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  • 00:02

    [Quantitative Methods][Table of Contents-- 1.Questions of Quantitative Research 2.Principles of Measurement 3.Experiments 4.Surveys 5.Applications 6.Conclusion][Segment 1 Questions of Quantitative Research]

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    NARRATOR: Human behavior is complex.Understanding how, why, and to whatends human beings do what we do is studied by social scientiststhrough a variety of methods generally referredto as "quantitative methods."While there are different methods specifically,they each address certain kinds of questionsand adhere to certain principles of measurement.

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    NARRATOR [continued]: These include questions about cause effect and mitigatingeffects.What is the effect of a given cause?What is the cause of a given effect?How do we mitigate a given effectby manipulating a given cause?

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    BARBARA HUMMEL ROSSI: Quantitative methodsare used when you have specific questionsin mind and good measures to measurethe variables in question.For example, you might be lookingat the relation between achievement and intelligence.The question might be, what is the relationbetween achievement and intelligence?

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    BARBARA HUMMEL ROSSI [continued]: Now we have good standardized measuresto measure both intelligence and achievementand we would use correlation analysisto look at the relation between the two of them.

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    NARRATOR: The following example illustrates the essenceof what quantitative methods seekto address in whole or part.

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    X: I was trying to call you Saturdayand you didn't pick up.Where were you?

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    Y: Oh, yeah.I was out, just out with some friend of mine.

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    X: Where'd you go?What'd you do?

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    Y: Just to a bar.I was just hanging out with a girl named Sally.Yeah.

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    X: Who is she?

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    Y: It was just kind of like a date.

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    X: OK.So let me just try to get this straight.You went out with her Saturday night on a datewithout even telling me, without even letting me know.And you apparently like her more than you do and now you'rebreaking up with me.Well, just try for the sake of knowing things,I just want to know what you did with her.What went on that you're keeping from me?

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    Y: It doesn't matter.

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    X: No, to me, it matters.

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    Y: It doesn't.

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    X: I want to know what you did with her behind my back.That's what I want to know.

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    Y: It's not about that.

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    NARRATOR: Those using quantitative methodsto understand what happened between these two peoplewould want to know, what is X feeling?Did what Y said to X make her upset?If Y would have said something more positive,would X be expressing a different emotion?[Segment 2 Principles of Measurement]

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    NARRATOR [continued]: When measuring these various causes and effects,social scientists are careful that they measure whatand how things occur in the real world, not the worldas it exists in their office, laboratory, or their own brain.This includes adhering to standardsof internal validity, external validity, and reliability.

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    NARRATOR [continued]: Internal validity is when an experiment isolatesa causal connection between two variables,eliminating all other explanations.External validity is when results of a studycan be generalized to a broader population.Reliability is when a phenomenon is measured consistently

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    NARRATOR [continued]: in repeated studies.

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    BARBARA HUMMEL-ROSSI: Internal and external validityare really both critical for doing experiments, particularlythe experimental control situation.Internal validity refers to, does the treatmentmake a difference?And you'd be concerned about such things interferingwith the treatment effect, such things as history.

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    BARBARA HUMMEL-ROSSI [continued]: As a person gets older, the construct under questionmay change.You would be concerned about the effects,for example, of a pretest sensitizing the individualto the intervention and the effects perhapsof differential mortality, that is, people leaving

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    BARBARA HUMMEL-ROSSI [continued]: the experiment differently in the control groupand the experimental group.With respect to external validity,this has to do with whether or notyou can generalize to other situations,for example, to another setting, to other people administeringan intervention.And they're both very critical to experimental design.

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    BARBARA HUMMEL-ROSSI [continued]: [Segment 3 Experiments]

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    NARRATOR: One of the most often-used formsof quantitative methods is the experiment.

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    CHARLES MCILWAIN: The primary reason that experimentsare used in social science researchis because it's the best method for isolatingcausal relationships between human behavior.So for instance, say I wanted to understand whether or notpeople's attitudes about crime are changedby the amount or the kind of television news

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    CHARLES MCILWAIN [continued]: that they watch.An experiment allows the researcherto manipulate the message, to measure the effect of people'sattitudes and opinions, and then be able to tell whether or notthe message was the actual cause of the change in their attitudeor their opinion.The one downside about using experiments

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    CHARLES MCILWAIN [continued]: is that it is low in what social scientists referto as external validity.And that simply means that an experimental environment,the researcher controls everything that's going on.And we know that in the real world,we don't always know what's going to happen.And so though we can test for the causal relationship,

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    CHARLES MCILWAIN [continued]: we can't always generalize to saythat this is the way things are likely to happen in any givenscenario.

