[POL 51] - Midterm Exam Guide - Everything you need to know! (14 pages long)

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POL 51
MIDTERM EXAM
STUDY GUIDE
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JAN 11
Lecture 1
Scientific Method:
1. Causal Theory (to explain the outcome)
- Why and the How, the process, reasoning, think Because
- Operationalization: How will we measure the concept
- Evidence to go from theory → hypothesis (ex. % of something like unemployment)
2. Hypothesis
- Statement derived from theory (testable statements)
- Describes a relationship we expect to see between 2 variables if the model is “true”
- Tells us what value the DV is predicted to be given a certain value of the IV
- Variables should be measurable (ex. Income, partisanship, apathy)
- How do changes in one variable result in the change of another?
- Independent variable (IV)
- Cause or causal factor, explanatory variable, usually denoted as ‘X’
- Covariation: changes in the value of the IV should result in different values of the DV
- IV needs to have different values for us to know if it has an impact on the DV
- Dependent variable (DV)
- The effect, the outcome variable, usually denoted as ‘Y’
- How do we know it’s right? → Test empirically
- When writing
- Talk only about the expected relationship between variable values
- No need to provide rationale (the because), that’s provided by theory
- Ex. If rain amounts increase, we should see river levels rise. (X: rain amounts, Y: river levels)
- More hypotheses tested (and the evidence supports it) = the more confidence in the theory
3. Empirical Test (w/real-life data)
4. Evaluation of Hypothesis (what do the tests say?)
5. Evaluation of Causal Theory (re-examine causal theory)
Social science methods: a set of academic disciplines using the “scientific method” to study society and the manner in which people behave
- Ex. economics, sociology, anthropology, psychology
- Political science: social science of understanding of behavior relating to or channeled through gov’t
Observed Phenomenon
- Outcomes we notice in the world
- Ex. notice that Labour party loses election
- Objective: come up w/plausible reasoning(s) and process(es) for the pattern of outcomes we see (the Why and How)
Ex. British Elections (1979)
- James Callaghan’s Labour Party ousted → Conservative Party wins
- Why did the Labour party lose? (Plausible Reasons)
- Economic performance (Recession, Unemployment, Income inequality)
→ people blame party in power
- Party in power is doing a bad job
- Ex. International crisis poorly handled
- Scandal
- Election timing (bc party can call election anytime within the 5 year period)
- How can we know these are the reasons?
- Bc we use social science methods
Research Questions about the British Election (1979)
- One Idea: Britain was in a recession in the years before the election
→ Q: Why did Britain’s recession affect the Labour Party’s vote share?
- What process would link recession and election performance?
Assembling the Theory
- Outlines the process and reasoning leading from cause to outcome
- Focus on the important factors
- Examples
- Bad Theory: The recession caused the Labour party to lose the 1979 election because people lost their jobs and blamed
them.
- Not a good theory bc it leaves some reasoning unclear.
- Why does blaming the Labour party cause them to lose the election?
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- Better Theory: The recession caused the Labour party to lose the 1979 British election because people lost their jobs
(unemployment rate increases); and since the Labour party was in power, people blamed them. They looked to other parties
who might be able to fix the economy, wanted a new government who could stop the recession voted for the Conservative
party instead of Labour. On election day, people supported other parties like the Conservatives.
- Hypothesis: If the unemployment rate in Britain goes up, we should see people voting for the Conservatives instead.
- To back our theory more, we should also look at other elections, not just ones w/a recession
- Generic Theory (so that it’s not only about Britain's 1979 election): Recessions cause governing parties to lose elections because
people suffer economically. They tend to blame the party in power. In turn, they will support a different party who they can fix the
economy.
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