DOI: 10.1177/14757257231222647 ISSN: 1475-7257

Against All Odds: Students’ Interest in, and Perceived Value of, Research and Nonresearch Psychology Subjects

Benjamin L. Lloyd-Lewis, Dan J. Miller, Amanda E. Krause
  • General Psychology
  • Education

Although research literacy is necessary for the competent delivery of psychological services, many psychology students hold negative attitudes toward research subjects. The current study explored undergraduate students’ perceptions of research subjects relative to nonresearch subjects. A sample of 249 Australian (45.4%) and Singaporean (54.6%) first-year university students ( Mage = 21.27, SDage = 5.14, females = 75.9%) indicated their interest in, and perceived value of, 32 psychology subjects (based on title and a short description). They also nominated their most/least interested and valued subject and provided a free-text explanation for their selections. Participants perceived research subjects as significantly less interesting and valuable relative to nonresearch subjects ( d values were indicative of a large difference for interest and a small-to-medium different for value). Cluster analysis indicated that research subjects are seen as distinct, forming their own cluster. This finding was supported by thematic analysis of participants’ open-ended responses. Students considered research subjects to be especially difficult, requiring skills they did not possess or enjoy using (e.g., mathematics), and lacking relevance to their future studies and intended careers. The findings suggest that research methods instructors should aim to emphasize the relevance of research to practice in high interest areas (e.g., psychopathology).

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