Oh goody, blogs are starting again, what a thrilling way to start February…
I thought I’d start with an easy blog topic to not frazzle my mind completely on this lovely Sunday morning!
Reliability is a way of kind of knowing what to expect from something/someone/a researcher or any area of research in psychology in this case. If a researcher is able to produce the same quality of work and similar results, they are considered reliable. Reliability is built upon consistency as well as repeatability and any researcher should consider reliability when designing a study. If results from an experiment have reliability then it is more likely that if the study is replicated then similar results will be found, therefore building upon the big stirring pot of psychological knowledge so that one day, the research can go further and something can be discovered which could change the world as we know it, (cheesy i know).
Reliability is not just seen in research, it is also seen in daily life. For example, in sport, a football player must have a reputation of being good in order to be popular among the fans. They must have a reputation of having a high level of playing performance over a range of situations, in this case, different games in different places etc., and if this player is reliable then his behaviour would be expected to be consistent and good every single time he played a game. Also, his reputation would increase of being a good player if every time he played; he got better and better, therefore reinforcing the fact that he a reliable player.
Joppe (2000) defines reliability as… ‘the extent to which results are consistent over time and an accurate representation of the total population under study is referred to as reliability and if the results of a study can be reproduced under a similar methodology, then the research instrument is considered to be reliable’.
However, although reliability is essential in research, a measure can be perfectly reliable but not valid. For example, say the weighing scales in your bathroom say that you weigh 2 stone less than your actual true weight and every time you weigh yourself, this same figure occurs. Although this scale is very invalid, it is perfectly reliable as your weight is consistently the same every time you weigh yourself. Another example involving research would be a questionnaire assessing job interviewees and whether they are right for the job they are applying for, including questions like ‘do you eat pizza when you watch TV on a Saturday night?’, although this question is invalid on assessing whether an individual is right for a job, you would most probably get similar answers when testing the same sort of individual, therefore making it reliable. This could suggest that although it is ‘an essential’ to have reliability when conducting a research study, it could not work with its nice companion ‘validity’. A research experiment has to be valid and reliable in order to be completely accurate.
Overall, reliability is essential to have for any researcher under taking a research experiment as it shows that the findings are more likely to be replicated and therefore it can be built on to find even more significant results. However it is inevitable that research could be reliable but not valid as seen in the examples I have given so for an experiment to be able to have reliable findings, they have to also make sense and have validity.