04:192:300 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Cognitive Dissonance, Belmont Report, Herd Immunity
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Communication Research Exam 1 Review Sheet
Ways of Knowing
How do we come to “know”?
● Mostly through agreement and belief--not personal experience or discovery
●Personal experience & indirect sources
● We learn about probability, and cause & effect (ex. toddler behavior)
○We desire predictability - but can we understand the results?
■ Investments of time vs. lucky streaks?
● “One in two marriages ends in divorce” - really
● Is drinking during pregnancy dangerous?
●Tradition - “Why? Because it’s always been this way.”
■ Little incentive to look for better ways to do or learn things
■ Resistance to new ideas
●Authority - People or systems we accord credibility
○ Diminished trust in traditional authorities
○ Diminished trust in mass media, in an increasingly fragmented media landscape
●Overgeneralizing - My one experience proves that…
●Inaccurate & selective observations - Reinforcing what we already know or are primed to see
● Problems with non-scientific beliefs
○ Based on limited knowledge
○Intuitive thinking; it just makes sense(?)
○ Drive to avoid cognitive dissonance
○ Times and conditions may change--so thinking has to be self-correcting
So, what is “real”?
● We live in a state of naive realism most of the time
●Perspective - What is universal and what is relative in human experience? (ex. reasons for a bald
Understanding Research in Society & How Research Gets Done
Foundations of Social Science
● Describe what is and why
● [Describe what should be
● Ex. Galileo, church
●Observable patterns in social behavior
● Trivial? Often not
● Exceptions? Often do prove the rule
Characteristics of the Scientific Approach
● Law of Parsimony
○ Keeping it simple--what can we throw out and still explain what we’re seeing? (ex. the perfect
little black dress)
○ Can what you’ve seen be seen by someone else?
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○ Major strength of science--self-correction (ex. recipes)
○ Does our study have meaning in another context?
Thinking in the Social Sciences
●Paradigms: ways of seeing the world that dominate at any one time
○ Frames of reference that organize thinking
○ Paradigm shifts
●Theories: systematic sets of interrelated statements that explain an aspect of social life
○ Theories flesh out paradigms; how we explain the world around us is limited by the current
●Hypotheses: Testable questions derived from theories
Types of Scientific Inquiry
Theory > Observation (usually associated with quantitative methods)
Problem - Theory - [Hypothesis] - Observation (Data)
Observation > Generalization (usually associated with qualitative methods)
Observation (Data) - [General Conclusion] - Theory
● An Example of Grounded Theory
Problem - Theory - [Hypothesis] - Observation (Data) - [Conclusion (Refine Theory)] - Theory
What do numbers mean?
● They can have symbolic value (used to justify a course of action)
● They can have instrumental value (as an aid to planning)
What role do numbers play?
● E.g.: Zadroga Bill to compensate the medical costs of approximately 4,000 Sept 11 first responders in
2010; reauthorized in 2019 permanently
●Instrumental value: Numbers help lawmakers and health workers calculate what funds will be needed
to cover the health costs of first responders
●Symbolic value: Numbers represent the further extent of loss on 9/11; also American heroism,
● Numbers can provide legitimacy for moving forward on an issue
Numbers as Evidence
● Can have symbolic value (used to justify a course of action) and instrumental value (as an aid to
○ Statistics/numbers are often presented as “truth”
○ Society places a high value on them
○ But, numbers can be collected and presented to reflect the interests of institutions, businesses,
● Numerical literacy
Numbers can be thought of in 3 ways:
● As objective truth; “facts” not to be questioned
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