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Chapter 8

PSYB01H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 8: Confidence Interval, Stratified Sampling, Repeated Measures Design

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Anna Nagy

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Week 08 Reading Notes
Chapter 7: Asking People About Themselves: Survey
SURVEY RESEARCH: uses questionnaires and interview to ask people to
provide info about themselves their attitudes and beliefs, demographics
(age, sex, income, marital status, etc.) and other facts, and past or intended
future behaviours
Researchers from qualitative and quantitative appoahes use surveys to
collect data
The kinds of questions asked and what researchers do with the data will
differ depending on the approach
Why Conduct Surveys?
A multitude of surveys are being collected all the time
Surveys are a common and imp method of studying behaviour as they
provide us with a method for asking people to tell us about themselves
They’ve become extremely imp as society demands data about issues rather
than only intuition and anecdotes
Without collecting fata, we’re totally dependent upon stories or letters
Other surveys can be imp or lawmakers and public agencies when making
public policy decisions
o Data are used by the govt and schools to create effective policies and
In basic research, many imp variables, including attitudes, current emotional
states, and self-reports of behaviours, are easily studied using questionnaires
or interviews
The survey method allows researchers to study relas among variables and
ways that attitudes and behaviours change over time or among diff groups of
Survey research complements experimental research findings
Mult methods are needed to understand any behaviour and surveys are a
useful starting point to explore this phenomenon
An assumption that underlies the use of questionnaires and interviews is that
people are willing and able to provide truthful and accurate answers
o This is has been debated over the value of survey research
o Researchers have addressed this issue by studying possible biases in
the way people respond
RESPONSE SET: a tendency to respond to all questions from a particular
perspective rather than to provide answers that are directly related to the
o Can reduce the usefulness of data obtained from self-reports
People from diff cultural backgrounds can differ in how they use scales
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Most common response set is social desirability (faking good)
SOCIAL DESIRABILITY RESPONSE SET leads person to answer in the most
socially acceptable way (they way the person thinks most people would
respond or the way that would reflect most favourably on the person)
o Can be a prob in many research areas, but most acute when the
question concerns a sensitive topic like violent or aggressive
behaviour, substance abuse, or sexual practices
Some scales can measure the extent to which people are trying to present
themselves in a favourable way
Social desirable response bias can be operationally defines as the extent to
which people claim familiarity with fake facts that are hidden in longer lists
of true facts across a variety of domains
Researchers can use their method to detect which participants may be
showing a social desirability response set
People are most likely to lie when they don’t trust the researcher
o If the researcher openly and honestly communicates the purposes and
uses of the research, promises to provide feedback about the results,
and assures confidentiality, then the participants can reasonably be
expected to give honest responses
It’s preferable to try to fund surveys that have been used and validated by
other researcher but it’s sometimes necessary to construct them for a
particular purpose
Constructing Questions to Ask
A lot of thought must be given to writing questions for questionnaires and
Defining the Research Objectives
When constructing questions for a surveys, researcher must first explicitly
determine the research objectives:
The survey questions must be tied to the research questions that are being
Surveys get out of hand when researchers begin to ask any question that
comes to mind about a topic without considering exactly what useful info will
be gained by doing so
The researcher must decide on the type of questions to ask (3 diff types)
Attitudes and Beliefs
Questions about attitudes and beliefs ous on the ways that people evaluate
and think about issues
o i.e. are you satisfied with the way that police responded to your call?
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Facts and Demographics
Factual questions ask people to indicate things they know about themselves
and their situation
In most studies, asking some demographic info (i.e. age, gender) is necessary
to adequately describe your sample
Depending on the topic of study, questions on info like ethnicity, income,
marital status, employment status, and number of siblings might be included
If you’re interested in making comparisons among groups, you must ask
relevant info about group membership (i.e. which sex?)
It’s potentially unethical to ask questions if you have no real reason to use
the info
Other factual info you might ask will depend on the topic of the survey
Other survey questions can focus on past behaviours or intended future
o i.e. how many kids do you plan on having? How many times have you
exercised this week?
Question Wording
Number of potential probs with question wording stemming from difficulties
with understanding the question, including unfamiliar technical terms, vague
or imprecise terms, ungrammatical sentence structure, phrasing that
overloads working memory, and embedding the question with misleading
Unnecessary Complexity
The questions asked in a survey should be relatively simple People should
be able to easily understand and respond to the questions
o Avoid jargon and technical terms that people won’t understand
Sometimes you may have to make the question a bit more complex to make it
easier to understand usually occurs when you need to define a term or
describe an issue prior to asking the question
Double-Barrelled Questions
Avoid double-barrelled questions that ask 2 things at once if you’re
interested in both issues, split it up and ask 2 separate questions
Loaded Questions
A loaded question is written to lead people to respond in one way
Questions that include emotionally charged words like rape, waste, immoral,
or dangerous may influence the way that people respond and may lead to
biased conclusions
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