A question about the social world that is answered through the collection and analysis of firsthand, verifiable, empirical data.
A logically interrelated set of propositions about empirical reality.
Rational Choice Theory
A social theory that explains individual action with the principle that actors choose actions that maximize their gains from taking that action.
Identifies conflict between social groups as the primary force in society. Understanding the bases and consequences of the conflict is key to understanding social processes.
Symbolic Interaction Theory
Focuses on the symbolic nature of social interaction -- how social interaction conveys meaning and promotes socialization.
A diagram of the elements of the research process, including theories, hypotheses, data collection, and data analysis.
The type of research in which a specific expectation is decuded from a general premise and is then tested.
A tentative statement about empirical reality, involving a relationship between two or more variables.
Example: The higher the poverty rate in a community, the higher the percentage of community residents who are homeless.
A characteristic or property that can vary (take on different values or attributes).
Example: The degree of honesty in verbal statements.
A variable that is hypothesized to cause, or lead to, variation in another variable.
Example: Poverty rate.
A variable that is hypothesized to vary depending on, or under the influence of, another variable.
Example: Percentage of community residents who are homeless.
Direction of Association
A pattern in a relationship between two variables -- the values of variables tend to change consistently in relation to change on the other variable. The direction of association can be either positive or negative.
A statement that describes patterns found in data.
Repetitions of a study using the same research methods to answer the same research question.
The type of research in which general conclusions are drawn from specific data.
Serendipitous or Anomalous Findings
Unexpected patterns in data, which stimulate new ideas or theoretical approaches. Also known as anomalous findings.
The state that exists when statements or conclusions about empirical reality are correct.
Exists when a measure measures what we think it measures.
Exists when a conclusion holds true for the population, group, setting, or event that we say it does, given the conditions that we specify.
Casual Validity (Internal Validity)
Exists when a conclusion that A leads to or results in B is correct.
When the understanding of a social process or social setting is one that reflects fairly the various perspectives of participants in that setting.
Exists when a conclusion based on a sample, or subset, of a larger population holds true for that population.
Exists when findings about one group, population, or setting hold true for other groups, populations, or settings.
Institutional Review Board (IRB)
A group of organizational and community representatives required by federal law to review the ethical issues in all proposed research that is federally funded, involves human subjects, or has any potential for harm to subjects.