Lesson Idea: Understanding Self-selected Sampling

Travis DixonResearch Methodology

Self-selected/volunteer sampling is a common sampling method used in psychological research because it has many practical advantages, like saving the researchers time and effort.

This activity and lots of others are included in the student workbook in the Teacher Support Pack for Chapter 6: Quantitative Methods. 

  • Read the aims of the following proposed experiments. Some researchers want to carry out these studies but their problem is they don’t have any participants yet. Working with a partner, come up with some ideas on how they could find participants using a self-selected sampling method. You’ve been given the target population so your job is to devise a way to get a sample from that target population. The first has been done as an example.
  • The lesson on page 323-333 of the textbook will help you with this.

1. MAOA Gene and Crime

  1. Aim: to see if there is a correlation between violent crime and the MAOA gene.
  2. Target Population: violent criminals.
  3. Sampling Procedure: contact the heads of a bunch of prisons and get them to get names of inmates that want to volunteer for the study.

2. IB Students and Stress

  1. Aim: to study correlations between the IB and student stress.
  2. Target Population: IB students                                                                             
  3. Sampling Procedure:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

3. Mental Health and Physical Exercise

  1. Aim: to see if joining a gym has a positive effect on mental health.
  2. Target Population: People who have just joined a gym                                
  3. Sampling Procedure:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

4. Parenting Attitudes and Socioeconomic Status

  1. Aim: study correlations between parenting styles and socioeconomic status.
  2. Target Population: Parents who have just had a baby                             
  3. Sampling Procedure:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

5. Social Media Use and Anxiety in Teens

  1. Aim: to study correlations between the use of Facebook and anxiety in teenagers.
  2. Target Population: Teenagers who use Facebook                                                    
  3. Sampling Procedure:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

In a random or opportunity sample, it is the researchers who approach the participants. The key characteristic of a self-selected sample is that it is the participants who approach the researchers to volunteer to be in the study. Of course, this requires the researchers to do some sort of advertising to make people aware of the study in the first place.