this is my first blog in this semester and I apologise if it is a little bit boring :) Hopefully, you will at least find it informative. Have fun reading, xox
In order to see the differences between a case study and a single case study, we need to first understand what these two designs are and what is involved in them.
Case study is a detailed and intensive study of one person, group, event or community. According to Stake (1995), case study research is concerned with the complexity and particular nature of the case in question. A lot of best-known researchers in psychology and in other areas such as sociology used case studies to investigate different aspects of human nature. For example, most of Freud’s work and theories were developed using this particular design. He conducted very detailed investigations into his patients’ lives in order to understand and help them to overcome their disorders. Most famous case studies of Freud are Little Hans and The Rat Man. In psychology, case studies are often studies of single individual and the information presented in it is mostly biographical. In order to produce such a case study of one person, various techniques may be used. The most common one is an interview, which involves talking to the person of interest as well as to their friends, relatives, employers and others who have a good knowledge of them. other sources of information for a case study are documents, archival records, direct observation and participant observation. So, in a few words case studies provide detailed and rich information, they help researchers to generate new ideas and permit investigation of otherwise impractical/unethical situations.
Single case design or single-subject design is a design that relies on comparison of treatment effects on a single subject or group of single subjects.(http://allpsych.com/researchmethods/singlesubjectdesign.html) Single-subject design are thought to be a direct result of Skinner’s research. This design is sensitive to individual differences. It often involves using large number of participants in a study, however – individuals in the study serve as their own control and therefore the design is called single-subject. Single-subject design has a number of requirements such continuous assessment, baseline assessment and variability in the data. Single-subject designs are quite popular because they are very flexible and highlight individual differences in response to treatment/intervention. Single subject research design is most often used in applied fields of psychology and education.
As you can see, there are a number of obvious differences between a case study and single case design. For one, a case study focuses on one individual whereas single case design studies usually focus on a number of people. For two, case studies look at the history of a person, whereas single-subject design looks at the effects of treatment in one person and then compares it to others. However, the most important thing to be mentioned is that single-subject designs improve on case studies and therefore they are, in my opinion, a more extensive source of knowledge.
References: Mcleod, S. A. (2008). Simply Psychology; . Retrieved 3 February 2012, from http://www.simplypsychology.org/case-study.html
Social research methods by Alan Bryman – 2nd edition.