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Chapter 3

Chapter 3- Sex Research.docx

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Psychology 2075
Hayden Woodley

Chapter 3: Sex Research  Still don’t know that much about human sexuality  Goals of sex research: o 1) Geared towards creating basic knowledge and understanding o 2) Geared toward enhancing our understanding in order to influence sexual behaviour  prevent child abuse or help people achieve sexual satisfaction in long term relationships o 3) Can be geared toward public policy  sex health in schools or emergency contraception, porn and sex work  Research varies in the following ways: o 1) Whether they rely on people’s self-reports of sexual behaviour or observe it directly o 2) Whether large numbers of people are studied or small or just one o 3) Whether case studies are studied in lab or field o 4) Whether sex is being studied naturally or someone’s manipulating it Issues in Sex Research Sampling  First step is to identify the appropriate population: A group of people a researcher wants to study and make inferences about  Generally can’t study whole population so choose a sample: A part of population  If it’s a representative sample with a lot of people, generally it will be generalizable  A representative sample can be obtained by using:  Probability Sampling: Each member has a known probability of being included in the sample o Random sampling: Simplest form of PS is random sampling: An excellent method, in which each member of population has an equal chance of being included in the sample (1 out of every 50 kids in Canada  safe to say rep of all kids in Canada) o Stratified Sampling: A method of sampling in which the population is divided into groups and then random sampling occurs in each group  Three phases of sampling: o 1) Population is identified o 2) A method for attaining sample is adopted and people contacted o 3) Hardest  getting the people in sample to participate  If any refuse, probability sample is ruined  Problem of refusal or non-response: The problem that some people will refuse to participate in the sex survey, thus making it hard to have a random sample  Leads to Volunteer Bias  A bias in the results 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 refused to participate o Tend to have more permissive attitudes and more experienced than those who refuse to participate, masturbate more and have more sexual partners o Women less likely to volunteer in some studies, so female samples even more highly selected than men’s o So volunteer bias big problem in reaching conclusions  Convenience Sample: A sample chosen in a haphazard manner relative to the population of interest. Not a random or probability sample. o Report more activity than there actually is o Janus report vs. University of Chicago probability sample Accuracy of Self-Reports of Sexual behaviour  Most don’t observe sex acts Purposeful Distortion  Purposefully giving false information in a survey o May exaggerate their sexual activity  enlargement o Or minimize sexual activity  Concealment  Social Desirability The tendency to distort answers in a survey in the direction perceived to be more acceptable (most not aware this is effecting them)  Must tell them that for scientific reasons it must be as accurate as possible  And told its completely anonymous  But self reports may still be inaccurate b/c of: memory, estimates, interpreting the question in a different way than researcher intended Memory  Some asks to remember as far back as childhood  Cant really ask kids about sexual behaviour  not ethical  People struggle to remember current information (sex in last month)  Can use the diary method in which people record their behaviour everyday or 2 Difficulties with Estimates  Example  how long do you spend in foreplay?  Men estimates 13.4mins  Women said 11.3mins  Sex – 7-8 minutes  They just cant really estimate accurately Interpreting the Question  How many sexual partners have you had?  2/3 University kids included oral sex partners Evidence of the Reliability of Self-Reports  Test-Retest  A method for testing whether self-reports are reliable or accurate; participants are interviewed (or questionnaire) and then interviewed a second time some time later to determine whether their answers are the same both times  1 correlation is good, 0 no correlation  Or can gain independent reports from 2 different people who share a sexual activity o Like husband and wife o Quite a high level of agreement in everything Interviews versus Questionnaires  3 methods have been used in big sex studies: o Face to face interview o Phone interview o Written questionnaire  Advantages of Interview: o Establish rapport  worth being honest o Vary sequence of questioning depending on responses o Can test people who cannot read or write o But may be insecure because its not anonymous  Rate of reporting rape was double in interview compared to telephone  So more trust face to face  Riskier behaviours more likely to be reported in questionnaire than interview  So should combine both  Computer Assisted Self-Interview Method  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 Can follow sequences based on answers Web-Based Surveys  Opened a whole new era in sex research  Many advantages: o Can recruit much larger sample in short time o Broader samples o People skip questions less online o Good for studying specific populations defined by their sexual behaviour  gays, lesbians o Can also locate stigmatized sexual minorities such as those involved in sadomasochism, bondage and discipline by recruiting through virtual websites or forums o Can eliminate extraneous influences of responding (gender, race) o Can be used for diary studies  Disadvantages: o Still rely on self reports o Some bias  not everyone has access to computers o Lack control of the environment in which they complete the survey (kids laughing at survey) o BUT internal checks can be built in to detect fake answers  Still great over traditional surveys Self-Reports versus Direct Observations  Self-reports may be inaccurate  Observations huge advantage in that they are accurate  BUT o Expensive and time consuming and smaller sample o Harder to get representative sample(unusual group that are down to have their sex watched)  Have lower sexual guilt, more sexually experienced  Only 27% of men and 7% of women volunteered  So very selective sample o And is sexual behaviour in lab, same as in bedroom?  Could be inhibited Extraneous Factors  Factors such as gender, race or age of interviewer may influence outcome  Wording in questionnaires  supportive or standard questions o Increased honesty with supportive from 12% to 16% if interviewer was same gender as person  So need to control these factors Ethical Issues  More with sex research b/c way more personal  Must conform to policy established by Federal government  Most important one is respect for human dignity Free and Informed Consent  An ethical principle in research in which people have a right to be informed, before participating of what they will be asked to do in research  Consent given by parents for young kids  Adopted in 1970s  Was violated in some of the earlier sex studies Protection from Harm  Should minimize amount of physical and psychological stress  Needs to be very good reason for shocking someone  Make sure responses are anonymous  Make sure they will not suffer after leaving Justice  The Justice Principle  An ethical principle in research which holds that the risks of participation should be distributed fairly across groups in society, as should the benefits  Early research on b/c used poor women not wealthy  And aspirin in preventing heart attacks only given to men  benefit not distributed evenly  Need to benefit as many people as possible Balancing Harms and Benefits  An approach to analyzing the ethics of a research study, based on weighing the harms of the research (such as stress to subjects) against the benefits of the research (gaining knowledge about human sexuality)  Will participant benefit; will scientist and society benefit from study? Do they outweigh potential harms? If so they may commence with the research  “The Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male” did not follow this done by the US government  399 poor, uneducated African men living in rural area of Alabama  No informed consent was given, they did not get the treatment they were promised and were coerced (hot meals, burial insurance) to continue  When penicillin became available they were denied access to it and warned against it  We learned a lot but harm outweighed the benefits  1997 Bill Clinton formal apology for the wrongs done to those men Some Statistical Concepts Average  How often on average these people engage in an activity  Use either the mean or the median  Mode  greatest number of responses (most frequent score) Variability  How much variability there is from one respondent to the next  Depends on range you use  In sex there’s a great deal of variability Averages versus Normal  We say what the average is in sex, but people confuse this to mean normal  Too much variability in sexual behaviour, that any behaviour within a wide range is normal Incidence versus Frequency  Incidence  The % of people giving a particular response  Frequency  How often a person does something  So could say incidence of male masturbation is 92% (meaning done it once in life)  Or average frequency could be about once per week  Cumulative Incidence  % people who have engaged in activity before a certain time  Begin in lower left hand corner and then move toward upper right corner Correlation  A number that measures the relationship between two var
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