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Chapter 2

a logical system that bases knowledge on direct, systematic observation


information we can verify with our senses

empirical evidence

the study of society based on systematic observation of social behavior

positivist sociology

assumes that an objective reality exists "out there" that can be discovered by gathering empirical evidence

positivist sociology

a mental construct that represents some part of the world in a simplified form


sociologists use ___ to label aspects of social life like "the family", "the economy", and "social class"


a concept whose value changes from case to case


a procedure for determining the value of a variable in a specific case


specifying exactly what is to be measured before assigning a value to a variable

operationalize a variable

in order for a measurement to be useful, it must be both ___ and ___

reliable and valid

consistency in measurement


actually measuring exactly what you intend to measure


(T/F) Consistency guarantees validity


a relationship in which change in one variable causes change in another

cause and effect

the variable that causes the change

independent variable

the variable that changes

dependent variable

a relationship in which two or more variables change together


an apparent but false relationship between two or more variables that is caused by some other variable

spurious correlation

holding constant all variables except one in order to see clearly the effect of that variable


personal neutrality in conducting research


one way to limit distortion caused by personal values


repetition of research by other investigators


the study of society that focuses on the meanings people attach to their social world

interpretive sociology

positivist sociology focuses on __ because that is what be observed directly


interpretive sociology focuses on

people's understandings of their actions

the study of society that focuses on the need for social change

critical sociology

ask moral and political questions as opposed to scientific questions

critical sociologists

rejects the positivist claim that researchers should try to be "objective" and limit their work to studying the status quo

critical sociology

seek to change the character of research as well as society itself

critical sociologists

often identify with their research subjects personally and encourage them to help decide what to study and how to do the work

critical sociologists

object taking sides and being personally involved or biased

positivist sociologists

the personal traits and social positions that members of a society attach to being male or female


approaches an issue from the male perspective


approaches an issue from the female perspective


researchers use data drawn from people of only one sex to support conclusions about "humanity" or "society"


failing to consider gender at all

gender blindness

researchers distorting what they study by judging men and women differently

double standard

a subject reacting to the sex of the researcher which interferes with the research operation


a systematic plan for doing research

research method

a research method for investigating cause and effect under highly controlled conditions


a statement of a possible relationship between two or more variables


a change in a subject's behavior caused simply by the awareness of being studied

Hawthorne effect

a research method in which subjects respond to a series of statements or questions on a questionnaire or in an interview


typically yield descriptive findings


the people who are the focus of research


a part of a population that represents the whole


researchers draw a sample from the population at random so that every person in the population has an equal chance of being selected

random sample

a series of written questions a researcher presents to subjects


a questionnaire that offers a narrow range of responses that makes it fairly easy to analyze the results, but can also distort findings

closed-ended format

questionnaire type allowing subjects to respond freely, expressing various shades of opinion

open-ended format

a survey in which the examiner mails or e-mails questionnaires to respondents and asks them to complete it and send it back

self-administered survey

a series of questions a researcher asks respondents in person


interviewing people then asking them to suggest others

snowball sampling

a research method in which investigators systematically observe people while joining them in their routine activities

participant observation

reasoning that transforms specific observations into general theory

inductive logical thought

reasoning that transforms general theory into specific hypotheses suitable for testing

deductive logical thought

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