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The Practice of Social Research

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Title: The Practice of Social Research Author: Aurea K Osgood Last modified by: T.L. Warburton Created Date: 9/11/2008 2:35:26 PM Document presentation format – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Practice of Social Research


1
The Practice of Social Research
  • Chapter 5 Conceptualization, Operationalization,
    and Measurement

2
Chapter Outline
  • Measuring Anything That Exists
  • Conceptualization
  • Definitions in Descriptive and Explanatory
    Studies
  • Operationalization Choices
  • Criteria of Measurement Quality
  • The Ethics of Measurement
  • Quick Quiz

3
Measuring Anything that Exists
  • Measurement careful, deliberate observations of
    the real world for the purpose of describing
    objects and events in terms of the attributes
    composing the variable.

4
Measuring Anything that Exists
  • Measurement Practice
  • Political Party Affiliation
  • Age
  • Grade Point Average
  • Satisfaction with College
  • Religious Affiliation

5
Measuring Anything that Exists
  • Conceptions, Concepts, and Reality
  • Practice Prejudice
  • Conceptualization the mental process whereby
    fuzzy and imprecise notions (concepts) are made
    more specific and precise.

6
Measuring Anything that Exists
  • Concepts as Constructs
  • Concepts are constructs derived by mutual
    agreement from mental images.
  • Conceptions summarize collections of seemingly
    related observations and experiences.

7
Conceptualization
  • The process through which we specify what we mean
    when we use particular terms in research.
  • We cannot meaningfully answer a question without
    a working agreement about the meaning of the
    outcome.
  • Conceptualization processes a specific,
    agreed-upon meaning for a concept for the
    purposes of research.

8
Conceptualization
  • Indicators and Dimensions
  • Indicator an observation that we choose to
    consider as a reflection of a variable we wish to
    study.
  • Dimension a specifiable aspect of a concept.

9
Conceptualization
  • Indicators and Dimensions Practice
  • Religious Affiliation
  • College Success
  • Political Activity
  • Poverty
  • Binge Drinking
  • Fear of Crime

10
Conceptualization
  • The Interchangeability of Indicators
  • If several different indicators all represent the
    same concept, all of them will behave the same
    way the concept would behave if it were real and
    could be observed.

11
Conceptualization
  • Real, Nominal, and Operational Definitions
  • Specification the process through which
    concepts are made more specific.
  • A nominal definition is one that is simply
    assigned to a term without any claim that the
    definition represents a real entity.
  • An operational definition specifies precisely how
    a concept will be measured that is, the
    operations we will perform.

12
Conceptualization
  • Creating Conceptual Order
  • Conceptualization
  • Nominal Definition
  • Operational Definition
  • Real World Measurement

13
Conceptualization
  • Conceptualization Practice
  • Anomie

14
Definitions in Descriptive and Explanatory Studies
  • Definitions are more problematic for descriptive
    research than for explanatory research.

15
Operationalization Choices
  • Conceptualization is the refinement and
    specification of abstract concepts.
  • Operationalization is the development of specific
    research procedures that will result in empirical
    observations representing those concepts in the
    real world.

16
Operationalization Choices
  • Range of Variation
  • To what extent is the research willing to combine
    attributes in fairly gross categories?
  • Variation between the Extremes
  • To what degree is the operationalization of
    variables precise?
  • A Note on Dimensions

17
Operationalization Choices
  • Defining Variables and Attributes
  • An attribute is a characteristic or quality of
    something (ex female, old, student).
  • A variable is a logical set of attributes (ex
    gender, age).
  • Every variable must have two important qualities.
  • The attributes composing it should be exhaustive.
  • Attributes must be mutually exclusive.

