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Chapter 7: Asking People About Themselves

Chapter 7: Asking People About Themselves. Surveys [p122]. Conducted through the use of a written questionnaire or interview Results are used to describe people’s opinions, attitudes, and preferences Methodology is descriptive and nonexperimental. Surveys often show correlations.

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Chapter 7: Asking People About Themselves

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  1. Chapter 7: Asking People About Themselves

  2. Surveys[p122] • Conducted through the use of a written questionnaire or interview • Results are used to describe people’s opinions, attitudes, and preferences • Methodology is descriptive and nonexperimental

  3. Surveys often show correlations • Correlational research assesses relationships among naturally occurring variables and provides a basis for making predictions

  4. Response set: a potential problem [p123] • People do not always provide truthful and accurate answers • Response set: a tendency to respond to all questions from a particular perspective • Social desirability response set leads the individual to answer in the most socially acceptable way. • When are respondents most likely to lie? - Lack of trust in the researcher(s)

  5. Sampling [p136] • Refers to the procedures used to obtain a sample • A population is composed of all individuals of interest to the researcher • A sample is a subgroup of the population • With proper sampling, we can estimate characteristics of the population • A large sample size is better than a small one for determining characteristics in a population

  6. Two basic techniques for sampling [p138] • Probability sampling - Each member of the population has a specifiable probability of being chosen • Nonprobability sampling - Unknown probability of any member being chosen

  7. Probability sampling [pp138-139] • Simple random sampling – each member of the population has an equal probability of being chosen • Stratified random sampling – the population is divided into subgroups (strata) and random samples are taken from each strata (used when all members of the population can appear on a list) • Cluster sampling – identify clusters and sample from these clusters (used when a list of members in a population is unavailable)

  8. Nonprobability sampling [139-140] • No guarantee that each member of the population has an equal chance of being included in the sample • Haphazard sampling/convenience sampling: occurs when the researcher selects individuals who are available and willing to respond to the survey • Quota sampling – sample reflects the numerical composition of various subgroups in the population

  9. Evaluating Samples [p142] • Representativeness of the population • Sampling frame: the actual population of individuals from which a sample will be drawn • Response rate: the percentage of people in the sample who actually complete the survey • Reasons for using convenience samples: easy access to participants

  10. Survey methods [p132] • Written questionnaire • Mail surveys • Quick and convenient • Self-administered • Best for highly personal or embarrassing topics • Internet surveys • Efficient, low-cost way to survey very large samples

  11. Positive features of questionnaires • Less costly than interviews • Allows respondents to be completely anonymous • Can be administered in person to groups or individuals • Can be administered through the mail, on the Internet, or with other technologies

  12. Negative features of questionnaires • Understanding of the questions • Motivation • Response rates (mail surveys) • People may misrepresent themselves • Unanswered questions

  13. Survey methods [p132] • Personal interviews • Face-to-face interviews • Telephone interviews • Focus group interviews

  14. Face-to-face interviews • Costly • More control over how the survey is administered and how people interpret survey questions [p134]

  15. Telephone interviews • Brief surveys that can be completed efficiently and with greater access to the population [p134]

  16. Focus group interviews • Interview with a group of about 6-10 people brought together for 2-3 hours [p134]

  17. Positive features of interviews • Involves an interaction between people - Response rates higher than questionnaires • People answer most, if not all, the questions • Interviewer can clarify questions • Interviewer can ask follow-up questions

  18. Negative features of interviews • Interviewer bias[p134] • Show approval or disapproval of certain answers • If there are several interviewers, each could possess different characteristics (e.g., attractiveness, age, ethnicity, etc.) • Expectations could lead interviewers to “see what they are looking for” in the answers

  19. Research Designs[ideas discussed on p135] • Cross-sectional design: A sample is selected from one or more populations at one time • Successive independent samples design: A series of cross-sectional surveys are taken over time

  20. Noncomparable samples • When different populations are sampled at different times, we don’t know if responses differ because of true changes over time, or because different populations were sampled

  21. Research Designs [p135] • Longitudinal design (panel study): The same sample of individuals completes the survey at different points in time

  22. Constructing a Questionnaire “What Do You Think?”

  23. What Do You Think?:Question Wording • Is the Mississippi River longer or shorter than 500 (or 3000) miles?___________________ • How long is it? __________________miles • Is the population of Argentina greater or smaller than 2 (or 100) million?___________ • What is the population?________________ The Mississippi River is 2,348 miles long. The population of Argentina is 36 million.

