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Chapter 7

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Anna Nagy

Lecture 7 Chapter 7: Surveys Why Conduct Surveys? - provide us with a methodology for asking people to tell us about themselves o without collecting data, we are totally dependent upon stories we might hear or letters that a e.g. graduate or customer might write - important for making public policy decisions - way of studying relationships among variables and ways that attitudes and behaviors change over time - complement to experimental research findings o multiple methods are needed to understand any behavior - responding to biases in the way people respond o response set – tendency to respond to all questions from a particular perspective rather than to provide answers that are directly related to the questions o can affect the usefulness of obtained data o most common = “faking good” or social desirability  leads to individual to answer in the most socially acceptable way/ most people are perceived to respond  We should assume that most people don’t misinterpret themselves if they trust the researchers! Constructing Questions to Ask Defining the research objectives - explicitly determine the research objectives - questions need to be exclusively about the research and its objectives Three types of survey questions 1. attitudes and beliefs - focus on the ways that people evaluate and think about issues 2. Facts and Demographics - ask people to indicate things they know about themselves - necessary to adequately describe your sample - age and gender & sometimes: ethnicity, income, marital status, employment status and number of children - will greatly depend on the topic of your survey 3. Behaviors - past behaviors or intended future behaviors - e.g. How many times last week did you exercise for 20 mins? 1 Question Wording - problems: o 1. Unfamiliar technical terms o 2. Vague or imprecise terms o 3. Ungrammatical sentence structure o 4. Phrasing that overloads working memory o 5. Embedding the question with misleading information o e.g. Did your mother, father, full-blooded sisters, full-blooded brothers, or sons ever have a heart attack or myocardial infarction? - Problems: Items important: o Simplicity  avoid jargon and technical terms that people won’t understand  may need to provide brief description of the content before asking the question o Double-barreled Questions  Asking two things at once  Ask two questions instead o Loaded Questions  are written to lead people to respond in one way  e.g. questions that include emotionally charged words such as rape, waste, etc may influence the way that people respond and thus lead to biased conclusions o Negative Wording  Avoid phrasing questions with negatives  Can confuse people and result in inaccurate answers o “yea-saying” and “nay-saying”  possibility that a respondent will employ a response set to agree or disagree with all questions  may simply be agreeing with anything you say  one way to detect this: to word the questions so that consistent agreement is unlikely  e.g. how much you agree “the members of my family spend a lot of time together”  consistently agreeing (yea-saying) or disagreeing (nay-saying) with a set of related questions phrased in both standard and reversed formats is an indicator that the individual is yea-saying or nay- saying. Responses to Questions Closed- VS Open-Ended Questions Closed-Ended questions Open-ended Questions Limited number of response alternatives Can yield valuable insights into what are given people are thinking More structured approach 2 Easier to code Most useful: what people are thinking and how they naturally view their world Response alternatives are the same for Responses sometimes can’t be categorized everyone at all. Types of questions: nominal, ordinal, interval and semantic Number of Response Alternatives - public opinions: yes or no agree or disagree are both sufficient sometimes - more basic research: 5- or 7- point scale (strongly agree…strongly disagree) Rating Scales - asked to provide how much judgments on any umber of dimensions - e.g. amount of agreement, liking, or confidence - format depends on factors such as topic being investigated - simplest/most direct scale = 5 or 7 response alternatives with endpoints Graphic Rating Scale - requires a mark along a continuous 100-millimeter line that is anchored with descriptions at each end - a ruler is then placed on the line to obtain the score on a scale that ranges from 0 to 100. - E.g. How would you rate the movie? Not very enjoyable ____________________________________ Very enjoyable Semantic Differential Scale - measure of meaning of concepts (by Osgood, et.al.) - on a series of bipolar adjectives using 7-point scale - e.g. good _ _ _ _ bad; strong _ _ _ _ _ weak - 3 basic dimensions: - evaluation (good-bad); - activity (slow-fast); - potency (weak-strong) Nonverbal Scale for Children - e.g. point to the face that shows how you feel about the toy -      Labeling Response alternatives - respondents decide the meaning of the other response alternatives - e.g. strongly agree ---- undecided ----- strongly disagree (middle response is a neutral point) - perfectly balance scale may not be possible or desirable - can
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