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    NARRATOR: The following example illustrateshow a typical social science experiment might be run.This one seeks to ascertain the effects of racial messagesin political campaign advertisements.First, the experimenter describes to subjectsin the experiment what they will be doingand asks for their voluntary consent

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    NARRATOR [continued]: to continue participation.

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    CHARLES MCILWAIN: Please sign the formand I will collect them.

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    NARRATOR: Second, participants areasked to watch a series of political adsin which no racial message is present.

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    DAVID JACKSON: What choice do you have in this election?You can choose a candidate who believes parents should choosewhether children will get the best education,instead of being forced into failing schools.Or you can choose a candidate whose education plan meanssimply throwing more money at schools and teachers whoaren't getting the job done.You can choose a candidate who believes that the way

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    DAVID JACKSON [continued]: to strengthen our schools is to impose the tough standardsof No Child Left Behind.Or you can choose one who rewardsfailing teachers and schools who don't meethigh standards of excellence.You have a crucial choice in this election.I'm David Jackson and I want to be your choicebecause I'm the right choice.

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    NARRATOR: Third, participants areasked to fill out a brief questionnaire thatasks, among other things, how strongly theyfelt about each candidate and who they would most likely votefor.This establishes a baseline to measure the effectof the messages to come.Next, the researcher repeat steps one and two

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    NARRATOR [continued]: with a different group of participants.These participants then also view a series of ads.This time, the ads have an explicit racial appeal.

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    JIM HERBERT: Some people have saidthat the difference between my opponent and meis the color of our skin.That's not the only difference.David Jackson's education plan isto take money away from folks like us to fund inner cityschools that look like him.Jackson says his quota-based so-called affirmative actionin education plan is necessary to make the children in our two

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    JIM HERBERT [continued]: communities more equal.Jackson is a good man and we both believe in equality.But does equality mean that it's fair to take moneyfrom one group and give it to another just becauseof the color of their skin?I'm Jim Herbert and I'm running for Congressbecause I believe in an education policy thatisn't just black and white.

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    NARRATOR: Next, subjects are againasked to fill out a questionnaire thatasks the same questions about how they feltabout each candidate and which of them theywould more likely vote for.After this, the experimenter analyzesdata to see if there was a measurable differencein participants' attitudes between those who saw adswith no racial message and those who saw ads

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    NARRATOR [continued]: with explicit racial messages.In this brief example, the researcherconducting the experiment will analyze the data,hoping to determine whether thereis a causal link between a person'sexposure to racial messages and their perception ofand likelihood to vote for a particular political candidate.

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    CHARLES MCILWAIN: Conducting this experiment allowedus to find out a variety of interesting conclusionsregarding the way that racial messages affect voters.Most importantly, we found that implicit racial messagesseem to work well, in that when voters were exposedto a racial message or an implicit racial message

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    CHARLES MCILWAIN [continued]: by a white candidate, they tendedto view that candidate more favorablythan the black opponent.However, we also found that explicit racial messagesseem to backfire on the sponsor of the messageso that the white candidate who usedan explicit racial message, the voterstended to view that person more negatively

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    CHARLES MCILWAIN [continued]: and the black opponent more positively.So we can see these two outcomes as faras how these messages affect the attitudesand beliefs of the voters about these candidates.But remember, when we're talking about experimentsin particular, we're interested in causation.What is the precise cause for the attitude

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    CHARLES MCILWAIN [continued]: change in these voters?And in this way, we found that more than the message itself,there was a greater predictor or causal variablefor this attitude change and here, thatwas political ideology.So a voter's particular way of seeing political issues

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    CHARLES MCILWAIN [continued]: had a greater predictive effect or greater causal effecton their attitude change.[Segment 4 Surveys]

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    NARRATOR: Surveys are another form of quantitative methodused by social scientists.We are all familiar with and probably haveresponded to surveys that seek to measure everythingfrom public opinion on political issuesto our use of commercial productsto worker satisfaction with their jobs.All surveys are the same, in that

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    NARRATOR [continued]: they seek information that allows researchersto probe the depth and/or breadth of human attitudesand behaviors.However, they can be administered in different ways,as questionnaires or interviews.Surveys seek to gain quantitative dataabout a large number of individuals' opinions

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    NARRATOR [continued]: or experiences.In questionnaires, individuals respondto written items that ask them to self-report their attitudesand behaviors.In interviews surveys, a living personadministers a survey face-to-face to individuals,allowing a researcher to clarify responses.

