The Foundations of Social Research  



Examples and Illustrations



Least You Should Know


Food for Thought

  1. Use race and gender to illustrate difference between dichotomous and continuous variables. Be sure to mention both issues of measurement and theory.
  2. Consider the Rossi article on child naming. What was the unit of analysis? What were the conceptual variables and how were they operationalized?
  3. What is the "educational model" of social change? Why does the author bring it up?
  4. Explain how confusing dependent and independent variables leads to a misinterpretation of Oscar Lewis’ concept "culture of poverty."
  5. Evaluate Mazur’s method of combining the ratings his subjects gave to the wedding portraits (low, medium, high) by converting them to scores (-1, 0, +1) and averaging them. Keeping levels of measurement in mind, what objections might you have to this approach?
  6. Why is it important to carefully construct operational definitions and stick with them while observing and measuring? Apply this to our data collection exercise for the class.
  7. Consider the operational definitions offered on p. 29.  Propose an operational definition of "feminist identity" that would permit you to rate individuals in terms of how feminist their identities are.

Concepts, terms, vocabulary

variable (20)
dimension (20)
unidimensional (20)
multidimensional (20)
dichotomous variable (20)
dependent variable (23)
independent variable (23)
indicator (24)
concept (24)
SES (25)
operationalize (25ff)
levels of measurement (33)
nominal variables (33)
ordinal variables (33-4)
interval variables (34)
ratio variables (34-5)
quantitative (33)
qualitative (33)
unit of analysis (35ff)
ecological fallacy (37)
validity (38)
reliability (38)
precision (39)
accuracy (39)
face validity (40)
criterion validity (41)
nonspuriousness (45)

M i l l s    H o m e    P a g e    *    M i l l s    S o c i o l o g y    *    S O C 9 1    *    D a n    R y a n