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Chapter 3

Psychology 2075 Chapter Notes - Chapter 3: Human Sexuality, Convenience Sampling, Foreplay

Course Code
PSYCH 2075

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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
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
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
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

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o a method for obtaining a sample is adopted
o and the people in the sample are contacted and asked to
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
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
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
Difficulties with estimates
o when asked subjects how long they engage in precoital
foreplay there estimates were drastically different then there

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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 selfreports
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
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
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