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Quantitative data analysis requires the construction of two types of measures of variables-indices and scales. These measures are frequently used and are important since social

scientists often study variables that possess no clear and unambiguous indicators--for

instance, age or gender. Researchers often centralize much of work in regards to the

attitudes and orientations of a group of people, which require several items to provide

indication of the variables. Secondly, researchers seek to establish ordinal categories from

very low to very high (vice-versa), which single data items can not ensure, while an index or

scale can.

Although they exhibit differences (which will later be discussed) the two have in common

various

factors.

Both:

are composite measures of variables (measurements based on more than one one

data item)

Indices are a sum of series of individual yes/no questions, that are then combined in a single

numeric

score.

They are usually a measure of the quantity of some social phenomenon and are constructed

at a ratio level of measurement. More sophisticated indices weigh individual items according

to their importance in the concept being measured (i.e. in a multiple choice test where

different questions are worth different numbers of points). Some interval-level indices are

not weight counted, but contain other indexes or scales within them (i.e. college admissions

that score an applicant based on GPA, SAT scores, essays, and place a different point from

each source).

Index Construction

Item Selection

o

a concept.

specifically or generally the variable that is measured.

Variance--to guarantee variance you can a)select several items the responses

to which divide people about equally in terms of the variable b)select items

differing in variance

Index Scoring

o

Determine whether to give each item in the index equal or different weights

unless there are reasons not to.

o

You may decide to exclude them from the construction of the index and

analyses

Index Validation

o Item analysis

an assessment of whether each of the items included in the measure makes an

independent contribution or merely duplicates the contribution of other items in the

measure

External validation

tests the validity by examining its relationship to other presumed indicators of the

same variable.

Scales

In order to discuss a scale, we must define it. A scale is a measure of the intensity of

an attitude or emotion. Specifically, scales exist in the ordinal level of data. Usually

scales are constructed using the ordinal level of measurement, which organizes items

in an order in order to determine degrees of favor or disfavor, but does not provide

any meaning of distance between degrees.

The Likert scale is one of the most commonly used scales in the research community.

The scale consists of assigning a numerical value to intensity (or neutrality) of

emotion about a specific topic, and then attempts to standardize these response

categories to provide an interpretation of the relative intensity of items on the scale.

Responses such as strongly agree, moderately agree, moderately disagree, and

strongly disagree are responses that would likely be found in a likert scale, or a

survey based upon the scale.

The semantic differential scale is similar to Likert scaling, however, rather than

allowing varying degrees of response, it asks the respondent to rate something in

terms of only two completely opposite adjectives.

An example of a scale used in real-life situations is the Bogardus Social Distance

Scale. This scale, developed by Emory Bogardus is used to determine peoples

willingness to associate and socialize with people who are unlike themselves,

including those of other races, religions, and classes.

Thurstone scaling is quite unlike Bogardus or Likert scaling. Developed by Louis

Thurstone, this scale is a format that seeks to use respondents both to answer survey

questions, and to determine the importance of the questions. One group of

respondents, a group of judges, assign various weights to different variables, while

another group actually answers the questions on the survey

Guttman scaling, developed by Louis Guttman, is the type of scaling used most

today. Guttman scaling, like the Thurstone scale, recognizes that different questions

provide different intensities of indication of preferences. It is based upon the

assumption that the agreement with the strongest indicators also signifies agreement

with weaker indicators. It uses a simple agree or disagree scale, without any

variation

in

the

intensities

of

preference.

There are two misconceptions of scaling, one of which is the combination of data into

a scale is influenced by the observation of the sample of the study. Thus the data of

one scale from a sample may not comply with another scale. Therefore that

combination of data can be scaled multiple times because it was originally was able

to earlier in the study. A second misconception pertains to specific scales. By this,

given items or data may aid in determine what constitutes as a scale opposed to a

scale itself.

Scales versus Indices

In general, scales are considered to function better than indexes, due to the fact that

scales usually consider intensity of the questions they ask and feelings they measure,

despite the fact that both are ordinal measures.

One example of a weighted index is the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index

(CPI), which represents the sum of the prices of goods that a typical consumer would

purchase. When computing this index, the goods are weighted according to how many of

them are purchased in the general population (relative to other goods), so that items

purchased with greater frequency will have a greater impact on the value of the index.

