case study method in psychology

Case Study Method In Psychology: Meaning, Pros, and Cons

What is Case Study Method?

The case study method is the in-depth study of any event, person, or problem in a given situation. It strives to get out the root causes of a given spot. Also, referred to as case history or clinical method.

The case study is one of the oldest research methods used particularly to reveal depths for the diagnosis and treatment of behavior disorders in psychology. The psychologist Sigmund Freud, constructed his theory of personality from case studies. Jean Piaget, the most influential observer of children formulated many cognitive theories on children from case studies.

The case study involves making observations for a particular period of time to find the cause and development of a particular behavior pattern. The case record includes information on family background, home life, neighborhood activities, experience at school, health, past life, and so on.

This method is based on the idea that the more we know about individuals, the better we will be able to understand and help them. While using case study the investor uses, tests, checklists, questionnaires, interviews, etc. It can be done at home, school, or work situations.

For example, A child who is problematic at school may be referred to a guidance clinic, where a detailed case history is compiled using all the possible diagnostic testing with personality inventories, intelligence test, psychoanalytic procedures, etc. so that it will be helpful in understanding the child’s problems to provide him with a remedial plan.

The case study method may also be based on a longitudinal study. A longitudinal study follows a study over an extended period of time, with the measurement at periodic intervals. The researchers have to choose one that suits them the best while doing research.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Case Study Method

Advantages:

  • It is very beneficial to know about the social behavioral pattern of the individual in-depth. It provides the perception of inner strivings, tensions, and motivations into one’s life directly.
  • It enables the researchers to trace out the relationship of an individual’s inner self with social forces and surroundings for careful historical analysis of the past life.
  • The case study method is quite useful for diagnosis, therapy, and other practical case problems.

Disadvantages/Limitations

  • In the case of history, the information usually comes from parents, teachers, and other associations of the individual being studied, the subjectivity of the researcher may hamper the report that is needed.
  • The danger of false generalizations is always there because no set of rules are followed in the collection of the information and only a few units are studied.
  • It consumes more time, effort, and money to go through studying the behavior.
  • The case study method can be used in a limited sphere, it is not possible to use for a big number.

Despite its limitations, the case study method is a widely used systematic field research technique in social sciences these days. A wide range of private experiences, informal factors, and personal feelings can not experiment directly. In such cases, the case history method proves to be a valuable technique. It proves more useful in the diagnosis and treatment of problem children, neurotics, socially and emotionally maladjusted persons, delinquents, criminals, etc.

Child psychology uses this method to study juvenile delinquency. Similarly, anthropologists, historians, management technicians, novelists, etc. also have used this method extensively. Its use is increasing day by day.

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