Research Methods
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Research Methods






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    Research Methods Research Methods Presentation Transcript

    • :: HAPPY TAILS :: A STUDY OF EMPATHY IN CHILDREN AND ADULTS Monday, June 16, 2008 OL/CC 233 Research Project Sarah Atfield Natasha Crompton-Dunn Lauren Hughes Amanda Shine
    • Introduction
      • Empathy:
        • Where does this come from? 
        • Why are some more empathetic than others? 
        • What makes a person empathetic? 
        • Is it our upbringing? 
        • Does our family pet have anything to do with it?
    • Introduction
      • Regular trips to the local dog park have left us thinking
        • Does learning at an early age how to be empathetic toward a family pet, allow us to learn how to become an understanding, compassionate person as an adult? 
    • Introduction
      • Research Question
      • “ Do people who own dogs as children have more empathy towards others as adults?”
    • Introduction
      • Investigate:
        • people who own dogs as children show more empathy than people who do not own dogs. 
        • if being empathetic toward an animal or pet, specifically a dog, can cause someone to become more empathetic toward a human being.   
    • Literature Review
      • Research of Poresky and two studies by Daly & Morton.
    • Literature Review
      • Poresky Study (1990):
        • children’s empathy scores were correlated with their ages & social development
        • empathy in children was positively correlated with empathy for pets.
        • children with strong pet bonds had higher scores on empathy toward their peers than young children without pets
    • Literature Review
      • Daly & Morton Study (2003):
        • 137 children, surveyed
        • pet ownership and the link between human-animal bond and empathy.
        • contrary to predictions, there is no difference in empathy between pet owner and non-owners.
        • fine-grained examination revealed:
          • differences with respect to the type of animal owned, in the pet owning group.
          • higher empathy - dog ownership in relation to other pets.
          • correlation cat ownership with lower empathy
    • Literature Review
      • Daly & Morton Follow-Up Study (2006):
        • 155 elementary students
        • survey - ownership, preference, attachment, and attitude, in order to further explore connection between human-animal interactions and empathy .
        • dogs and cats, and other animals
        • children who preferred and owned both cats and dogs were more empathetic than those who preferred cats or dogs exclusively.
        • highly attached to their pets were more empathetic than those who were less attached.
        • empathy and positive attitude toward pets revealed a significant positive correlation.
        • a notable finding: empathy appears to be positively associated with individuals who prefer/own both a dog and cat.
    • Methodology - Design
      • Questionnaires
        • twenty five questions
        • various styles: closed, open and Likert scale.
        • Example Questions:
        • Did you own a dog as a child?
      • □ Yes
      • □ No
        • How likely are you to shovel snow for your elderly neighbour?
              • □ Very Likely
              • □ Likely
              • □ Not Sure
              • □ Unlikely
              • □ Very Unlikely
    • Methodology – Design Questionnaires (cont’d)
      • This method will be effective:
        • easy to implement,
        • cost effective
        • reach a large sample in a short amount of time.
      • Limitations:
        • only obtain direct answers to the questions asked
        • generally leave no room for explanation or exploration of other topics
        • social desirability
          • participants tend to answer behavioural questions based on how they think they should act or how they would like to act rather than their actual behaviour.
    • Methodology - Design
      • Semi-Structured Interviews
        • one-on-one environment
        • distraction free conference room
        • audio recorded
        • transcribed
        • flexible format
        • encourage conversational style answers
        • Interviewers - interview guide
          • including topics to be covered
          • a strict order not expected
        • introductory type questions
        • questions partially dependent on the information they provide in previous questions.
        • Types of questions may include direct, specifying, structuring and vignettes.
    • Methodology – Design S-S Interviews (cont’d)
      • Valuable:
        • participants gives detailed responses
          • greater understanding of their entire life experiences
        • more personal than other methods
          • participants may be more likely to disclose information that is resistant to observation
      • Challenges:
        • time consuming
          • researcher and participant
        • effects of social desirability
          • because empathy is a sensitive topic participants may downplay undesirable feelings.
        • Example Questions:
      • Tell me about your relationship with your dog as a child.
      • How do you feel about Canada’s welfare recipients?
    • Subjects/Participants
      • Questionnaire :
        • random sample – reduce potential bias
        • postal codes of South Western Ontario
        • 1000 questionnaires – mailed
          • large enough accounting for non-response
          • representative of the population
          • small enough to be cost effective and manageable
    • South Western Ontario
    • Subjects/Participants
      • Interview selection:
        • based on a random sample of the questionnaire respondents
          • this will include both dog owners and non-owners.
        • No definitive sample size
          • Theoretical saturation
      • Our sample will only be representative of South Western Ontario residents
      • Findings will only be applicable for the next few years.
      • Results cannot be generalized to other parts of the world or to the past and future generations.
    • Procedures
      • Small Pre-Test
        • determines flaws in design
      • Questionnaire created and coded
      • Mailed out to the sample
      • Prepaid postage is included with the questionnaire.
        • reduce non-response rates
      • Collection of questionnaires for one month following distribution
      • Data would be analysed using SPSS.
    • Procedures (cont’d)
      • A new random sample drawn from the questionnaire respondents.
      • Willing participants would take part in the semi structured interview
      • One month for interview, flexible with time
      • Transcribe throughout interview process
        • analyze key components
      • Cross check the result through the triangulation method.
      • Completion of analysis
        • write up an academic report.
      • We predict the entire process to take one year to complete but also recognize that additional time may be required.
    • Results
      • “ Do people who own dogs as children have more empathy towards others as adults?”
      • Positive correlation between the two variables.
      • Predict: people who did own dogs as children would grow up to be empathetic adults.
      • We hope to find a correlation between dog ownership and empathy.
      • It is important to note that in qualitative research, correlation does not equal causation because questionnaires and interviews do not account for other influences on empathy.
    • Discussion
      • We hope that research will impact developmental psychology.
      • Potential outcomes :
        • The positive correlation between owning dogs as children and empathy as adults may encourage parents to own a dog for their young children.
        • Using dogs in therapy for at-risk children; those involved in criminal offenses.
        • Anti-bullying plans in schools or community outreach programs.
        • Creating further research and sparking interest in this field of research.
    • Discussion
      • Although we believe our study will be greatly appreciated among scholars
      • Limitations and Weaknesses :
        • Measuring empathy will be difficult because it is a subjective trait. It may be a challenge to find questions and scenarios to rate them and to find a common ground.
        • Participants may be affected by social desirability when responding to questionnaire and interview questions.
        • Collecting data is time consuming and will require multiple resources.
        • Financial constraints and sponsorship.