What is a Case Study Method?
A case study is an in-depth analysis of a person, group, event, or community. In studies, data are collected from various sources like personal interviews, direct observations, psychometric tests, and historical records to find the causes of one’s behaviour.
Case study research methods are often used in clinical medicine to analyze patients’ personal and medical histories.
In psychology, case studies are restricted to the study of a particular individual, his biography, past life, and the current events that are presently happening in one’s day-to-day life.
Case studies offer a systematic approach towards finding events, collecting data, analyzing information, and communicating the results.
Case studies and case methods are often mistaken as the same, but they are not; case methods are research methods used to collect data and analysis that will further generate information needed for case studies.
Strengths of Case Study Method:
case studies can be proved very useful at times. A case study offers a qualitative way of learning about a case through extensive description and contextual analysis.
One of the significant advantages of the case study in psychology is that it helps develop novel hypotheses for later testing.
Some of the other advantages of the case study method are:
- Provides a detailed description of rare and specific cases.
- Provides an opportunity for innovation
- Allow researchers to collect rich qualitative information.
- Allow researchers to challenge theoretical assumptions.
Case studies provide far more detailed information on the rare or hard to study cases and the information concerning measurable or quantitative insights of the case and the detailed information related to the qualitative aspects of human behavior.
Case studies offer in-depth analysis and a multi-sided approach that studies even those aspects of human thinking that is impractical or unethical.
Limitations of case study method:
Following are the disadvantages of the case study method:
- hard to determine cause and effect relationships
- can be possible biased at times
- time-consuming and expensive
- hard to generalize to the large population
- difficult to recreate
How is the case study conducted?
In the case studies, the data and information are collected through personal interviews, direct observations, psychometric tests, and historical records.
The researchers interview the subject of the case, his friends, parents, employer, workmates, and others who know him better and can state reliable facts about him.
The information collected through interviews involves comments from the person’s friends, parents, employer, workmates, etc.
Apart from the interviews, the case study method also involves simple observations concerning what is happening in the subject’s everyday life. It is a prospective method of the case study which means observing an individual for an extended period to study the developments of a particular disease as they happen.
Another method is a retrospective method which involves looking at the historical records of the subject of the case. It means going through the past background of the individual’s life to analyze the factors that have lead to the cause of the particular disease or illness.
The information collected through the case study method is more qualitative, i.e., based on the verbal description of one’s behavior.
After collecting all the data, you can analyze the following information through various techniques and theories like grounded theory, interpretative phenomenological analysis, text interpretation, etc. And then interpret the data and decide what is essential or what is not, and then conclude.
Case study examples
- Genie was a young girl subjected to horrific abuse and isolation. The case study of Genie allowed researchers to study whether language could be taught even after critical periods for language development had been missed. Her case also served as an example of how scientific research may interfere with treatment and lead to further abuse of vulnerable individuals.
- One of the most famous case studies in psychology is that of Chris Sizemore. She was one of the first people diagnosed with multiple personality disorder, now called dissociative identity disorder. In her case, the “alter” personalities were all merged into one character over which she had control. She did, however, remember specific events in her life as happening to particular characters. Her case, diagnosis, and treatment informed treating this mental disorder in a variety of topics over the years, and it was even turned into a movie, Eve
- Anna O. was the pseudonym given to a German woman who was one of the first to undergo psychoanalysis. Her case inspired many of the theories of Freud and other prominent psychologists of the time. It was determined that Anna’s symptoms of depression and illness were eliminated through talk therapy. More recently, it has been suggested that Anna O. had another condition, such as epilepsy, from which she may have recovered during the therapy period. This case study is still cited as a reason psychologists believe that psychotherapy, or talk therapy, can be helpful to many patients.