  24. Important considerations when writing questions [p125] • Simplicity • Question wording: meaning must be clear and easy to understand

  25. Problematic Survey Wording [p126] • Leading questions • Double-barreled questions • Loaded questions • Undefined terms • Contrast questions • Negative words in questions • Yea-saying or nay-saying

  26. Leading questions • Provide an “anchor” of information that the respondent then considers before giving an answer • The questions regarding the length of the Mississippi River and the population of Argentina are examples of leading questions.

  27. Double-barreled question • E.g. “Is it more important to you to learn the material or to get a good grade?” • The question should be rephrased as two separate questions [p126]

  28. Loaded question • E.g. “Do you think pornography is disgusting?” • Contains non-neutral or emotionally laden terms [p126]

  29. Contrast questions • A series of questions, such as “How much money did you make last year?” followed by “How much money did you donate to charity last year?” • People made aware of a vast discrepancy between what they make and what they spend to help others may give biased answers on the second question.

  30. Undefined terms • E.g. “Should low-wage earners receive government assistance?” • What level of income classifies as a low-wage earner? And what kind of government assistance?

  31. Negative words in questions[p126] • E.g. “Would you oppose not having multiple-choice questions on the next exam?” • Using negative words can be confusing even to those with a high level of education

  32. Yea-saying or nay-saying[p126] • The respondent may employ a response set and agree to all questions, or disagree.

  33. Steps in Preparing a Questionnaire • Decide what information should be sought • Decide on type of questionnaire to be used • Write a first draft of the questionnaire • Reexamine and revise the questionnaire after it is reviewed by experts • Pretest the questionnaire (pilot study) • Edit the questionnaire

  34. Formatting the questionnaire [p131] • Attractive and professional looking • Free of spelling errors and neatly typed • Questions and response alternatives should be easy to identify • Consistency in scales used (don’t change from 5- to 4- to 7-point scales)

  35. Tips for Ordering Questions • Especially for mail surveys (normally low response rate): • Ask the most interesting and important questions first • Ask demographic questions last • Especially for surveys dealing with sensitive topics: • Start with the most general questions, and move to more specific questions for a given topic • Filter questions: These questions direct respondents to the survey questions that apply directly to them

  36. Responses to questions [127-8] • Open-ended (free-response) questions allow greater flexibility in responses but are difficult to code • Respondents are free to answer in any way they like • Requires time to code responses; costly • Some responses cannot be categorized • Useful to find out what people are thinking and how people naturally view the world

  37. Responses to questions [127-8] • Closed-ended questions: Response alternatives are the same for everyone and easier to code but may not accurately describe individuals’ responses • More structured approach • Useful when the dimensions of the variable are well defined

  38. Formats of rating scales [pp128-131] Simplest and most direct scale is five to seven response alternatives with the end-points on the scale labeled to define the extremes. Strongly agree _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ Strongly disagree

  39. Formats of rating scales [pp128-131] • Graphic rating scale • Requires a mark along a continuous 100- millimeter line that is anchored with descriptions at each end Not very enjoyable Very enjoyable A ruler is used to measure the score on a scale that ranges from 0 to 100.

  40. Formats of rating scales [pp128-131] • Semantic differential scale • Measures the meaning of concepts • Respondents rate any concept on a series of bipolar adjectives using 7-point scales Good _____: _____: _____: _____: _____: _____: _____ Bad Strong _____: _____: _____: _____: _____: _____: _____ Weak

  41. Formats of rating scales [pp128-131] • Nonverbal scale for children • Children may not understand other types of scales

  42. Formats of rating scales [pp128-131] • Labeling response alternatives • Sometimes needed to clearly define the meaning of each alternative __________ __________ __________ __________ __________ Strongly Agree Undecided Disagree Strongly Agree Disagree

  43. LAB: Writing Survey Questions • What factors are important influences on a person’s choice of college?

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