Psychology Research Methods

What You Can Do: Boolean Operators?

From the Assignment

On to other searches.  

  • Let’s find empirical studies in peer-reviewed journals on the topic of the influence of television on aggression in children.  
  • You can choose any of those terms and type them in.  Begin with aggression.  As of the date I am typing this assignment, you should get over 44,000 hits.  
  • Look them over.  Some are books, some dissertations, some chapters in books.  We want articles in Peer Reviewed Academic Journals.  Find those options in the left sidebar under “Limit To,” and “Source Types.”  Select them.  Today you would have eliminated 11,000 items from the list of results.
  • Let’s limit it further.  Try typing in the two other terms (children, television) next to television in the top search box as well and see what you get.  How many hits did you get?  Zero!  It is because the search engine looked for the exact phrase you typed (aggression children television).  

Demo Video

Video Demo

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Note that PsycInfo is not like Google It does not default to searching for all of the terms you have listed, but treats words without special connectors (Boolean operators) as phrases—like putting quotation marks around it on Google.  So, in order to get the equivalent of the Google search that television aggression children would provide, you have to type in television AND aggression AND children in PsycInfo. 

Understanding Booleans

  • Note that “Boolean/phrase” is the default.  You can select operators (and, or, not) in between terms by using the three different boxes.  You can also add Boolean operators by typing it in between words in a single box.   So, now use AND in between each search term, television AND aggression AND children, either by using different boxes or typing in AND in one box.  Be sure you still have Peer Reviewed and Academic Journals selected.
    • Now how many hits? Write it on your answer sheet.
  • We are in business—almost.  Continue to limit your results by looking only for empirical studies.  Click on Advanced Search.  
  • Make sure that Peer Reviewed is selected. Scroll down to Methodology on the right and select EMPIRICAL STUDY (illustration on next page). Then click on the Search box below and to the left.  When you get results, you will notice that Options Set is checked under results 
    • So, how many empirical articles have you found on the topic of aggression AND children AND television in peer-reviewed journals?