SOC202H1 Chapter Notes -Norm (Social), Scientific Method, Descriptive Statistics

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5 Feb 2013
FIELD OF STATISTICS set of procedures for gathers, measuring,
classifying, coding, computing, analyzing and summarizing systematically
acquired numerical information
o Goal: balanced perspective w/ precision in gathering/presenting info
Counters perceptions of reality distorted by subjective feelings,
biases, prejudices
Linking the Statistical Imagination to the Sociological Imagination
Sociological Imagination An awareness of relationships of the individual
to the wider society and to history
o Recognize individual behavior is conducted in relationship to larger
social structures
o i.e. see isolated detail as part of larger picture
STATISTICAL IMAGINATION Appreciate how usual/usual an event,
circumstance, or behavior is in relation to a larger set of similar events and
an appreciation of an event’s causes and consequences
o Involve prediction, inference, probabilistic thinking,
o Req. keep track of details minimize error
o Understand most events are predictable
Occurrence probability based on long-term trends/circumstances
o Understand broader picture of reality, to overcome
misunderstandings, prejudices, narrow-mindedness
Statistical interpretation must take into account circumstances of a
phenomenon, incl. social values of society or groups w/i it
o Social values may limit/enlarge human response to a statistic
o Normative Statistic culturally bound, its interpretation depends on
the place, time and culture in which it is observed
o Social Norm a shared idea of the behavior that is appropriate or
inappropriate in a given situation in a given culture
Statistical Norm a phenomenon’s average rate of occurrence
o Differ btwn societies, groups b/c influenced by social norm
o An existent average
o Ex. US IMRs high amongst MEDCs, low amongst all nations
Statistical Ideal a phenomenon’s socially desired rate of occurrence
o Influence by Social Values Shared ideas among the members of a
society about the way things ought to be
Ex. States: freedom, equality, material comfort
o Often substitute statistical norms
o Statistical ideal debates may reveal underlying conflicts/opinions on
social values
Statistics and Sciences: Tools for Proportional Thinking
STATISTICS observing & organizing systematically acquired numerical info
o Statistics gathering follow carefully controlled procedures
Need sample proportional to entire study population
Data systematically acquired information that is organized by following
procedures of science and statistics
Statistical analysis vital to scientific method
o Follow procedures, make precise measurements of & accurate
prediction on events
o Always incl. knowing limitations of reasoning & mathematical
procedures influence on predictions
Statistics results w/ range of error, degree of confidence
o STATISTICAL ERROR know degrees of imprecision in the procedures
used to gather and process information
Descriptive Statistics how many observations were recorded & how
frequently each score or category of observation occurred in the data
Inferential Statistics show cause-and-effect relationships and to test
hypotheses and scientific theories
draw conclusions on something
o Computed descriptive statistics
Science a systematic method of explaining empirical phenomena
o Empirical observable and measurable
o Social science use w/ indirect measurements b/c intangible focuses
Ex. survey questionnaires to measure opinions, knowledge,
attitudes, behavior
o Scientific Theory a set of interrelated, logically organized statements
that explain a phenomenon of special interest and that have been
corroborated through observation and analysis
Theories describes situations, organized explanation of facts
Ideas constituting a theory is tested vs. observable facts
Corroborated theory = its ideas successfully predict
observable facts
Adequate scientific theory accomplishes:
1. Provide understanding of phenomenon: how, when,
why, occurs under what conditions
2. Allows make empirical predictions, w/ similar cases
o Scientists also skeptics: req. critical & doubting attitude
Tolerate uncertainty & not draw quick conclusions
Informed Common Sense used in science, that which is
weighed and double check against carefully gather data
VARIABLES measurable phenomena that vary (changes) over time or that
differs btwn places & individuals
o Represented by capital English letters ex. X = gender
o Subjects’ feature, where subject = people or objects
o Variation how much the measurement of a variable differ among
study subjects
o Constants characteristic of study subjects that do not vary
Could be intentional as control variables, isolate effects
o Dependent Variable want to explain this variable’s variation
o Independent Variable predictor variables that are related to/predict
variation in the DV
o HYPOTHESIS a predication about the relationship of two variables,
asserting that differences among the measurements of an IV will
correspond to differences among the measurements of a DV
Myth widely held beliefs that are false
Research Process
o 1. Specify the Research Question
o 2. Review the Scientific Literature
Check propose research is not redundant/overlap
o 3. Propose a theory and state hypotheses
Hypotheses generated by theory, establish facts in scientific lit.
If research outcomes match theory direct data expectations, then
theory corroborated
Exploratory Studies solve immediate practical problem, explore
new phenomena that’s unknown w/ no theoretical basis
Use loose organize ideas/question, doesn’t employ theory
o 4. Select a Research Design
o 5. Collect Data
o 6. Analyze the data and draw conclusions our concern
o 7. Disseminate the results, to public & scientific community
Publication process incl. strenuous peer review w/ checks &
balances, ensure accurate/un-bias
Proportional Thinking: Calculating Proportions, Percentages, Rates
Proportional Thinking weighing the part against the whole, calculating
the likelihood of the phenomenon occurring over the long run
Mathematical Proportions division problems that weight a part (the
numerator) against a whole (the denominator)
o FRACTION a way of expressing what part of the whole (or total
number) a category of observations constitutes
PROPORTION (p) part of the total amount or number of observation,
expressed in decimal form; denominator out of 1
o PERCENTAGE (%) a proportion multiply by 100; denominator of 100
RATE OF OCCURRENCE the frequency of occurrences of a pheromone in
relation to some specified, useful “base” number of subjects in a population
   
p = proportion of total group in a category
o ex. p = 0.00000018, then:
p(10 million) = 1.8 per 10million
The Problem of Small Denominators
Percentage change
     
 
o If initial sample small, small changes would appear large
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