Methods of Social Science     John Bradford, Ph.D.
Three Simple Steps to Social Science               (easier said than done)STEP 1: Select some concepts of interest   (vari...
Research MethodsTable 2.1 Summary of Research MethodsMethod              Focus         Question Answered1. Observational  ...
I. Observational Method• What is it? Observing people and carefully  recording measurements of their behavior.• This inclu...
II. Correlational Analysis• What is it? Two variables are systematically  measured, and the relationship between them  is ...
II. Correlational AnalysisWARNING:  Correlation does not prove causation!
Directionality• Variables that vary in the same  direction have a positive  relationship.• Variables that vary in the  opp...
Directionality• Example: a decrease in  employment is associated with  a decrease in income:  – Even though both variables...
Variables:   Independent (X) vs Dependent (Y)• Independent variable (X) = the cause.  Variable that influences.• Dependent...
III. Experiment•   An experiment involves manipulating the    independent variable (X) and observing the effect on    the ...
III. Experiment• Imagine a scientist testing the  effect that some drug, X, has on  growth of rats, Y.• To see how the dru...
III. Experiment• One assumes separation or isolation  between the setting where X is  applied and the control, where X isn...
III. Experiment• Random Assignment to condition-  is the process whereby all  participants have an equal chance  of taking...
III. Experiment• A counter-factual refers to something  that did not happen, but could have or  would have occurred.• We u...
III. Experiment             5 Rules for Doing True Experiments1.   Have at least two groups (control and experiment)2.   R...
Sampling• A Sample is a portion of the larger population  that you will study to make inferences about  the larger populat...
External and Internal Validity• Internal Validity = making sure that nothing  besides the independent variable can affect ...
Concepts you need to know      (Not in your book)
Feedback• Feedback Loop: occurs when changes  generate effects that then influence the  original causes of the change, mak...
FeedbackTwo types of Feedback:                                        Positive Feedback1. Positive (reinforcing, amplifyin...
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Bradford social psych short chapter 2 methods

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  • Comparisons are made with the assumption that events in the test condition have not affected events in settings where the test condition is absent.
  • Comparisons are made with the assumption that events in the test condition have not affected events in settings where the test condition is absent.
  • A “fact” is something that does exist or did happen. Therefore a counter-fact is something that does not exist or did not actually happen.
  • Feedback occurs when the output of a system is also an input to that same system so that a change in a condition in one part of the system creates results elsewhere in the system that in turn change the original conditions.  Some examples of feedback concepts in the social sciences include vicious circles, self-fulfilling prophecies, homeostatic processes, and invisible hands  (Richardson 1991). Feedback implies circular, or reciprocal causal relations, where A influences B, and B in turn influences A, and so on. Note: the term “cybernetic” refers to goal-oriented or purpose driven systems. This includes all living organisms, and many non-living systems such as thermostats and heat-seeking missiles. These systems use negative feedback in the sense that they vary their output (behavior) so that the difference between their sensory inputs (perceptions) and their goals (‘reference standards’) is minimized.
  • Bradford social psych short chapter 2 methods

