SOAN 2120 Exam Review:
- Attributes: Characteristics of people or things.
- Deduction: The logical model in which specific expectations of hypotheses are developed on the
basis of general principles. Starting from the general principle that all deans are meanies, you
might anticipate that this one won’t let you change courses. This anticipation would be the
result of deduction.
- Dependent variable: A variable assumed to depend on or be caused by another (called the
independent variable). If you find that income is partly a function of amount of formal
education, income is being treated as a dependent variable.
- Idiographic: An approach to explanation in which we seek to exhaust the idiosyncratic causes of
a particular condition or event. Imagine trying to list all the reasons why you chose to attend
your particular university. Given all those reasons, it’s difficult to imagine you’re making any
- Independent variable: A variable with values that are not problematical in an analysis but are
taken as simply given. An independent variable is presumed to cause or determine a dependent
variable. If we discover that religiosity is partly a function of gender-women are more religious
than men-gender is the independent variable and religiosity is the dependent variable. Note
that any given variable might be treated as independent in one part of an analysis and
dependent in another part of it. Religiosity might become an independent variable in the
explanation of crime.
- Induction: The logical model in which general principles are developed from specific
observations. Having noted that Jews and Catholics are more likely to vote Liberal than
Protestants are, you might conclude that religious minorities in Canada are more affiliated with
the Liberal party and explain why. This would be an example of induction.
- Nomothetic: An approach to explanation in which we seek to identify a few causal factors that
generally impact a class of conditions or events. Imagine the two or three key factors that
determine which universities students choose, such as proximity, reputation, and so forth.
- Repetition: Repetition of a research study in order to either confirm the findings of a previous
study or bring them into question. (2) A technical term used in connection with the elaboration
model to refer to the empirical outcome of the persistence of the observed initial relationship
between two variables when a control variable is held constant. This supports the idea that the
original, zero-order relationship is genuine.
- Theory: A systematic explanation for the observations that relate to a particular aspect of life:
juvenile delinquency, for example, or perhaps social stratification or political revolution.
- Variables: Logical groupings of attributes. The variable gender is made up of the attributes male
- axioms or postulates: Fundamental assertions, taken to be true, on which a theory is grounded.
- Hypothesis: A specified testable expectation about empirical reality that follows from a more
general proposition; more generally, an expectation about the nature of things derived from a
theory. It is a statement of something that ought to be observed in the real world if the theory is
- Hypothesis testing: The determination of whether the expectations that a hypothesis
represents are, indeed, found to exist in the real world.
- Macrotheory: A theory aimed at understanding the "big picture" of institutions, whole societies,
and the interactions among societies. Karl Marx’s examination of the class struggle is an
example of macrotheory.
- Microtheory: A theory aimed at understanding social life at the intimate level of individuals and
their interactions. Examining how the play behaviour of girls differs from that of boys would be
an example of microtheory.
- Operational definition: The concrete and specific definition of something in terms of the
operations by which observations are to be categorized. The operational definition of "earning
an A in this course" might be "correctly answering at least 90 percent of the final exam
- Operationalization: One step beyond conceptualization. Operationalization is the process of
developing operational definitions-that is, specifying the exact operations involved in measuring
- Paradigm: A model or framework for observation and understanding, which shapes both what
we see and how we understand it. The conflict paradigm causes us to see social behaviour one
way; the interactionist paradigm causes us to see it differently.
- Propositions: specific conclusions about the relationships among concepts that are derived from
the axiomatic groundwork
- Anonymity: Anonymity may be guaranteed in a research project when neither the researchers
nor the readers of the findings can identify a given response with a given respondent.
- Confidentiality: A research project guarantees confidentiality when the researcher can identify a
given person’s responses but promises not to do so publicly.
- Debriefing: Interviewing subjects following their participation in the research project to learn
about their experiences and reactions to their participation. Negative reactions can be a special
concern. If it is determined that participation generated any problems for the subject, there is
an attempt to correct such problems.
- Informed consent: A norm in which research subjects base their voluntary participation in a
study on a full understanding of the potential risks involved.
- Census: An enumeration of the characteristics of some population. A census is often similar to a
survey, with the difference that the census collects data from all members of the population and
the survey is limited to a sample.
- Cohort Study: A study in which some specific subpopulation, or cohort, is studied over time,
although data may be collected from different members in each set of observations. A study of
the occupational history of the class of 1970, in which questionnaires were sent every five years,
for example, would be a cohort study.
- Correlation: An empirical relationship between two variables such that (a) changes in one are
associated with changes in the other or (b) particular attributes of one variable are associated
with particular attributes of the other. For example, weight and height are said to be correlated
because of the association between increases in height and increases in weight. Correlation in
and of itself does not constitute a causal relationship between two variables, but it is one
criterion of causality.
- Cross-sectional study: A study based on observations representing a single point in time.
Contrasted with a longitudinal study.
- Ecological fallacy: Erroneously drawing conclusions about individuals based solely on the
observation of groups.
- Generalizability: That quality of a research finding that justifies the inference that it represents
something more than the specific observations on which it was based. Sometimes this involves
the generalization of findings from a sample to a population. Other times, it?s a matter of
concepts: If you discover why people commit burglaries, can you generalize that discovery to
other crimes as well?
- Longitudinal study: A study design involving the collection of data at different points in time, as
contrasted with a cross-sectional study.
- Panel study: A type of longitudinal study in which data are collected from the same set of
people (the sample or panel) at several points in time.
- Spurious relationship: A coincidental statistical correlation between two variables that is shown
to be caused by some third variable. For example, there is a positive correlation between ice
cream sales and deaths due to drowning: the more ice cream sold, the more drowning’s.
However, there is no direct link between ice cream and drowning. The third variable at work
here is season or temperature. Most drowning deaths occur during summer, the peak period for
ice cream sales.
- Trend study: A type of longitudinal study in which a given characteristic of some population is
monitored over time. An example would be the series of Gallup Polls showing the political-
candidate preferences of the electorate over the course of a campaign, even though different
samples were interviewed at each point.
- Units of analysis: The What or Whom being studied. In social science research, the most typical
units of analysis are individual people, but social artifacts, like books or movies, and groups,
populations and other aggregates are often studied as well.
- Conceptualization: The mental process whereby fuzzy and imprecise notions (concepts) are
made more specific and precise. So you want to study prejudice. What do you mean by
prejudice? Are there different kinds of prejudice? What are they?
- Construct validity: The degree to which a measure relates to other variables as expected within
a system of theoretical relationships.
- Content validity: The degree to which a measure covers the range of meanings included within
- Criterion related validity: The degree to which a measure relates with some external criterion.
For example, the validity of occupational qualifying examinations is shown in their ability to
predict future evaluations of the individuals? job performances. Also called predictive validity.
- Dimension: A specifiable aspect or facet of a concept. Religiosity, for example, might be
specified in terms of a ritual dimension, a belief dimension, a devotional dimension, and so
- Face validity: That quality of an indicator that makes it seem a reasonable measure of some
variable. That the frequency of attendance at religious services is some indication of a person?s
religiosity seems to make sense without a lot of explanation. It has face validity.