SOAN 2120 Lecture Notes - Scatter Plot, Qualitative Property, Symbolic Interactionism
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Introductory Methods Review
What is social science?-The study of the influence the environment has on people as
individuals or groups. E.g trading places.
-3 paradigms are conflict theory, structural functionalism and symbolic interactionism.
These perspectives are important because they help you learn more about yourself and
people, but contemporary theorists now value research more.
-Founding fathers are Karl Marx, Max Weber and Emile Durkheim.
Conflict Theory-Looks at conflict among conflicting groups, mostly discussed in class
struggles. The ultimate result is to have total equality of everyone.
Structural Functionalism-Everything in society serves a specific function, if something
no longer has a function by consensus people will rule it out. Not everyone should be equal
but they should have the same opportunities to be equal.
Symbolic Interactionism- Abstract and focuses more on an individual level. Looks at the
meanings behind people’s behaviour and people’s perceptions of reality. Qualitative.
Theory-General assertion/claim about something. Then we need a hypothesis. E.g.
Students from Guelph are smarter than students from other universities.
Quantitative-Modes in which to acquire data are experiments or survey research.
Experimental Designs-Controlled environment modeled after the natural sciences. 3stages,
Pretest (often irrelevant), Treatment (Apply the experiment to one thing/group), Posttest
(results we get that we can compare).
e.g. Theory-Drug reduces cancer cells
Hypothesis-Cancer cells exposed to the drug will deteriorate.
Pretest-measure size of cells
Treatment-Put some cells is 1 dish, more in another, apply treatment to one cell. Cover
dishes to prove nothing else has influenced the cells.
Posttest-Measure size of cells again and see that the treatment one has gone smaller.
Conclusion-does reduce cancer cells; controlled experiment.
Social experiement-60’s psychological experiment on feelings of happiness. Have 3
groups, MPT, SC and control group.
Theory-MPT and SC increase happiness
Hypothesis-Groups 1 and 2 will be happier than group 3
Pretest- see how happy they feel in a 5min period
Treatment- Administer MPT, SC and water
Posttest- See how happy they were in a 5 min period.
Survey Research-Most research by sociologists and psychologists is surveys
-No manipulation of subjects, popular methods are by phone, mail, personal interview,
internet etc. Each person on the survey represents a variable.
-Advantages-Tap into attitudes, easy to administer to large numbers of people, very
generalizable to the population.
-Disadvantages-Lack of control, e.g. people are already in the groups you didn’t put them
Variable-Anything that varies; has more than one category. E.g. you ask a question and
there is more than 1 possible answer, question is a variable.
Quantitative variable-Continuous (can be ranked), numerical. Helps in assessing
relationships (correlations). E.g. Education (years of schooling) vs. income (dollars)
Categorical (Qualitative) Variable-No rank order and non-numerical. E.g., religion.
Independent Variable-Causal variables…come first
Dependant variable-Effect variable…depends on the independent.
Correlation-shows how 2 variables are related. Plotted on a scatter plot where each dot
represents a particular person.
Positive-One value increases the other increases
Negative-One value increases the other decreases
Line-No correlation, the 2 variables are unrelated.
Scatter plots-Important when exploring a relationship between 2 variables. Helps us
identify problem cases, form of the relationship, estimate strength of relationship.
Correlation Coefficient- Can only be used when relationship is linear. It tells us the
strength of the relationship and the direction but does not tell us the slope of a line. Shown
- -1 (perfect negative relationship), +1 (perfect positive relationship), 0 (no relationship)
Outliers-represent a-typical observations you wouldn’t normally see. 1 spot or person that
doesn’t fit with the general correlation. Can either accept it as an unusual part of the data
and leave it in, may be a coding error so check figures, you may want to remove it at your
discretion (usually smaller samples).
Issue of Causality-Correlation doesn’t mean causation. We infer a causal relationship
based on our understanding of the temporal relationships between variables (what occurs in
Assigning causal order-Can be problematic because A could cause B, B could cause A or
a third external factor could cause both. Only an issue with cross-sectional studies. Can be
helped by doing extensive research and good theorizing.