Sampling

Why sample?

subset of the population. That information can be used to represent the greater

population.

How to sample:

generalizations will be made

The target population is the pool of cases that a researcher wants to study.

Target populations are turned into practical lists of potential subjects using a

sampling frame

Nonprobability Sampling

any technique in which samples are selected in some way not suggested by

probability theory.

Nonprobability sampling is usually the only method that is practical for field research

and comparative historical research

relies on available subjects

Researchers must be very cautious about generalizing when this method is used

be observed are selected on the basis of the researcher's judgment about which ones will be

the most useful or representative

two-group comparison

deviant cases

may be asked to suggest additional people for interviewing

often used in field research, as well for the study of special populations

Quota Sampling: a nonprobability sampling method in which units are selected into a sample

on the basis of pre-specified characteristics, so that the total sample will have the same

distribution of characteristics assumed to exist in the population being studied

'Hidden Populations: groups in society that usually fall through the cracks of traditional

probability sampling methods

Include: drug addicts, hacker communities, the homeless, illegal immigrants, migrant

workers, college students, etc.

In targeted sampling cases are gathered from a specific community through chain

referrals with pre-set quotas for known strata

in additional subjects from the population of interest

Probability Sampling

Probability sampling when done properly will offer a truer representation of the

population at hand.

if all members of a population were identical in all respects, there would be no need

for careful sampling procedures. (however, this is rarely the same)

a sample of individuals from a population must contain the same variations that exist

in the population

Probability samples are typically more representative than other types of samples

because biases are less common

This is very difficult to accomplish, and often is not 100% accurately done.

Probability

theory

permits

representativeness of a sample

researchers

to

estimate

the

accuracy

or

EPSEM (Equal probability of selection method) samples are samples where every

member of the population has an equal chance of selection for the sample.

Sampling Bias

Sampling bias occurs when the sample is not classic or representative of the larger

population.

This isn't always done purposefully. Often, factors such as a researcher's location,

ease of access to the population, and personal comfort level towards approaching

random strangers, have an influence on bias.

Sampling Designs

numbers and a set of random numbers is generated using a random number

generator.

included in sample.

meaningful groups of interest (genders, races, etc) and a random sample is taken

from each group.

Multistage cluster sampling: 'natural' groups (ex: cities) are initially sampled with

smaller subsets (city blocks) sampled thereafter.

Sampling is Important

Poor sampling reduces the validity of using study results to make population

inferences.

To preface, Probability theory is a branch of mathematics that provides the tools need

to do accurate research--mathematical sampling methods, statistical analysis, and

methods of finding parameters of populations. Probability theory uses sample

distributions to accomplish this.

Results of research are typically graphed as dots, with the mean each sample taken

being represented as one dot on the x-axis. As research is repeated, means of

samples often are duplicated, so their dots are simply placed on top of their

duplicates. The number of samples with certain means is represented on the y axis.

As more and more people are surveyed, the graphs get taller and taller, until usually

one true mean is left standing alone in the middle.

taking the square root of: parameters P and Q, multiplied by each other, divided by

the number of cases in each sample. This is an important number to know because it

gives the researcher an idea of how far around the population parameter the

numbers are going to be distributed.

68% of sample estimates will fall within one standard deviation either above or below the

parameter. 95% of sample estimates will fall within two standard deviations either above or

below the parameter. 99.9% of sample estimates will fall within three standard deviations

either above or below the parameter. If one of the parameters is 1.0 or 0.0, the standard

deviation will be 0. Standard error decreases as sample size increases.

estimated to lie.

confidence interval.

These numbers are generally determined by making one's best guess, then giving or taking

a reasonable number (For instance, if you feel that 20% of a population is going to posess a

certain characteristic, you can initially set your confidence interval to be between 10 and

30%.)

When the sample is too small, a finite population correction is calculated. This is

represented by the square root of: The population size minus the size of the sample,

DIVIDED BY The population size minus one.

Populations and Sampling Frames

selected (ex. a census block)

A sampling frame must obviously coinside with the population being studied.

the sampling frame.

Simple Random Sampling: "Basic sampling method" usually used in social research. The

researcher usually acquires a sampling frame, then randomly selects numbers. This is done

by computer if possible.

