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Chapter 2

PSY3121 Chapter 2: Researching Sex and Gender notes

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University of Ottawa
Evelyne Girard

Biological essentialism: the tendency to focus on innate differences and to downplay social factors when it comes to explaining gender differences. • This is one way that people maintain stereotypes and prejudice. Empirical observation: collecting information through direct observation. • Instead of looking to religion and the Bible, science began to gather knowledge through th observation in the 19 century. • This view represented a radical departure from traditional thought. • This view assumed that the world works by a set of natural laws and that these laws can be discovered through careful, objective investigation. • Gathers information through evidence from the senses. • Rejects information based on authority. • Scientific observation requires objectivity: the notion that the observation is free of bias by the observer. o Scientists must be objective and not allow their personal feelings and biases affect the research. Quantitative research: research that uses numerical data and statistical analysis. • Follows the empiricist approach to research, which includes observation and data collection. • Follows the procedure of quantification: the process of turning observations into numerical data. o Quantification does not make science precise; it really does the opposite, omitting some aspects of the situation and concentrating on only one. • Numbers are the data for quantitative research. o Data: representations, usually in numerical form, of some facet of the phenomenon that the researcher observes. • Scientific information must be observable not only to the researcher but also to others,; that is, it must be observable by anyone. • Working with observable information and adopting a systemic plan to gather data are strategies to help researchers minimize bias. • Quantitative research typically includes only a few variables, and this restriction limits what researchers know about a situation. o Variable: a factor of interest to researchers; something that can have more than one value as opposed to a constant, which has only one constant value. • Quantitative research can be divided into two types: experimental and descriptive. • Some scholars have claimed that quantitative research fails to capture important aspects of the situations under study; that is, something is lost in the process of turning observations into numbers. • Examples of quantitative research: o Experimental designs o Ex post facto studies o Descriptive research methods  Surveys  Correlational studies Qualitative research: research that focuses on understanding complexity and context rather than distilling situations to sets of numbers. • Researchers who use qualitative research methods often believe that the quantification process removes important information. • Qualitative researchers do not reduce their data to numbers. • This method makes statistical analysis difficult or impossible. • Qualitative researchers reject the notion of objectivity; instead, they accept the subjectivity of the research process and attempt to form cooperative relationships with those whom they study. o By interacting with research participants as equals, they try to understand the meaning and context of the phenomena they study. • Examples of qualitative research: o Case studies o Interviews o Ethnography o Focus groups Comparison of Quantitative and Qualitative Research Quantitative Researchers Qualitative Researchers Often work in laboratories Rarely work in laboratories Strive to detach themselves from the situation Immerse themselves in the situation and accept to attain objectivity subjectivity as part of the process Attempt to study a representative group of May seek unusual individuals because they are individuals to be able to generalize interesting cases Create a distinction between researchers and Treat participants as equals participants Collect data in the form of numbers Collect information that is not reduced to numbers Attempt to control the influence of variables Attempt to understand the complexity of the other than the IV(s) situation as it exists Use statistics to analyze their data Do not use statistics to analyze their information. Dependent variable (DV): the factor in an experiment that the experimenter measures to determine whether the manipulation of the independent variable has an effect. • In psychology, DVs are always some type of behavior or response. Independent variable (IV): the factor in an experiment that the experimenter manipulates to create a difference that did not previously exist in the participants. Experimental designs: a type of study in which a researcher manipulates an IV and observes the changes in a DV; only through experiments can researchers learn about cause-and-effect relationships. • Helps researchers answer “why” questions. • An experiment involves the manipulation on one factor (the IV), while attempting the measurement of another factor (the DV), while attempting to hold all other factors constant. o By manipulating the IV, the experimenter tries to create a change in the value of the DV. o By holding all other factors constant, the experimenter restricts the change in the DV to the manipulation of the IV. • Detecting change requires some basis for comparison, so the simplest version of an experiment requires two conditions. • In psychology, DVs are always some type of behavior or response. • Logic of experimental design: manipulating the IV should produce a change in the value of the DV if the two are causally related. • An example of an experiment on the topic of sexual orientation is difficult to devise because sexual orientation is no available as an IV – researchers cannot change participants’sexual orientation for the purposes on an experiment. • Almost all experiments take place in laboratories because any one change in a naturalistic setting would result in many other changes. o These settings offer the possibility of necessary control, but they open experiments to criticism of artificiality.  