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    INTERVIEWER: Of using surveys--

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    JACQUELINE MATTIS: In the social sciences,surveys are used as a way of providing broad descriptionsof phenomena.So for example, we have interest in describing patternsof illness, the rates of incidenceof certain kinds of events, and surveysprovide a wonderful opportunity to get raw dataon a number of different people and a numberof different experiences and from people

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    JACQUELINE MATTIS [continued]: from different regions, locations,and social environments, et cetera.But there are naturally positives as well as negativeswith using survey research as a methodology for getting accessto information.On the positive end, surveys provide, again,wonderful opportunities to get dataon a number of different people.Because they're so easy to administer,

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    JACQUELINE MATTIS [continued]: you have opportunities to reach people that you probablywouldn't be able to reach if you were using other technologies.On the negative end, there are a numberof different concerns with using surveysas a way of going about getting access to data.First of all, researchers often devise surveys on their ownwithout a great deal of discussionwith participants about their experiences,

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    JACQUELINE MATTIS [continued]: about the way that they make sense of events, et cetera.And in those situations, the researcher's ideas and biasesvery often make themselves known and manifest in the waythat we ask questions, the specific questions that we ask,et cetera.Also on the negative end, we have with surveysan interesting tendency to assume

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    JACQUELINE MATTIS [continued]: that the kinds of questions that we can askare broad enough and detailed enough to really accessa particular phenomenon.So we assume, for example, that if we'reasking questions about depression,that depression means the same thingto all people, which may not necessarily be the case.We assume that in 10 or 15 or 20 questions,

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    JACQUELINE MATTIS [continued]: we can get access to the full phenomenonthat we describe as "depression."And it's really difficult sometimesto know whether or not we're asking enough questions,whether we're asking detailed enough questions, et cetera.So there are always drawbacks to using surveys as the waythat we access information.

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    NARRATOR: We've seen people respond on their ownto a questionnaire.In the following example, however, the researcheris administering the survey in a structured one-to-oneinterview.

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    CHARLES MCILWAIN: First of all, if youare able to vote in the election between DavidJackson and Vincent Fox, who would yoube most likely to vote for based on whatyou know of the two candidates?Would you say you would vote for David Jackson or Vincent Fox?

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    WOMAN: David Jackson was the first?

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    NARRATOR: Notice how more nuanced informationmight be gained from this method of surveying.In surveys, issues of validity and reliabilityhave to do with three primary areas,sampling the process of selecting survey respondentsin order to generalize findings, question selection-- questions

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    NARRATOR [continued]: are designed to elicit the desired informationand are relatively free of bias-- and administration.Questions are asked consistently and in the same manneras an interview survey.

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    JACQUELINE MATTIS: Sampling is the termthat we use to describe the people we choose to includein a particular study.It also describes the places-- the eventsthat we choose to examine.So one of the more important thingsto consider when it comes to making decisions about to whomwe want to address the surveys that we're

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    JACQUELINE MATTIS [continued]: interested in in distributing is the question of,what's the phenomenon that's of interest here?And are there certain people who are more likely to experiencea phenomenon than others?So for example, if women are more likely to experiencea phenomenon than men are, then wewant to focus our attention on women.

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    JACQUELINE MATTIS [continued]: If we want to examine whether or notsomething is representative for African Americans versus AsianAmericans, we want to make sure that we sample enough peoplefrom those different backgrounds to make surethat what we're getting is a broad enough overviewof the phenomenon of interest than we would normallyget if we only focused on certain groups of people.

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    JACQUELINE MATTIS [continued]: The wording that we use in developingany particular question is extremely important.One thing that we know from doing social science researchis that people use very different languageto describe their experiences.So what one person might describe as "depression"another person may describe usingcompletely different language.

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    JACQUELINE MATTIS [continued]: And if we assume that one particular word or kindof wording is representative of an experience for everyone,we often are making mistakes.So the wording of a question is extremely important.We also have to consider in constructing itemswhether or not we have enough questionsto really capture a phenomenon that we're interested in.