Systematic sampling: A list of potential subjects is acquired, and every kth element in the

total list is chosen for inclusion. The first subject should be randomly chosen. It turns out to

be about the same as random sampling, but more tedious to do and therefore less

commonly used. Systematic sampling utilizes: a sampling interval, the distance between

selected sujects (population size / sample size) the proportion of subjects in the sample :

potential subjects in the population

Stratified Sampling: Modification to sampling that involves dividing the population into

homogenoous strata before forming samples to increase representativeness within groups. It

presents the advantage of reducing the sampling error with its homogenity, but also

presents the disadvantage of increasing sampling error with its smaller sample sizes. It

enhances the presentation of whatever variable is being used to divide the groups.

Stratification works with simple random, systematic, or cluster sampling. One accomplishes

this by simpling whichever methods they had planned on using, but within the startified

groups. Stratification variables are the characteristics that are being used to stratify the

sample.

Multistage Sample Clustering: Involves the steps of listing, then sampling. Cluster sampling

is accomplished when one takes advantage of different subpopulations in order to achieve a

sample. For instance, subjects are pulled from one specific neighborhood to answer

questions about city government. Elements are selected from their location, then analyzed

for characteristics that would make them good subjects for specific research. Appropriate

subjects are then selected according to the data. This can produce a more biased sample.

Sometimes, such as in medical research, this is desired. The problem arises that as the

number of clusters increases, the number of elements must also increase. Normally,

elements are homogenized more in these cases. Researchers are often limited to a

maximum number of subjects. Ideally, researchers desire a large number of clusters and a

the smallest possible acceptale number of elements.

Weighting Samples

that had different chances of being slected.

Often, that can mean skewing how many people are selected from a certain area to

ensure that the appropriate ratios of characteristics are maintained.

Terms

Representativeness: the sample's distribution of characteristics remains true to the

population it is sampling

EPSEM: sampling where every member of a population has an equal chance of selection

element: any piece of a population--can be a member, a location, or a measurable

characteristic

study population: contains all necessary characteristics for study; sample is selected from

here

random selection: sampling method, every member of a population has an equal chance of

selection

sampling unit: person or group of people considered for selection

parameter: variable factor within a population

statistic: a description of a variable within a sample

sampling error: degree of error expected by not studying an entire population

confidence interval: range of values within which a population parameter is estimated to

lie.

confidence level: probability that a population parameter is within a certain confidence

interval

sampling frame: list of people that possess the qualities eligible for research

weighting: assigning different weights to subjects displaying different probabilities of

selection

variables.

Often, individuals may seek to put variables into an organized format. This is where

typologies come into play. Typologies consist of the sets of categories created by the

intersection of multiple variables.

Other Important terminology: Correlation: An empirical relationship two variables such that

1. changes in one are associated with changes in the other or 2. particular attributes of one

variable are associated with particular attributes of the other. Correlation in and of itself

does not constitute a casual relationship between the two variables, but it is one creation of

causality. Spurious Relationship: A coincidental statistical correlation between two variables,

shown to be caused by some third variable. Units of Analysis: The what or whom being

studied. In social science research, the most typical units of analysis are individual people.

Social Artifact: Any product of social beings or their behavior. Can be a unit of analysis.

Ecological Fallacy: Erroneously drawing conclusions about individuals solely from the

observation of groups. Reductionism: A fault of some researches: a strict limitation

(reduction) of the kinds of concepts to be considered relevant to the phenomenon under

study. Sociobiology: A paradigm based in the view that social behavior can be explained

solely in terms of genetic characteristics and behavior Cross-sectional Study: A study based

on observation representing a single point in time. Longitudinal Study: A study design

involving the collection of data at different points in time. Trend Study: A type of longitudinal

study in which a given characteristic of some population is monitored over time. An example

would be the series of Gallup Polls showing the electorate's preferences for political

candidates over the course of a campaign, even hough different samples were interviewed

at each point. Cohort Study: A study in which some specific subpopulation, or cohort, is

studied over time, although data may be collected from different members in each set of

observations. For example, a study of the questionnaires were sent every five years would

be a cohort study. Panel Study: A type of longitudinal study, in which data are collected from

the same set of people (the sample or panel) at several points in time.

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