The laboratory situation many prompt different behavior than would occur in a more realistic context.  This possibility limits the extent to which researchers can generalize their results to other situations. • This method allows conclusions to be made about causality, so this method is prized above other methods. • Concentrates on comparisons and differences. Ex post facto (quasi-experimental) studies: a type of non-experimental research design that involves the comparison of subjects, who are placed in contrast groups, on the basis of some pre- existing characteristic of the subjects. • Done when researchers cannot perform experiments for either practical or ethical reasons. o Examples: experiment on sexual orientation or the effect of brain damage on memory. • Subject variable (participant variable): a characteristic of the subjects, such as gender (or sexual orientation), that allows researchers to form contrast groups in quasi- experimental studies. • Researchers enter the picture after the manipulation had occurred. With no opportunity for precision in creating the values of the IV or in holding other factors constant, the ex post facto study lacks the controls on an experiment that would allow researchers to draw conclusions about cause-and-effect relationships. • Concentrates on comparisons and differences. • **Read Maccoby & Jacklin (1974). The Psychology of Sex Differences, a classic in research review on gender-related differences on page 26. • **Read Berg & Lien (2002): comparing heterosexual and nonheterosexuals (subject variable) in terms of income (dependent variable). Example of ex-post-facto design on pages 26-27. Experimental design vs. Ex post facto design: • In an experimental design, researchers often randomly divide the participants into groups in order to keep individual differences equal among groups. Random assignment would be very unlikely to yield groups based on sexual orientation. • The ex post facto design, on the other hand, assigns participants to groups on the basis of some factor that the participants already possess, such as sexual orientation or gender. In this type of design, the researcher might have one group consisting of women and another of men. • Ex post facto designs can example gender as a subject variable, experimental studies can study gender as a social category to which participants react, and studies can use gender as a subject variable combined with additional manipulated IVs. Descriptive research methods: a group of research methods, including naturalistic observation, surveys, and correlational studies that yield descriptions of the observed phenomena. • Helps investigators answer “what” questions. • Do not reveal why the relationship exists. • Includes: o Surveys o Correlational studies Surveys: a descriptive research method involving the measurement of attitudes through the administration and interpretation of questionnaires. • Adescriptive research method • Researchers construct a questionnaire, choose a group of people to respond to the questionnaire, collect the data, and analyze the data to yield results. • This method seems simple, but researchers using this method must decide about: the wording of questions, the answer format, the appearance of the questionnaire, the choice of people responding, the number of people needed, and the method of administration. • Main limitation of this method: surveys pose questions rather than make direct measurements. o Surveys rely on self-reports rather than direct observations of behavior, which requires participants to be both honest when they are asked about their attitudes and opinions and to have a good memory when they are asked to report on past behavior. o People may lie, withhold the truth, or forget information. • In addition, participants’beliefs about social standards and their tendency to present themselves in a favorable way are biases that can invalidate a question or even an entire survey. • Advantages: allow researchers to ask people about things that the researchers could not easily (or possibly ethically) observe directly. o Thus, the method is flexible and useful in a variety of situations. • Used for measuring people’s attitudes. • Do not reveal why the relationship exists. • **Read Brown et al (2004): campus climate and sexual orientation study on pages 28-29. Correlational studies: a descriptive research method that requires researchers to measure two factors known to occur within a group of people to determine the degree of relationship between the two factors. • Adescriptive research method. • Researchers use this research method when they want to know about the relationship between two specific variables rather than information about several variables. • Allow researchers to determine both the strength and types of relationships between the variables under study. • To conduct a correlational study, researchers must choose two variables, create an operational definition of the variables, measure these variables, and then analyze the relationship between them. • To perform the analysis of data, researchers calculate a correlation coefficient by analyzing their data using the correlation coefficient formula. • The results reveal the strength or magnitude of the relationship between two variables. • Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient: o Symbolized by the letter r. o Results of analysis yield a number that varies between r = +1.00 and r = -1.00. o Correlations that are close to r = +1.00 indicate a strong positive relationship, which means that as scores on one variable increase, those on the other also increase. o Correlations that are close to r = -1.00 indicate a strong negative relationship, which means that as one measurement increases, the other decreases. o Correlations that are close to r = 0.00 indicate little or no relationship between the two variables. • Do not reveal why the re
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