Spurious relationship-Two variables that are seemingly related are actually controlled by
a third unknown variable.
Is relationship significant?-Check line of best fit and the scattering of plots. Higher the
correlation the stronger the relationship.
-Check likelihood/probability in the form of p-values
Common p-value thresholds- p=.05, 95% confident variables are related
P=.01, 99% confident the variables are related, p=.001, 99.9% confident variables are
Stats vs. Maths-Never use the word prove because the sample could just be bizarre, things
aren’t proven just demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt. Looks just at relationships and
estimate of the population.
Statistical Control-not as good as experimental control (this is the goal). Question if we
have controlled for everything…virtually impossible to control for everything.
Regression Analysis-Deciding whether or not the effect of an independent variable on a
dependant variable is statistically significant, while holding other variables constant.
Qualitative Research-Do not generate theories, but, test theories using methods.
-Non-linear process often move between stages of creating a theory and changing the
-Most preferred as it discusses sensitive issues, establishes rapport with participants (trust)
and you are not restricted by a research agenda. Much more open.
-doesn’t use statistics.
-Methods are qualitative interviews and participant observation.
Qualitative Interviews-Open ended questions which allows for a variety of answers,
respondents own words. Research then has opportunity to probe because of trust, lets
research explore different areas and can be done anywhere.
Advantages-Provide rich, descriptive, detailed information, sensitive topics.
Disadvantages-Time consuming, expensive, depends on the effectiveness of the researcher.
Participant Observation-Observe and participate with people in their natural setting.
Grounded theory-Theories are grounded in the data they collect, very exploratory with no
variables. Study the group with no pre-determined theories.
Strengths-Usually more fascinating groups, usually go in with little knowledge so no
assumptions. More valid because its more thorough. More generalizable to the real world
(that group only!)
Limitations-More subjective (based on researchers pov), difficult to generalize beyond the
group you observed.
Quantitative vs. Qualitative-Quantitative tests theories, objective, free from bias, reliable,
but is less thorough and less valuable to sensitive issues.
-Qualitative creates theories, subjective, not free of bias, less reliable but more thorough.
-e.g. Evaluation for exams often starts off with mostly multiple choice with little long
answer. Easier to evaluate that way with large numbers of people, quicker to mark, same
answers for everyone but is it really an accurate way of measuring your knowledge? It then
moves into more of an essay format which is much more thorough and valid and we can do
this because there are less students however it still takes a long time to evaluate. But is
everyone then measured by the same criteria?
Analyzing Qualitative Data-Goals-identify patterns and capture spirit of the study
-Challenges-Large amounts of data in various formats, e.g. text, photos, videos
-data Preparation-Transcribing-manually convert audio/video data into text
-Coding-Reduce large amounts of data into smaller, more easily managed
Coding-Assign portions of text to an overarching theme/concept that reflects the meaning
of the selected passage. E.g. “Jane: volunteering is important. People should selflessly give
of their time and skills to help others for the collective good”
-could use “volunteering is important,” “sense of duty,” or “collective good.’
NVivo-Software is designed specifically to aid in analyzing qualitative data.
-was created by Lynn and Thomas Richards in 1980’s; originally called NUD*IST.
-Means “within the living”
-Key Features; important sources, assign attributes within the program, code within the
program, retrieve coding to uncover themes.
What is social science?-the study of the influence the environment has on people as individuals or groups. 3 paradigms are conflict theory, structural functionalism and symbolic interactionism. These perspectives are important because they help you learn more about yourself and people, but contemporary theorists now value research more. Founding fathers are karl marx, max weber and emile durkheim. Conflict theory-looks at conflict among conflicting groups, mostly discussed in class struggles. The ultimate result is to have total equality of everyone. Structural functionalism-everything in society serves a specific function, if something no longer has a function by consensus people will rule it out. Not everyone should be equal but they should have the same opportunities to be equal. Symbolic interactionism- abstract and focuses more on an individual level. Looks at the meanings behind people"s behaviour and people"s perceptions of reality. Students from guelph are smarter than students from other universities. Quantitative-modes in which to acquire data are experiments or survey research.