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Chapter 3

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Psychology 2075

Chapter 3: Sex research 10/12/2012 6:33:00 PM  Sex research can be used to obtain knowledge about a topic (like how many 15 year olds are engaged in sexual activity)  It can also be used to enhance our understanding in order to influence sexual behaviour Different techniques when it comes to sex research:  1. Whether they rely on peoples self reports of their sexual behaviour or whether the scientist observes the sexual behaviour directly  2. Whether large numbers of people are studied (surveys) or whether a small number or just a single individual studied  3. Whether the studies are conducted in the laboratory or on the field  4. Whether sexual behaviour is studied simply as it occurs naturally or whether some attempt is made to manipulate it experimentally Issues in sex research Sampling  identify the population: a group of people a researcher wants to study and make inferences about  a sample is then taken from the population o a sample is a part of the population  probability sampling: a method of sampling in research, in which each member of the population has an equal chance of being included in the sample o a form of probability sampling is random sampling o random sampling: an excellent method of sampling in research in which each member of the population has an equal chance of being included in the sample o stratified random sampling: a method of sampling in which the population in which the population is divided into groups and then random sampling occurs in each group  typically sampling occurs in three phases o the population is identified o a method for obtaining a sample is adopted o and the people in the sample are contacted and asked to participate  problem of refusal or non-response: the problem that some people will refuse to participate in a sex survey, thus making it difficult to have a random sample  volunteer bias: a bias in the result of sex surveys that arises when some people refuse to participate so that those who are in the sample are volunteers who may in some ways differ from those who refuse to participate  convenience sample: a sample chosen in a haphazard manner relative to the population of interest. Not a random or probability sample Accuracy of self reports of sexual behaviour  Purposeful distortion o purposely giving false information in a survey o people can over exaggerate or hide their sexual behaviour to fit what they think is acceptable to the researcher this is called social desirability (the tendency to distort answers to a survey in the direction perceived to be more acceptable o There are many things that could change what a person will say to a experimenter like inaccurate memory, difficulties with estimates and interpreting the question differently than the researcher intended  Memory o people have a hard time remembering what their sexual behaviour was like 30 years ago, so you ask people what there sexual behaviour is like at the current time o another method is to have people right down what they feel an do (regarding their sexual behaviour) on a day to day basis  Difficulties with estimates o when asked subjects how long they engage in precoital foreplay there estimates were drastically different then there partners o people have a hard time making a correct estimate of time  Interpreting the question o people have a different definition of sexual partners, so if a researcher asked a person how many sexual partner have you had, answers would vary because they think that people that they have engaged in oral sex with counts  Evidence of the reliability of self–reports o Test-retest ability: a method for testing whether self-reports are reliable or accurate; participants are interviewed (or given a questionnaire) and then interviewed a second time some time later to determine whether their answers are the same both times o If the answer is the same as the first time, then there is a correlation of 1 if there is absolutely no correlation then the relationship is 0 o Another way to do this is to ask two people that are in a relationship separately and see the correlation Interviews versus questionnaires  Advantages of the interview method: o The interview can establish rapport with the respondent and can express the importance of being honest with them o Also the experimenter can order the questions the way that they want to and omit the questions that aren’t relevant to the responder o The experimenter can also give the questionnaire to people that are blind and or deaf  Riskier sexual behaviour is more likely to be answered on a questionnaire because the respondent feels that they have more privacy  Computer-assisted self-interview method (CASI): a method of data collection in which the respondent fills out questionnaires on a computer. Headphones and a soundtrack reading the questions can be added for young children or poor readers o It seems as though people can be more open and honest with this but it is also possible that people are more prone to exaggerate online Web-based survey’s  They can recruit much larger samples  They can also produce broader samples  Has the advantage for questioning gays and lesbians if they do not want to come out- answering an online survey allows them to answer the questions but stay anonymous  Being anonymous allows the respondent allows them to answer however they choose, without pressures from outlying factors  The disadvantages include that most people that have internet access have above average incomes, creating bias Self-reports versus direct observations  Self reports can be inaccurate because people can’t remember perfectly what has happened in their past and they make mistake  Direct observations: can be timely and costly  Observations also have the disadvantage that sex in the laboratory and sex in the bedroom may be different Extraneous factors  Basic factors like race, age, gender may influence the outcome of sex research Ethical issues  Above all researchers need to remember to respect human dignity  Free and informed consent o An ethical principal in research, in which people have a right to be informed, before participating, of what they will be asked to do in the research o People do not have to participate, if they are underage there parents/guardians must give consent for the child. People should not be coerced into participating (no benefit to them like a bribe)  Protection from harm o Re
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