Describing and Predicng Behavior


Required Text

Malec, T. & Newman, M. (2013).Research methods: Building a knowledge base.San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc. ISBN-13: 9781621785743, ISBN-10: 1621785742.Chapter 4: Survey Research-Describing and Predicting Behavior

Required References

Benedict K (2014, April 11).Correlation – The Basic Idea Explained[Video file]. Retrieved from

Diem, K. G. (2002).A step-by-step guide to developing effective questionnaires and survey procedures for program evaluation & research.Available at

Mariampolski, H. (2001). Qualitative vs. quantitative.Qualitative Market Research, 22-25. SAGE Publications Ltd. doi: 10.4135/9781412985529.n13

Rice, G. T. (2005).Developing high quality multiple-choice test questions.Available at

Smith, Lara (2013, November 18).Correlation Basics[Video file]. Retrieved from

Week 5 – Discussion 1


Questionnaire Design

Topic: Depression & Cancer

Using the textbook, required articles and recommended resources, construct a 5-6 item questionnaire on a topic of your choice. Your questionnaire can include either open-ended or closed-ended (fixed format) questions. Submit your completed questionnaire to this discussion forum.

Be sure to consider the following when responding:

1. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the questionnaire overall?

2. Consider how the items are worded and the response choices, if applicable, are provided.

a. Are the questions clear and concise?

b. Are there any questions that are vague or unclear?

c. If applicable, are the response choices effective?

d. Is there only one correct response choice?

e. Are there any unintentional cues to the correct answer?

f. Do the items appear to be a good measure of what the student is wanting to assess?

3. How could the questionnaire be improved?


Week 5 – Discussion 2


Sampling topic: Elderly

In qualitative and quantitative studies, sampling refers to selecting a particular sample of individuals from a larger population. This process is often called participant selection. Qualitative research collects rich data from fewer sources, while quantitative research attempts to collect a larger, more representative sample from the population as a whole. Selection criteria for eligibility in a study is similar for both quantitative and qualitative studies, however, there are some differences with respect to the procedures used and the size of the samples.


Consider a particular topic (this can be the topic from one of your previous discussions or assignments), and a particular qualitative or quantitative research design and state the factors you would consider in choosing participants for the study. Be sure to answer the following in your discussion:

What sampling method would you use?

How would you go about deciding how many participants to select given a particular methodology?

What factors should be considered regarding sample size, representativeness, and apparent biases in the selection of the sample?

Your post should be at least 300 words. For this discussion, rather than responding to two peers, select one peer whose study idea you find particularly intriguing and engage in a back and forth discussion with that peer about the discussion question topics. You may reconnect with the peer you discussed with in Week 4 Discussion 1 or select a different peer this week. Make sure to have at least two substantive posts to that classmate. Here, our goal is to dive a bit deeper into a discussion with an individual peer. Feel free to post additional responses to the discussion thread that share what you both learned from your exchange. Peer responses should by posted by Day 7.

Chapter 4 Survey ResearchDescribing and Predicng Behavior

Kim Steele/Photodisc/Gey Images

Chapter Contents

Introducon to Survey Research (hp:// Designing Quesonnaires (hp:// Sampling From the Populaon (hp:// Analyzing Survey Data (hp:// Ethical Issues in Survey Research (hp://

In a highly influenal book published in the 1960s, the sociologist Erving Goffman (1963) defined sgma as an unusual characterisc that triggers a negave evaluaon. In his words, “The sgmazed person is one who is reduced in our minds from a whole and usual person to a tainted, discounted one” (1963, p. 3). People’s beliefs about sgmazed characteriscs exist largely in the eye of the beholder but have substanal influence on social interacons with the sgmazed (see Snyder, Tanke, & Berscheid, 1977). A large research tradion in psychology has been devoted to understanding both the origins of sgma and the consequences of being sgmazed. According to Goffman and others, the characteriscs associated with the greatest degree of sgma have three features in common: They are highly visible, they are perceived as controllable, and they are misunderstood by the public.

