Criminal Justice Research Exam Review #1
1. Overgeneralization is an error that occurs in reasoning when a researcher
concludes that what is true for one case is true in all cases. For example, a
researcher might say everyone who smiles is happy which is definitely not the
case. This could be avoided by using systematic procedures for selecting
individuals/groups that one wishes to generalize.
Selective observation is another error that occurs in reasoning, where a
researcher might choose to look at phenomena according to personal beliefs,
regardless of the facts. An example would be a researcher who is convinced that
all murderers are unable to be rehabilitated there are cases where murderers are
regretful and turn their lives around. Requiring that we measure and sample
phenomena systematically could reduce this error in reasoning.
Another error in reasoning is illogical reasoning, where a researcher prematurely
jumps to conclusions or argues on the basis of invalid assumptions. For example,
it would be illogical for a researcher to propose that The Goosebumps cause
violence in children if evidence indicates that the majority of readers are not
involved in crime. One can avoid illogical reasoning by using explicit criteria for
identifying causes and for determining if these criteria are met in a particular
Resistance to change occurs when a researcher is reluctant to change their ideas
in light of new information. Could be because of egobased commitments,
excessive devotion to tradition, or uncritical agreements with authority. Scientific
methods reduce resistance to change.
2. Descriptive research is defining and describing social phenomena. For example,
“how many youths are offenders?” “what is the most common crime committed
by youth offenders?” “what is the magnitude of youth violence?”
Exploratory research seeks to find out how many people get along in the setting
under question, what meanings they give to their actions, and what issues concern
them. The goal is to gather more info on newly identified areas/concerns. For
example, “how do schools respond to gun violence?” “what’s it like to be in a
gang?” The researcher gets a “feel” for the topic being studied. Usually involves
Explanatory research seeks to identify causes and effects of social phenomena,
to predict how one phenomenon will change or vary in response to variation in
some other phenomenon. For example, “what factors are related to youth
delinquency and violence?” “does the unemployment rate influence the frequency
of youth crime?”
Evaluation research seeks to determine the effects of a social program or other
types of intervention. Deals with cause and effect. For example, “do violence
prevention programs in schools work?” “do bullying programs in schools work?”
3. There are three different motivations for research in criminology. First, there are
policy motivations where a researcher may want to assess programs or policies to
determine their success and develop ways to improve outcomes and better address
problems with these programs. For example, federal agencies such as the U.S.
Department of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention want to identify the magnitude of youth violence to better develop programs, and many
state and local officials use social research to guide the development of their
social service budgets. A researcher may be academically motivated as well, and
want to learn more about complex phenomena to better understand crime and
society’s response to it. An example is research being conducted today concerning
the impact of disintegrating economic bases in central cities and their relationship
to crime and violence. A researcher may also want to conduct a study due to
personal motivations, where they want to improve society for their own purpose
and reasoning. Usually a researcher is motivated from their own personal
experiences, such as being a volunteer at an atrisk youth organization such as Big
Brothers Big Sisters and finding fallouts within the programs. Then the researcher
will later begin to develop a research agenda based on experiences with such
programs or other arising issues they’re concerned with.
4. Deductive research stems from theorizing to data collection and then back to
theorizing. Basically, an expectation is deduced and then tested. Inductive
research begins at the bottom of the research circle and then works upward. The
researcher begins with specific data, which are then used to develop (induce) a
general explanation (theory) to account for the data. Inductive research would be
preferable to deductive research in the case of serendipitous
findings/anomalous findingsunexpected patterns in data. The researcher would
have to reason inductively to make theoretical sense out of the unanticipated
findings. If they seem to make sense when paired with a theory, the researcher
would return to deductive reasoning.
Strengths/weaknesses The explanation formed after theorizing from the data is
less certain than an explanation presented prior to the collection of data
(deductive) which is why researchers tend to test their theories again with
deductive research. However, with inductive research the data is already
collected and there is an empirical understanding about the phenomena, which
makes it easier to connect to a theory or develop a new theory if there are
unanticipated findings. This method also allows researchers to double check their
deductive research on a concept, which may have turned out to be multi
dimensional and therefore may have a different theoretical basis.
As with deductive research, a researcher has to get into the field and actually
collect the data. They also have to avoid their preconceived beliefs about what
they’re trying to prove to ensure that their data is valid and actually linked to the
theory in some way. However, deductive research helps guide the research
process because the researcher is able to create a hypothesis with predictions
based on theoretical constructs; they aren’t collecting data blindly, the data they
collect is well thought out and will help prove their hypothesis.
5. Are police officers reluctant to use necessary force due to the spreading of police
brutality videos on Facebook and other social media websites?
Feasibility the question is feasible because I could conduct the study within a
specific time frame as long as I had the ability access the police officers for
questioning/surveying. Social Importance This question is important because a police officer who is
reluctant to use necessary force when he’s in danger risks his life as well as others in the
community if the criminal is able to escape from arrest.
Scientific relevance Criminological literature on this topic/question exists but in
general terms. Technology has impacted the police force in a number of positive ways,
but it has also enabled citizens to bring brutality to light. Although there are many
officers who deserve to be put in the spotlight, there is still relevance in researching how
the trend of social media has impacted the police officers whom abide by the rules.
6. Criminological theory is a rich source of research questions and ideas/ a
logically interrelated set of propositions about empirical reality. It’s useful in
research because it helps us predict behavior, explain/understand events or people,
organize/understand research findings, guide future research and help guide
public policy. Theoretical constructs describe what is important to explain,
understand, predict, and “do something about” in crime. A theoretical construct
can be a constant or a variable depending on what it is.
7. Validity and ethics are linked because a researcher should not seek out other
individuals for a study that is being conducted on the basis of verifying their
preexisting prejudices or to convince others to take action on behalf of their own
personal interests. I do not think that the two terms can be separated because
evaluating the validity of one’s measures is a crucial step in the research process.
If this step is overlooked it’s completely unethical on the researchers part who is
spreading lies to the scientific community and public.
8. Researchers with a philosophy of positivism believe that an objective reality
exists apart from the perceptions of those who observe it, and the goal of science
is to better understand this objective reality. This philosophical perspective
emphasizes that there are universal laws of human behavior that scientists can see
clearly if they are objective and unbiased.
Postpositivism is a philosophy of reality that is closely related to positivism.
Postpositivists believe that there is an external, objective reality, but they are
sensitive to the complexity of this reality and the limitations of the scientists who
study it. They recognize the biases they bring to their research and do not think
they can ever be sure that their methods allow them to perceive this “objective
reality.” Their goal is to achieve intersubjective agreement among scientists
about the nature of reality. Meaning, they are much more confident in the ability
of the community of social scientists to develop an unbiased account of reality
than an individual scientist.
Qualitative research is often guided by a philosophy of interpretivism.
Interpretivists believe that there is no single empirical realit