construct and variables in research methodology

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  • 1. Understanding theory: Concepts and Connections
  • 2. concepts  A concept is a bundle of meanings or characteristics associated with certain events, objects, conditions, situations, and the like.  If one is to understand and communicate information about objects and events, there must be a common ground on which to do it.  The success of research depends on how clearly we conceptualize and how well others understand the concepts we use.
  • 3. constructs  A construct is an image or idea specifically invented for a given research and/or theory building purpose.  We build constructs by combining the simpler concepts, especially when the idea or image we intend to convey is not directly subject to observation.  For eg. Presentation quality is a construct which is formed by combining concept of typing speed, format accuracy etc.
  • 4. Definitions  There are various types of definitions the most familiar are dictionary definitions. But these are not adequate for research.  Operational definition: is a definition stated in terms of specific testing criteria or operations.  The purpose of operational definition is to provide an understanding and measurement of concepts. Eg. Higher income level: more than Rs.8lakhs Middle income level: between Rs. 3-8 lakhs Lower income level: below Rs. 3 lakhs
  • 5. Variables  In practice the term variable is used as a synonym for construct or the property being studied.  In this context, a variable is a symbol to which numerals or values are assigned.  Some variables are dichotomous have only two values reflecting the presence or absence of a property. For eg. Employed- unemployed, male-female etc. have two values generally 0and 1.  Some variables are discrete which produce data that fit into categories such as demographic variables of religion. Like for religion : for hindu: 1, for muslim: 2 for christian: 3 . Only certain values are possible for such variables.  Some variables are continuous variables which may take on values within a given range or in some cases, an infinite set. For eg. Income, temperature, age or a test score.
  • 6. Types of variables: on the basis of relationship among variables  Independent variable: presumed cause, stimulus, antecedent.  Dependent variable: presumed effect, response, consequence.  Example: does a participative leadership style ( independent variable) influence job satisfaction ( dependent variable)?
  • 7. Types of variables contd.  Moderating variables: It is a second independent variable that is included because it is believed to have a significant contributory or contingent effect on the originally stated IV-DV relationship. Example: the introduction of the 4 day workweek (IV) will lead to higher productivity (DV), especially among workers (MV).
  • 8. Extraneous variables  Lots of extraneous variables (EV) exists that might be ignored or have little effect. Example : in routine office work (EV) the introduction of 4 day workweek (IV) will lead to higher productivity (DV) especially among younger workers (MV).
  • 9. Proposition and Hypothesis  A proposition is defined as a statement about concepts that may be judged as true or false if it refers to observable phenomena.  When a proposition is formulated for empirical testing, we call it a hypothesis.  Hypothesis is a statement in which we assign variables to cases.  Example: an increase in family income leads to an increase in the percentage of income saved.
  • 10. The role of the hypothesis  It guides the direction of the study.  It limits what shall be studied and what shall not.  It identifies facts that are relevant and those that are not, in so doing, it suggests which form of research design is likely to be most appropriate.
  • 11. Example  Suppose there is a hypothesis:  Husbands and wives agree in their perceptions of their respective roles in purchase decisions.  This hypothesis specifies who shall be studied( married couple), in what context they shall be studied (their consumer decision making), and what shall be studied (their individual perceptions of their roles).  On this basis we can easily find out that best research design in this case is probably a survey or an interview. Also it is clear that we require information regarding their purchase decision not about the other role husband and wife might play.
  • 12. What is a good hypothesis?  It should be adequate for its purpose.  It must be testable.  It must be better than its rivals.