Recently, researchers have taken considerable interest in people’s atudes toward members of the gay and lesbian community. Although these atudes have become more posive over me, this group sll encounters harassment and other forms of discriminaon on a regular basis (see Naonal Gay Task Force, 1984). One of the top recognized experts on this subject is Gregory Herek, professor of psychology at the University of California at Davis (hp:// (hp:// ). In a 1988 arcle, Herek conducted a survey of heterosexuals’ atudes toward both lesbians and gay men, with the goal of understanding the predictors of negave atudes. Herek approached this research queson by construcng a scale to measure atudes toward these groups. In three studies, parcipants were asked to complete this atude measure, along with other exisng scales assessing atudes about gender roles, religion, and tradional ideologies.

Herek’s (1988) research revealed that, as hypothesized, heterosexual males tended to hold more negave atudes about gay men and lesbians than heterosexual females. However, the same psychological mechanisms seemed to explain the prejudice in both genders. That is, negave atudes were associated with increased religiosity, more tradional beliefs about family and gender, and fewer experiences actually interacng with gay men and lesbians. These associaons meant that Herek could predict people’s atudes toward gay men and lesbians based on knowing their views about family, gender, and religion, as well as their past interacons with the sgmazed group. Herek’s primary contribuon to the literature in this paper was the insight that reducing sgma toward gay men and lesbians “may require confronng deeply held, socially reinforced values” (1988, p. 473). And this insight was possible only because people were asked to report these values directly.




4.1 Introducon to Survey Research

Whether you are aware of it or not, you have been encountering survey research for most of your life. Every me your telephone rings during dinnerme, and the person on the other end of the line insists on knowing your household income and favorite brand of laundry detergent, he or she is helping to conduct survey research. When news programs try to predict the winner of an elecon two weeks early, these reports are based on survey research of eligible voters. In both cases, the researcher is trying to make predicons about the products people buy or the candidates they will elect based on people’s reports of their own atudes, feelings, and behaviors.

Surveys can be used in a variety of contexts and are most appropriate for quesons that involve people describing their atudes, their behaviors, or a combinaon of the two. For example, if you wanted to examine the predictors of atudes toward the death penalty, you could ask people their opinions on this topic and also ask them about their polical party affiliaon. Based on these responses, you could test whether polical affiliaon predicted atudes toward the death penalty. Or, imagine you wanted to know whether students who spent more me studying were more likely to do well on their exams. This queson could be answered using a survey that asked students about their study habits and then tracked their exam grades. We will return to this example near the end of the chapter as we discuss the process of analyzing survey data to test our hypotheses about predicons.

The common thread running through these two examples is that they require people to report either their thoughts (e.g., opinions about the death penalty) or their behaviors (e.g., the hours they spend studying). Thus, in deciding whether a survey is the best fit for your research queson, the key is to consider whether people will be both able and willing to report these things accurately. We will expand on both of these issues in the next secon.

In this chapter, we connue our journey along the connuum of control, moving on to survey research, in which the primary goal is either describing or predicng atudes and behavior. For our purposes, survey research refers to any method that relies on people’s reports of their own atudes, feelings, and behaviors. So, for example, in Herek’s (1988) study, the parcipants reported their atudes toward lesbians and gay men, rather than these atudes being somehow directly observed by the researchers. Compared with the qualitave and descripve designs for observing behavior we discussed in Chapter 3, survey research tends to yield more control over both data collecon and queson content. Thus, survey research falls somewhere between quantave descripve research (Chapter 3) and the explanatory research involved in experimental designs (Chapter 5). This chapter provides an overview of survey research from conceptualizaon through analysis. We will cover the types of research quesons that are best suited to survey research and provide an overview of the decisions to consider in designing and conducng a survey study. We will then cover the process of data collecon, with a focus on selecng the people who will complete your survey. Finally, we will cover the three most common approaches for analyzing survey data, bringing us back full circle to addressing our research quesons.

Distinguishing Features of Surveys

Survey research designs have three disnguishing features that set them apart from other designs. First, all survey research relies on eit

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