18
Operationalization Choices
  • Levels of Measurement
  • Nominal
  • Ordinal
  • Interval
  • Ratio

19
Operationalization Choices
  • Levels of Measurement Nominal
  • Variables whose attributes have only the
    characteristics of exhaustiveness and mutually
    exclusiveness.
  • Examples gender, religious affiliation, college
    major, hair color, birthplace, nationality

20
Operationalization Choices
  • Levels of Measurement Ordinal
  • Variables with attributes we can logically rank
    in order.
  • Examples socioeconomic status, level of
    conflict, prejudice, conservativeness, hardness

21
Operationalization Choices
  • Levels of Measurement Interval
  • Variables for which the actual distance between
    attributes has meaning.
  • Examples temperature (Fahrenheit), IQ score

22
Operationalization Choices
  • Levels of Measurement Ratio
  • Variables whose attributes meet the requirements
    of an interval measure, and has a true zero
    point.
  • Examples temperature (Kelvin), age, length of
    time, number of organizations, number of groups,
    number of As received in college

23
Operationalization Choices
  • Implications of Levels of Measurement
  • Analyses require minimum levels of measurement
  • Some variables can be treated as multiple levels
    of measurement

24
Operationalization Choices
  • Single or Multiple Indicators

25
Criteria of Measurement Quality
  • Precision and Accuracy
  • Reliability
  • Validity

26
Criteria of Measurement Quality
  • Precision and Accuracy
  • Precise measures are superior to imprecise ones.
  • Precision is not the same as accuracy.

27
Criteria of Measurement Quality
  • Reliability the quality of measurement method
    that suggests the same data would have been
    collected each time in repeated observations of
    the same phenomenon.
  • Reliability is not the same as accuracy.

28
Criteria of Measurement Quality
  • Test-Retest Method
  • To make the same measurement more than once.
  • Split-Half Method
  • Multiple sets of randomly assigned variables
    should produce the same classifications
  • Established Measures
  • Reliability of Research Workers

29
Criteria of Measurement Quality
  • Validity a term describing a measure that
    accurately reflects the concept it is intended to
    measure.
  • Face Validity the quality of an indicator that
    makes it a reasonable measure of some variable.
  • Criterion-Related Validity the degree to which
    a measure relates to some external criterion.
  • Construct Validity the degree to which a
    measure relates to other variables as expected
    within a system of theoretical relationships.
  • Content Validity the degree to which a measure
    covers the range of meanings included within a
    concept.

30
Quick Quiz
31
Chapter 5 Quiz
  • 1. The mental processes whereby fuzzy and
    imprecise notions are made more specific and
    precise is called
  • construction.
  • reification.
  • conceptualization
  • operationalization.

32
Chapter 5 Quiz
  • Answer C.
  • The mental processes whereby fuzzy and imprecise
    notions are made more specific and precise is
    called conceptualization.

33
Chapter 5 Quiz
  • 2. Which of the following are examples of nominal
    measures?
  • gender
  • religious affiliation
  • political party affiliation
  • birthplace
  • all of the above

34
Chapter 5 Quiz
  • Answer E.
  • Gender, religious affiliation, political
    affiliation, and birthplace are all examples of
    nominal measures.

35
Chapter 5 Quiz
  • 3. _____ is the degree to which a measure covers
    the range of meanings included within a concept.
  • Construct validity
  • Criterion-related validity
  • Face validity
  • Content validity

36
Chapter 5 Quiz
  • Answer D.
  • Content validity is the degree to which a measure
    covers the range of meanings included within a
    concept.

37
Chapter 5 Quiz
  • 4. In social research, the process of coming to
    an agreement about what terms mean is
  • hypothesizing.
  • conceptualization.
  • variable naming.
  • operationalization.

38
Chapter 5 Quiz
  • Answer B.
  • In social research, the process of coming to an
    agreement about what terms mean is
    conceptualization.

39
Chapter 5 Quiz
  • 5. The _____ of concepts in scientific inquiry
    depends on nominal and operational definitions.
  • specification
  • interchangeability
  • functioning
  • network

40
Chapter 5 Quiz
  • Answer A.
  • The specification of concepts in scientific
    inquiry depends on nominal and operational
    definitions.

41
Chapter 5 Quiz
  • 6. A level of measurement describing a variable
    whose attributes are rank-ordered and have equal
    distances between adjacent attributes are _____
    measures.
  • ratio
  • interval
  • nominal
  • ordinal

42
Chapter 5 Quiz
  • Answer B.
  • A level of measurement describing a variable
    whose attributes are rank-ordered and have equal
    distances between adjacent attributes are
    interval measures
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