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    JACQUELINE MATTIS [continued]: So sometimes, one question is perfect.In many situations, especially whenit comes to the social sciences, weneed multiple questions to get at various aspectsof an experience.So again, if we're looking at depression,depression includes emotions.It includes behaviors.It includes thoughts.And so we want to make sure that we have enough questions that

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    JACQUELINE MATTIS [continued]: get at emotions or thoughts or behaviorsto really capture the phenomenon as well as we can.We also have to consider issues like ethnicity and language.And so the wording of a particular question,certain ethnic groups may use certain waysof describing or discussing a phenomenonand we have to be sensitive to that in the way

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    JACQUELINE MATTIS [continued]: that we word the items on any particular survey.The final issue that we have to keep in mindis the order in which items may appear on a survey.If you ask an item that will bias peopleto think a certain way or to experience a certain thing,you want to make sure that you ask those kinds of questionslate in a survey rather than early

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    JACQUELINE MATTIS [continued]: so that you don't bias people too early on in the process.[Segment 5 Applications]

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    CHARLES MCILWAIN: One of the areas of applicationfor quantitative methods is in the area of marketing,where the makers or producers of productstry to understand what it is their audienceor consumers want.And so they seek to measure what it is those people desire,

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    CHARLES MCILWAIN [continued]: as well as being able to understand how to bestpersuasively target that market in orderto consume those products.And so quantitative methodology is used in this areato be able to see whether or not a persuasive message isworking.Is it successful in persuading consumersto buy a particular product or set of products?

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    CHARLES MCILWAIN [continued]: Another application of quantitative methodologyis in assessing social programs.For instance, if a government or a private agencyis trying to set up a program aimedat curing a social problem, let's say for example,drug abuse, where participants might come into a treatmentprogram, I want to be able to measure

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    CHARLES MCILWAIN [continued]: at the end of that program the successor failure of the treatment.And so quantitative methods are usedin this particular instance to be able to look at the endand say, was this particular treatmenteffective in declining the drug use or dependency of drug usersin these situations?

  • 19:53

    CHARLES MCILWAIN [continued]: Another area where quantitative methods are applicableis in the area of government and politicsbecause in this country in particular and others,the government is supposed to be responsive to the peoplethat it represents.Government officials, politicians,often seek to understand what citizens' attitudes are, what

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    CHARLES MCILWAIN [continued]: their beliefs about particular public policiesare so that they can be more responsive to those needs.And so often, quantitative surveys and so forthare used to measure public opinion,how different groups of people view a particular social issueor political policy, what it is that they want or don't want

  • 20:36

    CHARLES MCILWAIN [continued]: or what they expect or don't expect from their government.And measuring these allows then government officialsand politicians to again be more responsiveor at least to know what it is their citizens want.Another example in which quantitative methods areapplied is in the workplace.Business owners, owners of companies,

  • 20:58

    CHARLES MCILWAIN [continued]: often know and realize that the success of their company,the success of their product, is in having a workforce,having employees that are satisfied with their work,satisfied with the physical conditions of their workplace,satisfied and motivated about the productsthat they're selling or the services that they are giving.

  • 21:21

    CHARLES MCILWAIN [continued]: And so often, employers use quantitative methods, surveys,focus groups in order to measure whatwe call "job satisfaction," to be able to tell whether or nottheir employees are indeed getting what it is that theyneed from their work and in turn, the degreethat they're allowing that to be channeled

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    CHARLES MCILWAIN [continued]: into the selling of their particular product.[Segment 6 Conclusion]

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    NARRATOR: Whether using experiments, surveys,or a variety of other possible methods,quantitative researchers or social scientistsare able to find causal connectionsbetween human behavior or make inferencesabout how human beings act, think, and feelabout their everyday actions and interactions with others.

Video Info

Publisher: SAGE Publications, Inc

Publication Year: 2006

Video Type:Tutorial

Methods: Quantitative data collection, Experimental design, Survey research

Keywords: administration; dating; depression; job satisfaction; political advertising; political ideology and voting; practices, strategies, and tools; racial attitudes; voting ... Show More

Segment Info

Segment Num.: 1

Persons Discussed:

Events Discussed:



The key concepts and methods of quantitative research are introduced in this video. Academics discuss the framework and application of experiments, surveys, and interviews-- including the strengths and shortcomings of each.

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Quantitative Research: Methods in the Social Sciences

The key concepts and methods of quantitative research are introduced in this video. Academics discuss the framework and application of experiments, surveys, and interviews-- including the strengths and shortcomings of each.

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