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Coding Frame Psychology

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Coding Frame Psychology

Qualitative data can sometimes be difficult to analyse. Using coding frames, an analysis technique can make the task easier. Coding frames are essentially a systematic technique used to convert data from qualitative to quantitative. They allow you to observe specific behaviours and then categorise them with ‘codes’ and/or abbreviations.

This article will further examine the importance of coding frames in psychology.

Coding Frames Coding symbols of behaviours StudySmarterCoding symbols of behaviours, Flaticon

Coding frame psychology definition

In psychology, the definition of the coding frame is a method of analysis used to convert qualitative visual or auditory data into quantitative numerical data.

The coding frame is used in psychological research to analyse data collected using qualitative methods, such as unstructured interviews or observations. These can then be analysed using content analysis.

Content analysis is a data analysis method that determines how often certain words, themes, or concepts appear in qualitative data.

The content analysis uses coding frames to complete the analysis. Typically, a researcher identifies specific behaviours, phrases, or words to look for in advance.They then use abbreviations or ‘codes’ to record the behaviours and may even code for subtypes within that behaviour to indicate severity.

For example, if a researcher observes combative behaviour, such as hitting, they may code it as follows:

Uppercut UC

Then they can go further and indicate the strength or severity of the uppercut (UC).

UC UC1, UC2, UC3...

The coding frames importance in psychology

For research to be considered reliable and valid, researchers must be trained in the use of coding frameworks. Researchers may be trained through standardised instructions to ensure that analysts use the same methods and techniques to improve the reliability of the research.In addition, other researchers/reviewers can use these instructions to replicate the study and determine if the research is reliable. In addition, the variables being assessed must be operationalised, which will increase the validity of the study.

Operationalised variables refer to a variable that has been clearly defined. In research, variables must be operationalised, meaning researchers must specify what the variable is and how they intend to measure it.

The coding framework is important in psychological research:

  • It allows researchers to quantify qualitative data, which makes it easier to compare results with previous findings, and it also makes it easier to conclude.

  • It helps researchers identify themes, patterns, and trends in the data.

  • Provides researchers with a framework to guide analysis. Identifying themes and compiling them gives researchers a framework to use in the future.

Coding frame example

For simplicity, here is another research scenario of an interview excerpt between the interviewer and a young child who was bullied at school. The research purpose was to find out how bullying victimisation affects children.

An example transcript is:

Interviewer: What do you do during playtime at school?

Interviewee: When I am at school, I try to avoid the bad kids. Um. When the other kids are playing, I sit on the bench and watch them.

Interviewer: When you see the other kids playing, do you want to play with them?

Interviewee: Yes, but sometimes they tease me when I try to play with them.

Interviewer: How does this make you feel?

Interviewee: Um, sometimes sad and maybe [pause] scared.

The example of the coding frame for this research scenario shows how the researcher transforms the qualitative data into quantitative data.

Using the example transcript, the researcher can identify two main themes used for analysis. These are:

  • Avoidance behaviour

  • Negative emotions.

These themes are referred to as behavioural categories.

The next step is to determine how frequently these themes appear in the transcript:

  • Avoidance behaviour: twice (‘I stay away from the bad kids’ and ‘[...] I sit and watch them’). The researcher can infer avoidance behaviour if the child chooses not to play with the other children.

  • Negative emotions: two (sad and scared).

The analyst usually counts the frequency of the theme in the data.

Coding Frames examples Tally board StudySmarterTally board, Flaticon

This research scenario explains how coding frames can be used in psychological research to understand phenomena. This coding is used throughout the experiment for all data samples, and future research attempting to replicate the study should also attempt to maintain the coding framework used.

The advantages and disadvantages of using coding frames in psychology research

Let us discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using coding frames in psychological research.

Coding frames advantages

The coding frames advantages are:

  • They allow researchers to perform statistical analyses on data that were initially qualitative. This process is beneficial because it is easier to draw conclusions and compare results in relation to qualitative data.

  • They can increase the reliability and validity of the research if the researchers are trained in the use of the coding frames. In addition, coding frames are carefully designed (e.g., behavioural categories are operationalised, improving the reliability and validity of the research).

    • This aspect underscores the importance of the coding framework in psychological research.

  • Researchers can identify specific behaviours that may represent patterns and reveal new information in this area of research, affecting the overall paradigm of the field.

When conducting experimental research, researchers may measure the results of sleep deprivation in students. In doing so, sleep-deprived students may be found to have higher levels of anxiety and depression. However, by using coding frameworks, researchers may find that sleep-deprived students exhibit higher levels of certain symptoms of anxiety and depression for example, high levels of fatigue, more frequent panic attacks.

This demonstrates how coding frames can provide a deeper understanding compared to other research techniques and analysis methods.

Coding frame disadvantages

The disadvantages of coding frames are:

  • When quantifying qualitative data, the researcher more easily misses important data that could contribute to a deeper understanding of the phenomena.

