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Research Methods


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Research Methods

  1. 1. :: 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
  2. 2. Introduction <ul><li>Empathy: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Where does this come from?  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why are some more empathetic than others?  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What makes a person empathetic?  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is it our upbringing?  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Does our family pet have anything to do with it? </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Introduction <ul><li>Regular trips to the local dog park have left us thinking </li></ul><ul><ul><li>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?  </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Introduction <ul><li>Research Question </li></ul><ul><li>“ Do people who own dogs as children have more empathy towards others as adults?” </li></ul>
  5. 5. Introduction <ul><li>Investigate: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>people who own dogs as children show more empathy than people who do not own dogs.  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>if being empathetic toward an animal or pet, specifically a dog, can cause someone to become more empathetic toward a human being.    </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Literature Review <ul><li>Research of Poresky and two studies by Daly & Morton. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Literature Review <ul><li>Poresky Study (1990): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>children’s empathy scores were correlated with their ages & social development </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>empathy in children was positively correlated with empathy for pets. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>children with strong pet bonds had higher scores on empathy toward their peers than young children without pets </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Literature Review <ul><li>Daly & Morton Study (2003): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>137 children, surveyed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>pet ownership and the link between human-animal bond and empathy. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>contrary to predictions, there is no difference in empathy between pet owner and non-owners. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>fine-grained examination revealed: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>differences with respect to the type of animal owned, in the pet owning group. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>higher empathy - dog ownership in relation to other pets. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>correlation cat ownership with lower empathy </li></ul></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Literature Review <ul><li>Daly & Morton Follow-Up Study (2006): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>155 elementary students </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>survey - ownership, preference, attachment, and attitude, in order to further explore connection between human-animal interactions and empathy . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>dogs and cats, and other animals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>children who preferred and owned both cats and dogs were more empathetic than those who preferred cats or dogs exclusively. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>highly attached to their pets were more empathetic than those who were less attached. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>empathy and positive attitude toward pets revealed a significant positive correlation. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>a notable finding: empathy appears to be positively associated with individuals who prefer/own both a dog and cat. </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Methodology - Design <ul><li>Questionnaires </li></ul><ul><ul><li>twenty five questions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>various styles: closed, open and Likert scale. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Example Questions: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Did you own a dog as a child? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>□ Yes </li></ul><ul><li>□ No </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How likely are you to shovel snow for your elderly neighbour? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>□ Very Likely </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>□ Likely </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>□ Not Sure </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>□ Unlikely </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>□ Very Unlikely </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Methodology – Design Questionnaires (cont’d) <ul><li>This method will be effective: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>easy to implement, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>cost effective </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>reach a large sample in a short amount of time. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Limitations: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>only obtain direct answers to the questions asked </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>generally leave no room for explanation or exploration of other topics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>social desirability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Methodology - Design <ul><li>Semi-Structured Interviews </li></ul><ul><ul><li>one-on-one environment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>distraction free conference room </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>audio recorded </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>transcribed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>flexible format </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>encourage conversational style answers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interviewers - interview guide </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>including topics to be covered </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>a strict order not expected </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>introductory type questions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>questions partially dependent on the information they provide in previous questions. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Types of questions may include direct, specifying, structuring and vignettes. </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Methodology – Design S-S Interviews (cont’d) <ul><li>Valuable: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>participants gives detailed responses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>greater understanding of their entire life experiences </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>more personal than other methods </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>participants may be more likely to disclose information that is resistant to observation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Challenges: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>time consuming </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>researcher and participant </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>effects of social desirability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>because empathy is a sensitive topic participants may downplay undesirable feelings. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Example Questions: </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Tell me about your relationship with your dog as a child. </li></ul><ul><li>How do you feel about Canada’s welfare recipients? </li></ul>
  14. 14. Subjects/Participants <ul><li>Questionnaire : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>random sample – reduce potential bias </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>postal codes of South Western Ontario </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1000 questionnaires – mailed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>large enough accounting for non-response </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>representative of the population </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>small enough to be cost effective and manageable </li></ul></ul></ul>
  15. 15. South Western Ontario
  16. 16. Subjects/Participants <ul><li>Interview selection: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>based on a random sample of the questionnaire respondents </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>this will include both dog owners and non-owners. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No definitive sample size </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Theoretical saturation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Our sample will only be representative of South Western Ontario residents </li></ul><ul><li>Findings will only be applicable for the next few years. </li></ul><ul><li>Results cannot be generalized to other parts of the world or to the past and future generations. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Procedures <ul><li>Small Pre-Test </li></ul><ul><ul><li>determines flaws in design </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Questionnaire created and coded </li></ul><ul><li>Mailed out to the sample </li></ul><ul><li>Prepaid postage is included with the questionnaire. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>reduce non-response rates </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Collection of questionnaires for one month following distribution </li></ul><ul><li>Data would be analysed using SPSS. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Procedures (cont’d) <ul><li>A new random sample drawn from the questionnaire respondents. </li></ul><ul><li>Willing participants would take part in the semi structured interview </li></ul><ul><li>One month for interview, flexible with time </li></ul><ul><li>Transcribe throughout interview process </li></ul><ul><ul><li>analyze key components </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Cross check the result through the triangulation method. </li></ul><ul><li>Completion of analysis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>write up an academic report. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>We predict the entire process to take one year to complete but also recognize that additional time may be required. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Results <ul><li>“ Do people who own dogs as children have more empathy towards others as adults?” </li></ul><ul><li>Positive correlation between the two variables. </li></ul><ul><li>Predict: people who did own dogs as children would grow up to be empathetic adults. </li></ul><ul><li>We hope to find a correlation between dog ownership and empathy. </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Discussion <ul><li>We hope that research will impact developmental psychology. </li></ul><ul><li>Potential outcomes : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The positive correlation between owning dogs as children and empathy as adults may encourage parents to own a dog for their young children. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Using dogs in therapy for at-risk children; those involved in criminal offenses. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Anti-bullying plans in schools or community outreach programs. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Creating further research and sparking interest in this field of research. </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Discussion <ul><li>Although we believe our study will be greatly appreciated among scholars </li></ul><ul><li>Limitations and Weaknesses : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Participants may be affected by social desirability when responding to questionnaire and interview questions. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Collecting data is time consuming and will require multiple resources. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Financial constraints and sponsorship. </li></ul></ul>