FRHD 2100 Chapter 2: FRHD 2100 Week 1, Chapter 2: Research Methods

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Week #1
Chapter 2: Research Methods – page #33-52:
A Scientific Approach to Human Sexuality:
Empirical derived from or based on observation and experimentation
o Base research on evidence, rather than on intuition, faith, or superstition
Scientists may use intuition or religious beliefs to come up with topics for scientific study, but
once they’ve selected those topics, they use the scientific method to seek answers to their
The Scientific Method:
Scientists are involved in the quest for truth, but they recognize that this search is a
continuous process, and that a set of final truths, especially those regarding human
behaviour, will likely remain elusive
The scientific method is a systematic way of gathering scientific evidence and testing
assumption through research; it has a number of elements:
1. Formulating a research question a scientist formulates a research question on the basis
of observation and theory about an event or behaviour. She or he then conducts
empirical research to answer these questions
2. Framing the research question in the form of a hypothesis a hypothesis is a precise
prediction about behaviour that is often derived from theory; a hypothesis is tested
through research
3. Testing the hypothesis the scientist then tests the hypothesis through carefully
controlled observation and experimentation
4. Drawing conclusions the scientist then analyzes the results of the test and draws
conclusions, or inferences, about whether the hypothesis is correct; if the results of a
well-designed research study fail to support a certain hypothesis, the scientist can revise
the theory she or he has used served as the framework for the hypothesis; research
findings often lead scientists to modify their theories and, in turn, generate new
hypotheses that can be tested with further research
Goals of the Science of Human Sexuality:
The goals of the science of human sexuality are congruent with those of other sciences to
describe, explain, predict, and control the events of interest
Description is the basic objective of science, it precedes understanding
o Scientists attempt to be clear, unbiased, and precise in their descriptions of
events and behaviours
Researchers attempt to relate their observations to specific factors, or variables, that can help
explain the observations
o Variables quantities or qualities that vary or that may vary
o Demographic concerning the vital statistics of a human population (e.g.,
density, race, age, education)
The variables that are commonly used to explain sexual behaviour are biological (age, sex,
health status), psychological (anxiety, self-confidence, knowledge, skills), and demographic
or sociological (education level, socioeconomic status, ethnicity)
Theories provide frameworks within which scientists can explain and make predictions about
what they observe
Theories must also enable us to make predictions about what will happen in the future
The purpose of scientific research into human sexuality is not to dictate to people how they
ought to behave, rather, at its best, it can provide information or insights that people can use
to better understand themselves ad make decisions about their own behaviours
Sexuality research helps educators, social workers, psychologists, therapists, nurses,
doctors, and other professionals improve the sexual health and well-being of individuals and
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Week #1
Quantitative Research Methods:
Populations and Samples Representing the World of Diversity:
Population a complete group of organisms or events
Populations of interest / targeted populations focus on specific groups, such as First
Nations people, transgendered people, women, or adolescents
A scientist selects individuals from the population and studies them these individuals who
participate in the research are collectively called a sample
o Sample part of a population selected for study
Representative sample is a research sample of participants who accurately represent the
population of interest
If the sample does not represent the target population, the scientist cannot extend, or
generalize, the results of his or her research to the population of interest
o Generalize use information from a particular case or sample to draw
conclusions about a larger phenomenon or population
Sampling Methods:
Random sample a sample in which every member of a population has an equal chance of
Stratified random sample a random sample in which known subgroups of a population are
represented in proportion to their numbers within the population
Volunteer bias a slanting of research data caused by the characteristics of individuals who
volunteer to participate (e.g., their willingness to discuss intimate behaviour)
Methods of Observation:
The Case Study Method:
Case study a carefully drawn, in-depth biography of an individual or a small group of
individuals. This information may be obtained through interviews, questionnaires, and
historical records
Despite the richness of material that may be derived from a case study, it is not as rigorous a
research design as an experiment people often have gaps in memory, especially
concerning childhood events
The potential for observer bias is also a prominent concern clinicians and interviewers may
unintentionally guide people into saying what they expect to hear or researchers may
inadvertently colour people’s reports when they write them down, shaping them subtly in
ways that reflect their own views
The Survey Method:
Survey a detailed study of a sample obtained through such methods as interviews and
Researchers may interview or administer questionnaires to thousands of people from
particular population groups to learn about their sexual behaviours and attitudes
Questionnaires can be administered to many people at once, and respondents can return
them unsigned
Anonymity may encourage respondents to disclose intimate information
Interviews can be used with people who can’t read or write and surveys can only be used by
people who are literate
Large-Scale Canadian and American Studies:
The Kinsey Reports:
Alfred Kinsey and his colleagues (1948-1953) interviewed 5300 men and 5940 women in the
United States between 1938 and 1949
They asked a wide array of questions about various types of sexual experiences, including
masturbation, oral sex, and coitus before, during, and outside of marriage
He adopted a group sampling approach recruited study participants from organizations and
community groups such as college fraternities and sororities, he contacted representatives of
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