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SOC101Y1 Lecture Notes - Falsifiability, Field Experiment, Operationalization

Course Code
Robert Brym

of 3
Research Methods
ADGJM two letters between each
OTTFFSSENT first letter of one to ten
- Reality is not just a thing we learn, experience helps us determine how to perceive reality
- Experience at childhood may influence throughout your life, even to adulthood (e.g. frequent
physical abuse since young can become comforting when you grow up)
How Research Filters Perception:
Self Values, Theories, Existing Research, Methods Reality
Values, Theories, Existing Research, and Methods filter how we see the world/reality
- Values: makes us have favourite kinds of explanations
- Methods: helps us dig up different part of reality
- Perceive world more accurately by certain ways that minimize bias
- Healthy tension between subjectivity (helps us determine which are worth checking) and
objectivity (reality check)
The Research Cycle (eight steps):
1. Figure out what matters to you
2. Formulate a testable theory (a tentative explanation of a phenomenon)
a. Testable if able to testify that it’s falsifiable (e.g. existence of God not testable because
can’t disprove or prove). Usually personal beliefs not able to use as theory.
3. Review existing literature
a. Using knowledge we already have
4. Select method(s)
5. Collect data
a. Go to archive, conduct survey
6. Treat subjects ethically
a. Four main principles in Research Ethics:
1) Respect your subjects’ right to safety:
i. do your subjects no harm and, in particular, give them the right to decide whether and
how they can be studied
2) Respect your subjects’ right to informed consent:
i. Tell subjects how the information they supply will be used and allow them to judge the
degree of personal risk involved in supplying it
3) Respect your subjects’ right to privacy:
i. Allow subjects the right to decide whether and how the information they supply may be
revealed to the public
4) Respect your subjects’ right to confidentiality:
i. Refrain from using information in a way that allows it to be traced to a particular subject
7. Analyze data
a. Can reformulate theory to test to see if your hypothesis was right, and get a revised
theory (going back and forth between step 2 and 7)
8. Report results
a. Publicize material to allow others to inspect and criticize, and hopefully improve it
Other Research Ethics:
5) Do not falsify data:
i. Report findings as they are, not as you would like them to be
6) Do not plagiarize:
i. Explicitly identify, credit, and reference authors when making use of their written work
in any form, including Web postings
Participant Observation:
- Researchers engage in participant observation when they try to observe a social milieu from an
outsider’s point of view and take part in the activities of their subjects (allowing them to
understand the point of view of their subjects)
- They must avoid influencing their subjects’ behaviour (reactivity or the Hawthorne effect)
- Most participant-observation studies begin as exploratory research in which the researcher uses
hunches as hypotheses (unverified but testable statements derived from theories)
If too deeply immersed in a group, researchers unable to see from outside.
- Variables: are concepts that can take more than one value
- Operationalization: involves establishing criteria for assigning values to variables
- If a measurement procedure yields consistent results, we consider it reliable
- If a measurement procedure measures what it is supposed to, we consider it valid (and it has
external validity if it is consistent with what we know from previous research or allows us to
make useful predictions).
- If research findings hold in many contexts, we consider them generalizable
- Causality is the measurement of causes and their effects
- An experiment is a controlled artificial situation that allows researchers to isolate hypothesized
causes and measure their effects precisely
- Randomization involves assigning individuals to groups by chance processes
- The experimental group will be exposed to the stimulus during an experiment
- The control group will not be exposed to the stimulus during the experiment
- The dependent variable is the effect in any cause-and-effect relationship
- The independent variable is the presumed cause in any cause-and-effect relationship
- Changing people’s behaviour by making them aware they are being studied is known as the
Hawthorne effect
- In a field experiment, researchers compare groups that are already quite similar and introduce
the independent variable themselves
- In a natural experiment, researchers compare groups that are already quite similar and observe
what happens when the independent variable is introduced to one of the groups in the normal
course of social
- Crime rate started increasing through the 60s, sociologists found that the first generation of ppl
were influenced by the violence in television that they watched (use to seeing ppl beaten up,
- Control group: not exposed to violent tv programs
experimental group: are exposed to violent tv programs
Measurement as Target Practice