups. Experimental groups will consist of babies who are fed with breast milk whereas the control group will consist of babies who are fed with formula fed milk. There are 10 babies in each group.

During the start of the experiment, the babies will be individually taught to name and perform the 3 actions. This is to ensure that during the 'test' the babies are able to carry out the 3 actions promptly. When the 'test' is completed with each individual baby, the experimenter will able to attain his results. The discovery will be such that the experimental group could execute the actions that were told and name the actions when being asked compared to the control group. This happens because in the experimental group, the babies are fed with breast milk which boosts their intelligence compared to formula fed babies. Therefore, the experimenter can identify the clear cause-and-effect connections.

Operational definitions:

Breastfed- Babies are to be fed with breast milk till 3 years old.

Intelligence- Babies are able to name 3 actions e.g. skipping, jumping and running.

(d) Case study

Operational definitions:

Breastfed- A new born baby is fed with breast milk till the baby stopped the intake of breast milk before entering kindergarten.

Intelligence- Baby is able to score good grades during the first year of study in kindergarten.

A case study needs an individual who is being examined in detail. For this case, the researcher shall pick one new born baby and starts monitoring and doing the study on the baby. The baby should be fed with breast milk from the day he/she was born and the baby is to stop breast feeding before the baby enters kindergarten. The researcher shall work with the parents, siblings and maid if the baby has any. The researcher shall conduct interviews with them to gather information that is needed. As time goes by, the researcher will notice the changes and improvements in the baby. This will continue till the baby is registered into a kindergarten. The teacher will then assists in monitoring the baby's progress and performance during class and update them to the researcher. The researcher will take note and record down the marks of the baby when he/ she sit for any tests. At the end of the year, the researcher can conclude his investigation when the baby scores good grades in the examination.

(e) Survey method

Operational definitions:

Breastfed- Babies are given breast milk since birth up



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