    1. 1. Methods of Social Science John Bradford, Ph.D.
    2. 2. Three Simple Steps to Social Science (easier said than done)STEP 1: Select some concepts of interest (variables)STEP 2: Posit (suggest) some relationship between these concepts (Hypothesis)STEP 3: Test these suggestions empirically to see if they are right.
    3. 3. Research MethodsTable 2.1 Summary of Research MethodsMethod Focus Question Answered1. Observational Description What is the nature of the phenomenon?2. Correlational Prediction From knowing X, can we predict Y?3. Experimental Causality Is variable X a cause of variable Y?
    4. 4. I. Observational Method• What is it? Observing people and carefully recording measurements of their behavior.• This includes: – Ethnography: method of attempting to understand a group from the inside (i.e. from their point of view) – Archival Analysis: observing the accumulated archives (documents) of a culture.
    5. 5. II. Correlational Analysis• What is it? Two variables are systematically measured, and the relationship between them is assessed.• Correlation coefficient is a statistic that tells you the strength and direction of a relationship.• Surveys: research in which a representative sample of people are asked questions about their attitudes or behavior.
    6. 6. II. Correlational AnalysisWARNING: Correlation does not prove causation!
    7. 7. Directionality• Variables that vary in the same direction have a positive relationship.• Variables that vary in the opposite direction have a negative relationship.
    8. 8. Directionality• Example: a decrease in employment is associated with a decrease in income: – Even though both variables go down, they vary in the same direction. This is a positive relationship! (-1 * -1 = + 1)
    9. 9. Variables: Independent (X) vs Dependent (Y)• Independent variable (X) = the cause. Variable that influences.• Dependent variable (Y) = the effect. Variable that is influenced by the cause; it is dependent on the cause.• INCA: the INdependent variable is the CAuse.
    10. 10. III. Experiment• An experiment involves manipulating the independent variable (X) and observing the effect on the dependent variable (Y)• Experiments are the only means by which we can explore causal relationships; only way we can know for sure if changes to X cause changes in Y.• Experimenter needs two dependent variable (Y) groups of Y: 1. Experimental group- receives ‘treatment’ of independent variable (X) 2. Control group- does not receive treatment; is left alone.
    11. 11. III. Experiment• Imagine a scientist testing the effect that some drug, X, has on growth of rats, Y.• To see how the drug effects rat growth, the experimenter will compare growth in two groups of rats: Y₁ , the group of rats that gets the drug (X) and a group of rates Y₂ that will not.• Y₁ is the experimental group, and Y₂ is the control group.
    12. 12. III. Experiment• One assumes separation or isolation between the setting where X is applied and the control, where X isn’t applied.• It is important that rats which receive the drug and rats which do not be alike in all relevant characteristics and conditions, so that any observed differences between rats which receive the drug (the experimental group) and those that do not (the control group) can be attributed only to the drug (X), and not to something else.
    13. 13. III. Experiment• Random Assignment to condition- is the process whereby all participants have an equal chance of taking part in any condition of the experiment.• The purpose is to ensure that any potentially relevant differences between the experimental and control groups are distributed evenly and therefore won’t affect the outcome (i.e. will cancel each other out)
    14. 14. III. Experiment• A counter-factual refers to something that did not happen, but could have or would have occurred.• We use the ‘control group’ to make a counterfactual argument, which says that: “in the absence of X, this is how Y₁ would have behaved.” We assume that Y₁ would have behaved like Y₂, the control.• Why? Because they are alike in all relevant characteristics so any difference we observe must be a result of the independent variable, X.
    15. 15. III. Experiment 5 Rules for Doing True Experiments1. Have at least two groups (control and experiment)2. Randomly assign people to groups3. Treat the experimental group by manipulating the independent variable4. Observe the effect of the treatment on the dependent variable in the experimental group5. Compare the dependent variable differences (the outcome of treatment) in the experimental and control groups
    16. 16. Sampling• A Sample is a portion of the larger population that you will study to make inferences about the larger population.• General rule: the more diverse a population is, the larger the sample needs to be!• Samples should be random: every element in the population has the same probability of being in the sample.
    17. 17. External and Internal Validity• Internal Validity = making sure that nothing besides the independent variable can affect the dependent variable. – Achieved by using Controls and Random assignment to conditions.• External Validity = extent to which the results of a study can be generalized to other situations and to other people.
    18. 18. Concepts you need to know (Not in your book)
    19. 19. Feedback• Feedback Loop: occurs when changes generate effects that then influence the original causes of the change, making subsequent change either more (+) or less (-) likely. Effect Cause
    20. 20. FeedbackTwo types of Feedback: Positive Feedback1. Positive (reinforcing, amplifying): Initial changes become amplified or magnified over time; patterns are Population Births reinforced. + + – Examples: exponential population growth; nuclear explosion; ‘rich getting richer’, etc.2. Negative (counteracting, Negative Feedback balancing): Initial changes are counteracted or Force of balanced out, so that conditions remain Jump up Gravity relatively stable. + - – Examples: homeostasis; a thermostat; “what goes up, must come down”, etc.

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