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Phenomenology, Research Paper Example

Pages: 2

Words: 477

Research Paper

Introduction

The article being reviewed uses phenomenological methods to understand and explore developments in the new genetics.  In particular, the article uses interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) to understand how psychologists may deal with the interaction of genetics and humans understanding of those interactions.  Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) is used as a qualitative approach- this approach has been used in a number of different fields besides health psychology over the past 20-25  years.  The aim of IPA is simple: participants should make sense of their experiences, including the meaning and context of their experiences (Chapman & Smith, 2002).  It has been suggested that IPA can be used further in the field of health psychology, especially as the discipline looks at various connections between the psychical condition, cognition, and verbal response (Chapman, Smith, 2002).  The authors believe that a useful and productive conversation can take place between the traditionally used quantitatively used methods and that of the IPA.

Main Analysis

The article does a good job of using past and present phenomenological articles, particularly the IPA method, in understanding how it can be used in the context of the health psychology.

The strengths of the IPA method in this article involves giving additional texture to problems that traditionally use quantitative or statistical method to come to conclusions.

For example, in trying to disentangle the causality between what a person’s health habits are, and the potential impact of those habits are, the IPA method allows psychologists to ask probing questions exploring how the individual feels.  At the same time, the IPA method allows the psychologist to ask follow up questions based on existing data that may focus more on an issue not conceptualized in the hypothesis.

With all qualitative methods, the main problems with the article’s conclusions deal with sample size and generalizability.  While IPA provides a keen analytical framework to focus on an individual’s thoughts and experiences, there is no benchmark to assess whether these thoughts are wider shared in the same community: Even those individuals with similar experiences may not register in the same way due to different language.  The other problem is a smaller sample size.  That is, although a health psychologist will typically depend on sample size (and the law of big numbers) to understand the findings of a certain study, this is not available with the IPA method.

Conclusion

Overall, the IPA method offers a lot to understand the nexus between patients and their conditions.  The method provides additional texture and understanding that can be fleshed out through a thorough analysis of the patient’s thoughts and experiences on a certain topic.  At the end, however, judgment plays a key role in understanding IPA.  Indeed, due to the lack of sample size and generalizability the results may not apply to the general population.

References:

Chapman, E. & Smith, J.A.  Interpretative phenomenological analysis and new genetics.  Journal of Health Psychology.  2(7), 125-140.

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