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Chapter 8

SOC 2700 Chapter 8: Chapter 8

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOC 2700
Professor
Reza Barmaki
Semester
Fall

Description
Survey Research Research Questions Appropriate for a Survey  Survey research developed within a positivist approach to social science  The survey asks people called respondents about their beliefs, opinions, characteristics, and past or present behaviour  Surveys are appropriate for research questions about self reported beliefs or behaviours – they are strongest when the answers people give to questions measure variables  The following can be asked in a survey: behaviour, attitudes\beliefs \opinions, Characteristics, Expectations, Self Classification, Knowledge  Researchers do not ask why questions  A limitation of survey research is that it provides data only what a person or organizations says, and this may differ from what he or she actually does What is a Survey?  Survey researchers sample many respondents who answer the same question- they measure many variables, test multiple hypotheses, and infer temporal order  An association among variables is measured with statistical techniques  Survey research is often called correlational- where survey researchers use questions as control variables to achieve their physical control over temporal order and alternative explanations Steps in Conducting a Survey  Follows a deductive approach  Begins with a theoretical or applied research problem and ends with empirical measurement and data analysis. In the first phase the researcher develops a instrument- a questionnaire that they intend to measure variables with. Respondents answer questions on the questionnaire. An interview schedule is a set of questions read to the respondent by an interviewer, who also records the responses A survey research conceptualizes and operationalizes variables as questions. They write and rewrite questions When preparing a questionnaire, the researcher things ahead to how he or she will record and organize data for analysis. They will pilot test the questionnaire with a smaller set of respondents similar to those in the final survey He or she would ask the people within the questionnaire if the questions in the pilot test were organized After the planning stage, the researcher is ready to locate data – shorter than the planning stage- they locate the respondents in person or on the telephone -Survey research can be compiled and expertise and it can involve coordinating many people and steps -The surveys are translated into analytical data Steps in the Process of Survey Research Step 1: -Develop hypotheses -Decide on type of survey -Write survey questions -Decide on response categories -Design Layout Step 2: -Plan how to record data -Pilot test to survey instrument Step 3 -Decide on target population -Get sampling frame -Decide on sampling size -Select sample Step 4: -Locate respondents -Conduct interviews -Carefully record data Step 5: -Enter data into computers -Recheck all data -Preform statistical analysis on data Step 6: -Describe methods and findings in research report -Present findings to other for critique and evaluation Constructing the Questionnaire Principles of Good Question Writing  A good questionnaire forms an integrated whole  He or she includes introductory remarks and instructions for clarification and measures each variable with one or more survey questions  Three principles for an effective questions are: keep it clear, keep it simple, and the respondents perspective in mind  Good questions help the respondents to feel that they understand the question that their answers are meaningful  Questions must have a view points  The dilemma researchers face is that they don’t know if their question will be relevant ot all individuals backgrounds 12 things to avoid when writing survey questions 1. Avoid jargon, slang and abbreviations- unless a specialized population is being surveyed. Target the vocab to the respondents being sampled. 2. Avoid ambiguity, confusion and vagueness. for example, what is your income – does this mean year\month\weekly. The confusion causes inconsistencies in how different respondent’s assign meaning to and answer the question 3. Avoid emotional language: words have implicit connotative as well as explicit denotative meanings. Use neutral language 4. Avoid presenting bias: titles or positions in society carry prestige or status – avoid associating this to a person or group 5. Avoid double-barrelled questions: consists of two or more questions joined together. It makes a respondents answers ambiguous 6. Do not confuse beliefs with reality: Do not confuse what a respondent believes with what the researchers measures. 7. Avoid leading questions: A leading question is one that leads the respondent to choose one response over another by its wording. Loaded questions can be states to get either positive or negative answers. 8. Avoid asking questions that are beyond the respondent’s capabilities: frustrates the respondent and produces a poor quality response. Phrase questions in the term sin which respondents think 9. Avoid false premises: do not begin a question with a premise with which respondents may not agreement then ask about choices regarding it. A better question is to ask the respondent to assume a premise is true, then ask for a preference 10. Avoid asking intentions in the distant future: Responses are poor predictors of behaviour removed data from their current situation or fair in the future 11. Avoid double negatives: 12. Avoid overlapping or unbalanced response categories: Make response categories or choices mutually exclusive, exhaustive and balanced. Mutually exclusive means that response categories do not overlap. Overlapping categories that are numerical can be easily corrected. Keep responses balanced Aiding Respondent Recall  Recalling events takes more time than the respondents answering the questions  Ones ability to recall accurately declines over time  Survey researchers recognize that memory is less trustworthy than was once assumed- it is affected by many factors- the topic, events etc  The complexity of respondent recall does not that they cannot ask them about past events, they just need to customize the situation and interpret them cautiously Types of Questions and Response Categories: (1) Threatening Questions: sometimes there are sensitive issues that respondents may believe threaten their presentation of self such as questions about sexual behaviour, drug or alcohol use. They may be reluctant to answer these questions truthfully. Respondents try to present a positive image of themselves to others. They may underreport ot self censor reports of behaviours of attitudes they wish to hide or believe to be in violation od social norms. People are likely to underreport having an illness, engaging in deviant behaviour, or revealing their financial status. Some techniques to increase the truthfulness of these questions is to re-word these question in a warm way, develop rapport. (2) Socially desirable questions: Social desirability bias occurs when respondents distort answers to make their reports conform to social norms—they over report high status things within society- (giving to charity) (3) Knowledge Questions: Researchers sometimes want to find out whether respondents know about an issue ot topic, but knowledge questions can be threatening because respondents do not want to appear ignorant. (4) Skip or contingency questions: Researchers avoid asking questions that are irrelevant for a respondent. A contingency question is a two-part question. The answer to the first part of the question determines which of two different questions a respondent next receives. Contingency questions select respondents for whom a section selection is (5) Open vs. Closed questions: a. Close ended questions (structured, fixed response) question both asks a question and gives the respondent fixed responses from which to choose b. A open ended (unstructured, free response) question asks a question to which respondents can give any answer c. The demands of using open-ended questions, with interviewers shows that there is more time d. Large scale surveys have close ended questions because they are quicker and easier e. Large scale surveys have close ended questions because they are quicker and easier for the respondent and researcher- although beliefs may be lost when you put all beliefs into the groups created Advantages of Closed-ended questions  It is easier and quicker for respondents to answer  The answer of different respondents are easier to compare  Answers are easier to code and analyze  The response choices can clarify meaning  Respondents are more likely to answer about sensitive topics  There are fewer irrelevant or confused answers to questions  Less articulate or less literate respondents are not at a disadvantage  Replication is easier Disadvantages of Closed  They can suggest ideas that the respondent would not otherwise have  Respondents with no opinion can answer  Respondents can be frustrated that they have no desired choice  It can be confusing  Misinterpretation of a question can go unnoticed  Distinctions between respondent answers may be blurred  They force respondents to give simple answers  They force people to make choices they would not make in the real world Advantage of Open  They permit an unlimited number of possible answers  Respondents can answer in detail and can qualify and clarify responses  Unanticipated findings can be discovered  They reveal a respondents logic, thinking process and frame of reference  Valuable in the exploratory stage of research Disadvantages of Open  Different respondents give different degrees of details in answers  Responses may be irrelevant  Comparisons become difficult  Coding becomes difficult  Questions may be too general for respondents who lose direction  A great amount of time and thought is needed  Takes up space Non-attitudes and the Middle Positions Two types of errors can be made when an individual responds to a neutral, middle and non attitude answer. 1. Acc
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