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COM2103 Quantitative Communication Research Methods

The Basics of Social Research, 4th Ed.

Earl Babbie 2007

Chapter 1

Human Inquiry and Science

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Key Terms

Alphabetical List: · attribute · deduction · dependent variable · idiographic · independent variable · induction · nomothetic · replication · theory · variable

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Structured List: · variable vs. attribute

variable

independent dependent

pair of nested concepts

Chapter Outline

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attribute

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idiographic vs. nomothetic induction vs. deduction theory replication

pair of opposing concepts

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Looking for Reality The Foundations of Social Science Some Dialectics of Social Research

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How We Know What We Know

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Other Ways of Knowing

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Most of what you know is a matter of believing what you've been told. The basis of knowledge is agreement.

Direct experience and observation Personal inquiry Tradition Authority

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COM2103 Quantitative Communication Research Methods

Looking for Reality

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Ordinary Human Inquiry

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Scientists have criteria that must be met before they accept the reality of something they haven't experienced. Epistemology is the science of knowing. Methodology is the science of finding out.

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Humans aim to answer "what" and "why" questions. Humans recognize that future circumstances are caused by present ones. They learn that patterns of cause and effect are probabilistic in nature: · The effects occur more often when the causes occur.

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Second Hand Knowledge

Two important sources: · Tradition - By accepting what everybody knows, we avoid starting from scratch in our search for understanding · Authority - Discoveries and understandings produced by others.

Inquiry: Errors and Solutions

1. Inaccurate observations · Measurement devices add precision. 2. Overgeneralization · Replication - Repeat a study to make sure the same results are produced each time.

3. Selective observation · Make an effort to find cases that do not fit the general pattern. 4. Illogical Reasoning · Use systems of logic explicitly.

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Views of Reality

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What Does a Book Look Like?

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Premodern - Things are as they seem. Modern - Acknowledgment of human subjectivity. Postmodern -There is no objective reality to observe.

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COM2103 Quantitative Communication Research Methods

Wife's View of the Dispute

Husband's View of the Dispute

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Foundations of Social Science

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Theory

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A scientific understanding of the world must make sense and correspond with what we observe. Both are essential and relate to three major aspects of the overall scientific enterprise: theory, data collection, and data analysis.

Systematic explanation for the observations that relate to a particular aspect of life.

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What's in a Theory?

What's Involved in Data Collection?

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COM2103 Quantitative Communication Research Methods

What's Involved in Data Analysis?

Social Regularities

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Represent probabilistic patterns. A general pattern does not need to be reflected in 100% of observable cases. Examples of patterns in social life: · Only people 18 and older can vote. · Only people with a license can drive.

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Aggregates

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The collective actions and situations of many individuals. Focus of social science is to explain why aggregated patterns of behavior are regular even when individuals change over time.

Highly stable trend emerged once we look at the population as a whole (an aggregate) instead of individuals.

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Variables and Attributes

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Concept->Variable->Attributes

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Variable · Logical groupings of attributes. Attribute · Characteristics or qualities that describe an object.

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COM2103 Quantitative Communication Research Methods

Independent Variable

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Dependent Variable

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An independent variable is presumed to cause or determine a dependent variable. If religiosity is a function of gender-- women are more religious than are men-- gender is an independent variable and religiosity is a dependent variable.

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A variable assumed to depend on or be caused by the independent variable. If you find that income is partly a function of amount of formal education, income is being treated as a dependent variable.

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Relationship between Two Variables (Education vs. Prejudice)

Another Way Looking at the Bivariate Relationship

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Purposes of Social Research

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Idiographic Explanation

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Mapping out a topic that may warrant further study later · Looking into a new political group. Describing the state of social affairs: · What is the unemployment rate? Providing reasons for phenomena, in terms of causal relationships: · Why do some cities have higher unemployment rates than others?

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An approach in which we seek to exhaust the idiosyncratic causes of a particular condition or event. · Imagine trying to list all the reasons you chose to attend your particular college. · Given all those reasons, it's difficult to imagine making any other choice.

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COM2103 Quantitative Communication Research Methods

Nomothetic Explanation

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Idiographic and Nomothetic Reasoning in Everyday Life

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An approach to explanation in which we seek to identify a few causal factors that impact a class of conditions or events. · Imagine the two or three key factors that determine which colleges students choose, such as proximity, reputation, and so forth.

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Idiographic · "He's like that because his father and mother kept giving him mixed signals. His older brother is exactly the same and probably served as a role model." Nomothetic · "Teenage boys are like that."

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Inductive Reasoning

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Deductive Reasoning

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The logical model in which general principles are developed from specific observations. · Having noted that Jews and Catholics are more likely to vote Democratic than are Protestants, you might conclude that religious minorities in the United States are more affiliated with the Democratic party, and then your task is to explain why.

The logical model in which specific expectations of hypotheses are developed on the basis of general principles. · Starting from the principle that all deans are mean, you might anticipate that this one won't let you change courses. · This anticipation would be the result of deduction.

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Qualitative & Quantitative Analysis

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Pure and Applied Research

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Qualitative Data - Nonnumerical data. Quantitative Data - Numerical data. · Makes observations more explicit and makes it easier to aggregate, compare, and summarize data.

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Pure Research - Sometimes justified in terms of gaining "knowledge for knowledge's sake." Applied Research - Putting research into practice.

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