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Lecture 8

Lecture 8 - Descriptive and Correlational Methods 3.docx

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Western University
Psychology 2800E
Doug Hazlewood

Descriptive & Correlational Methods 3: Survey Research Prologue A common method, but… 1. Begin with clear purpose 2. Question format (open or closed) 3. Writing good questions (10 guidelines) 4. Writing response options (4 guidelines) Based on simple idea:  If you want to learn about people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviour, then ask.  A common method (based on a simple idea), so it must be a simple method? No! Part 1: Begin with Clear Purpose  General Issues:  Who do we want to study (also see next week: sampling)  What do we want to study? Constructs, operational definitions to measure variables?  Why conduct the study? Description? Correlations? Theory and hypothesis testing?  Next Step: construct the survey questionnaire (parts 2, 3, & 4) Part 2: Decide on Question Format A. Open-ended questions (answer in own words)  Ask them: “what is the most important problem facing the country today?”  Advantages:  Allow maximum freedom in how people respond; no constraints  Useful in preliminary stages of research  Disadvantages:  Difficult to analyze responses  Responses must be content analyzed (W&M 207-208)  Questions can be difficult to answer B. Closed-ended questions 1. Examples: a. Check-lists (e.g., select one problem from list provided) b. Rankings (e.g., rank list of problems) c. Rating Scales (more quantitative info). E.g.,  Attitude Scales (evaluative responses):  Likert Scale : Tuition should be Frozen (agree/disagree scale)  Disagree 1—2—3—4—5—6—7 Agree  Semantic Differential scale: A tuition freeze is:  Use bipolar adjective scales  Bad 1—2—3—4—5—6 Good 2. Other decisions (with rating scales) a. How many response options should we use (2, 20, 2000)?  Difficult to distinguish between more than “7 + or – 2” options (so use 5-9 options) b. Should options be labeled? E.g.  Disagree -2 -1 0 +1 +2 Agree strongly slightly neither slightly strongly  Labels clarify the meaning of scale values;  But might be confusing if scale can’t be seen (e.g., phone survey)  Simplify this with a branching format (phone survey):  Ask: Do you agree, disagree, or neither?  If agree (or disagree), branch to more detailed questions  Do you agree strongly, moderately, or slightly?  See page 223 for another example of “branching” c. Conduct a “pilot test”: try different formats and ask which is easiest to use  Important in all research (identify and solve problems before we conduct the main study) C. Question format can influence responses  Participants were asked: What is the most important problem facing the country today?  Some had to answer closed ended:  Quality of public schools 32%  Pollution 14%  Legalized abortion 8%  The energy crisis 6%  “Other” 40%  Other participants were given open ended response format:  Public Schools: 1%  Pollution 1%  Abortion 0%  Energy crisis 0%  Other 98%  Do pilot with open-ended format; then use closed-ended format for main survey Part 3: Writing the Questions Ten Guidelines: 1. Use appropriate complex (not too complex)  When making for adults, aim for language that average 14 year old would understand 2. Avoid technical jargon (conversion disorder?) – most people don’t know what that is 3. Provide clear definitions of terms, even if common (e.g.,
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