  • The researcher’s bias may influence the analysis. The researcher may subconsciously select certain data in the coding frame that may influence the study results, thus affecting the validity of the results. However, in standard psychological research, multiple researchers usually review the analysis, and the analyses of each researcher are usually compared.

If researchers report similar analyses, it is reasonable to assume that the coding frameworks have high internal reliability. That is, the coding framework consistently identifies topics of research interest.

  • Analysis can be time-consuming. Observing and analysing each behaviour to determine if it fits the predetermined codes requires a great deal of time and discipline.


Coding Frames - Key takeaways

  • The definition of the coding framework in psychology is a method of analysis used to convert qualitative visual or auditory data into quantitative numerical data.
  • The coding frame used in psychological research is typically used to analyse data collected through qualitative methods such as unstructured interviews or observations. These can then be analysed using content analysis. The content analysis uses coding frames to complete the analysis.
  • The coding frame is important in psychological research because it allows researchers to quantify qualitative data, making it easier to compare results with previous findings. It makes it easier to conclude and helps researchers identify themes, patterns, and trends in the data. It also provides researchers with a framework to assist them in their analysis.
  • Identifying themes and compiling them gives researchers a framework to use.
  • The benefits of the coding framework are that it allows researchers to perform statistical analysis on originally qualitative data. This makes it easier to draw conclusions and compare the results to the qualitative data. It can increase the reliability and validity of research findings, and researchers can identify specific behaviours.
  • The disadvantages of the coding framework are that when quantifying qualitative data, researchers can more easily miss important data that could contribute to a deeper understanding of the phenomena.
  • Researcher bias can influence the analysis, and the analysis can be time-consuming.

Frequently Asked Questions about Coding Frame Psychology

In psychology, the definition of the coding frame is a method of analysis used to convert qualitative visual or auditory data into quantitative numerical data.

An example of how coding frames may be used in psychology research is when conducting an interview (qualitative data collection method). The researcher will transcribe the interview. They will then analyse the data using content analysis, which relies on coding frames. 

The coding frame’s importance in psychology research is that it allows researchers to quantify qualitative data, making it easier to compare the results to previous findings. It makes it easier to make inferences. It helps researchers easily identify themes, patterns and trends in data, and it provides a framework for researchers to use to guide analysis. By identifying themes and tallying these, it gives a framework for researchers to use

The disadvantages of the coding framework are that when quantifying qualitative data, researchers can more easily miss important data that could contribute to a deeper understanding of the phenomena. Researcher bias can also influence the analysis, and the analysis can be time-consuming.

Coding frames in psychology research work by the researcher identifying behavioural schedules (themes) in the data. The researcher may then tally how frequent each behavioural schedule is observed.

Final Coding Frame Psychology Quiz

Question

What type of data do coding frames analyse? 

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Answer

Qualitative data

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Question

What type of data does coding frames output? 

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Answer

Qualitative data

Show question

Question

What is the definition of coding frames? 

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Answer

In psychology, the definition of the coding frame is a method of analysis used to convert qualitative visual or auditory data into quantitative numerical data.

Show question

Question

What is needed of coding frames to improve the reliability and validity of research? 

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Answer

Coding frames can be used to increase the reliability and validity of the research by: 

  • Training researchers on how to use the coding frames
  • Variables/behavioural schedules need to be operationalised.

Show question

Question

What is the importance of using coding frame? 

Show answer

Answer

The coding frame’s importance in psychology research is that it allows researchers to quantify qualitative data, making it easier to compare the results to previous findings. It makes it easier to make inferences. It helps researchers easily identify themes, patterns and trends in data, and it provides a framework for researchers to use to guide analysis. By identifying themes and tallying these, it gives a framework for researchers to use

Show question

Question

What are the coding frames advantages?

Show answer

Answer

The benefits of the coding framework are that it allows researchers to perform statistical analysis on originally qualitative data. This makes it easier to draw conclusions and compare the results to the qualitative data. It can increase the reliability and validity of research findings, and researchers can identify specific behaviours.

Show question

Question

What are some disadvantages of the coding frame? 

Show answer

Answer

The disadvantages of the coding framework are that when quantifying qualitative data, researchers can more easily miss important data that could contribute to a deeper understanding of the phenomena.


Researcher bias can also influence the analysis, and the analysis can be time-consuming.

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Question

What are behavioural categories? 

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Answer

Behavioural categories are themes that researchers identify in data.

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Question

What type of analysis uses coding frames? 

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Answer

Content analysis 

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Question

What is an example of a coding frame in psychology?

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Answer

When conducting an interview, a researcher may categorise any references to certain behaviours or feelings towards activities as a code.


For example, avoidance – avoidance of social activities in a playground setting.

Show question

Question

What type of abbreviations may be used in coding frames?

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Answer

An example can be seen in fighting behaviours. When watching a punch, a researcher may code a particular version as:

Uppercut – UC.

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