CRIM 320 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Trait Theory, Mental Image, Operationalization

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Crim 320
Week 2
January 16, 2012
Foundations of Quantitative Research
- Shrink font size to limits of human perception
- Take out excessive details of your methodology
Don’t rely on the researcher to tell you what they found or the results. Think about
whether it was a good measure for drug use, who was interviewed, all those things
that are determined by the researchers
Foundations in quantitative research: work on these four elements for the research
project for this class.
-Theory, concepts and prediction
-Variables and level of measurement
Goals of research
- Description of the phenomenon (who is involved?)
- Exploration (what is going on: contexts, motives of people involved. How
prevalent or frequent is it)
- Explanation (why is something happening? What are the causes and risk
factors of the phenomenon)
- Evaluation (what works, what doesn’t. is it effective, is it working, what is the
impact of what we’re doing in terms of preventing or intervening specific
For example, intimate partner violence (IPV)
- Description
oEstimating the prevalence of IPV and the characteristics of the persons
the goal is to determine the prevalence of victimization
- Exploration
oDetermining the context in which individuals get involved in IPV and the
motivations to do so
i.e. why are men violent against their partner? In what context
does violence typically occur? What type of violence is occurring?
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- Explanation
oExamining the risk factors of IPV
Are there specific characteristics or childhood background
associated with this phenomenon? What will increase the
likelihood of this violence or victimization?
- Evaluation
oEvaluation of treatment programs for individuals involved in IPV
Are they effective to eliminate/prevent/reduce the behaviour?
Within the domain of IPV we could look at aspects like continuity,
seriousness, diversity of acts, who it was committed against over
time and in what type of settings
Study done with D. Farrington published 2 years ago
the study looked at the childhood background of men who were perpetrators of IPV
Explanatory: explain risk factors, prediction of IPV. Whether childhood experiences
and characteristics were indicative of men becoming abusive to their partners. Can
we predict 40 years ahead who will abuse their partner?
Sample size: is 202 men good enough? Size matters but what’s more crucial is how
they were recruited. If randomized sample then 202 is good, but if they were selected
in a bias manner it is not good even if it was larger.
An important aspect of research is replication. One study alone is never enough
because every study has its own empirical limitations. If the study was done in
England and another in Australia had the same findings, what does it say about
cultural differences? This is why pooling data from different studies is important to
see the similarities or differences in findings.
This study is unique because it follows the same group of men for 40 years, lots of
money and time, big investments.
Maybe men are more likely to be victimized but females are more likely to end up
with serious injuries
Neuropsychological deficits were associated with IPV 40 years later (mental illnesses,
personality disorders, chemical imbalances: serotonin levels). The operational
definition of neuropsychological deficit is important, how did they measure it? How
was it conceptualized AND how it was measured.
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There are numerous criminological facts
- In 2004, in canada only
oMore than 2500 000 crimes reported to the police
oMore than 1 300 000 property crimes reported to the police
- The actual numbers are really high and its not humanly possible to varify all
Making sense of every single fact is difficult
- Cannot study every single criminological fact
- Simplification must be introduced
- Hard to decide which one…
oImportant factors may not be known
oRelevant variables may not be included in the study
oNot enough cases to highlight all possible patterns
-Introduce who, what and how you’ll be studying. When the Cambridge study
was launched, they didn’t measure self control theory of Gottfredson and
Hirschi, that’s 30 years later. So in 1960’s they were concerned about the
current theories but theories change and evolve, different factors are
introduced and shows over time. When the study is launched so long ago the
study will be missing important information, things that they were not aware of
such as smoking or drinking during pregnancy, prenatal factors were not
associated with criminal behaviors. You WILL be missing factors
Two main strategies to simplify all these facts
- Qualitative research
- Quantitative research
- Best way to go when you don’t know much about the phenomenon. Good for
initial investigation
- For doing this, you target a small number cases
- Phenomenological (perceptions expressed in their own words)
- Data (written or spoken words) using interviews
oAsk few questions and broad questions
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