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Lecture 4

Measurement (week 4)

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SOCY 210
Vincent F Sacco

Measurement  Careful observations of the real world  Purpose of describing objects and events in terms of their attributes  Describing attributes that make up a variable o Most variables are created  Variables do not exist in nature  They are terms we have made up that have specific meanings or purpose Concepts, Conceptions  Concepts o Mental images of what we perceive something to be  Eg. Being racist, hating women and homosexuals are all terms  These terms all have something in common and are categorized as a concept  Conceptualization o The process of finding what terms have in common and categorizing them o Coming to an agreement about what terms mean  Result is an overall concept o Making direct and indirect observations come together in a construct o Specifying what we mean when we use a particular term in a research project  To specify exact meaning, you must describe indicators  Indicators measure the concept  Indicators  The presence or absence of the concept being studied  Dimensions  Different aspects of the concept o Reification  Process of regarding things that are not real as real Concepts as constructs  3 Classes of things scientists measure o Direct Observables  What we observe directly  Eg. Colour of an apple o Indirect Observables  What we do not observe directly  Eg. Observing someone’s gender from reading a questionnaire o Constructs  Theoretical creations based on observations  Cannot be observed directly  Eg. IQ tests  Help us organize, communicate, and understand things that real  Concept is something we create o Eg. Prejudice, compassion  Created based on our conceptions of them and based on what others believe  Created by mutual agreements about mental images (conceptions)  Conceptions summarize a collection of observations and experiences  Social researchers focus on the meanings of the words and actions created for the people under study o There is ambiguity with mental images and creating concepts  Dimension o Aspect of a concept  Feelings vs. actions that make up compassion  Two different aspects of compassion that can still be considered valid o Complete conceptualization involves  Specifying dimensions of a concept  Specifying various indicators for each Nominal and Operational Definitions  Nominal o Simply assigned to a term without any claim that the definition is “real”  Operational Definition o Specifies precisely how a concept will be measured o Listing all the operations that will be performed o Maximum clarity of what a concept means in a given study  Specification  The process by which concepts are made more specific Creating conceptual order  Clarification on concepts is key in data collection  Operationalization results in a commitment to specific questionnaire items that represent the concept under study o Without commitment, the study would not work  Nominal definitions do not allow us to observe o Merely focuses observational strategy o We must specify exactly what we want to observe  How we will do it  What interpretations will we put on different observations  These are all part of operationalization o If someone were to disagree with your definition, the person would still know how to interpret the results because what we meant was precise and clear  Order can also be found with the utility of a particular conceptualization o The more it is used, the likely hood of someone else to adopt it o Leads to standardized definitions of concepts o (how useful a concept is determines the likelihood of it being used again)  1. Conceptualization  2. Nominal Definition  3. Operational Definition  4. Measurements in the real world Definitions Used in Descriptive and Explanatory Studies  Definitions are more problematic for descriptive research than explanatory research  Changing definitions result in different conclusions Operationalization Choices  Conceptualization o Refinement and specification of abstract concepts  Operationalization o Development of specific research procedures o Results in empirical observations that represent
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