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Lecture #2- Research Methods & The Study of Sex.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Ashley Waggoner Denton

Lecture #2: Research Methods & The Study of Sex Four Ways of Knowing the World: 1. Intuition  Gut feeling, no evidence 2. Logic  Reasoning 3. Authority  Who the information is coming from 4. Observation  Collecting data  Key for scientists Science is not a “what” to be studied, it is how it is studied. It is necessary for a scientist to formulate a hypothesis and have a purpose. Four Canons of Science: 1. Determinism: The universe is orderly; all events have meaningful, systematic causes o Theories  Causal relationship between variables and their relationship o Variables 2. Empiricism: Collecting data or making observations to test hypotheses 3. Parsimony: Explaining observations in the simplest ways possible; in competing theories, the simpler with the least amount of assumptions is better o Also known as Occam’s razor 4. Testability: theories should be testable o Operational definitions: variables that are well-defined and easily measured (like time, height and temperature)  Often, variables are not so easy Some variable are not well defined and can’t be directly observed.  Constructs: Attributes or characteristics that cannot be directly observed but are useful for explaining behaviour (e.g. intelligence). o Every measurement can have three types: physiological measures, behavioural measures and self-reported measures. The Scientific Method: TheoryHypothesisResearch Support/Refute A single study on its own does not tell much, it needs to be replicated: Hypothesize Operationalize HOMER Measure Evaluate Replicate/revise/report Types of Research: The types of research vary on the level of control of the variables: 1. Descriptive/Observational:  Involved observing and classifying behaviour - Marian Keech & “The Seekers”: The Seekers are cult the believed in aliens called The Guardians, that would save their group from the apocalypse. The scientists wanted to see their reactions when The Guardians didn’t show up, and if it would affect their beliefs. He joined the cult to observe the behaviour (the group knew he was a scientist). The leader of the cult said she received a message from The Guardians saying the belief of the group saved humanity.  Often the first line of research; form the hypothesis after observations  Observational Research: - Masters & Johnson:  Foundations of sex research  Dispelled misconceptions about sex  Direct observation of sexual activities performed in the labs  The initial participants of these studies were prostitutes, but they realized there was a sampling problem with this o Later turned to community samples  Based on observations, described a four-stage model of sexual arousal o Four-Stage Model of Sexual Arousal: 1. Excitement Phase 2. Plateau Phase 3. Orgasm 4. Resolution Phase  Published a book on homosexuality  converted homosexuals into heterosexuals o Didn’t say it was a mandatory procedure, yet it could be done  Huge influence, but much criticism  Descriptive Research: - Naturalistic Observation:  Passive observation  Observers do not change ongoing behaviour  Subject isn’t aware of observation - Participant Observation:  Active observation  The researcher sis actively involved in the situation  Become members; people are aware o “The Seekers” example - Laboratory Observation:  Systematic observations are made in a lab setting, as opposed to the real world o Masters & Johnson example  Potential threats of descriptive research: - Observer bias  Forcing the hypothesis o The way researchers handle rats can effect research results  Pre-existing beliefs - Reactivity  Experimenter expectancy effects o By the experimenter expecting something, the participant may unknowingly portray the behaviour  The “Hawthorne Effect” o When people know they’re being observed, they act in the most socially acceptable manner according to social norms  Surveys & Interviews: - Kinsey:  Interviewed thousands of diverse men and women for books and found shocking information  Suggested that sexual orientation was a continuum o Classified using the Kinsey scale: Ranged from 0 (exclusively homosexual) to 6 (exclusively heterosexual) - Buss, Sexual Strategies Theory:  Evolutionary hypotheses tested mate preferences  Men prefer younger women with good looks  Women prefer older men that are industrious and ambitious  This is consistent among cultures  Important to remember that the similarities outweigh the differences in the survey  Reproduction is more intensive for women, so they are more cautious about having sex and look for qualities in partners that will support them  Men don’t have the reproduction wait time, but they want healthy offspring  look for youthfulness and fertility in women - Need to remember that this data is helpful in guiding research, but should not be used solely as data - “Sex Cures Migraines” example  Self-Report: - People provide information about themselves - Self-Report Bias:  Socially desirable responding o Constitute to the norms of society o People report what they want o To help: remind participants of scientific nature, the anonymity and security  “Better Than Average” Effect o Everyone believes they are better than average; yet this can’t be true because not everyone can be better than average - Can be ambiguous  “Hooking Up” Example o No clear guidelines to what this means, so people are open to talking about it o People can misconstrue information 2. Correlational Research:  Involves how variab
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