Each of us is confronted with decisions in our everyday lives that require us to gather and assess information on the different alternatives at hand and then make a decision. Examples of such decisions include the decision to attend college, buy a car or some other item, strike up a friendship with Person A or B, select a particular course, or take a trip to Point X or Y. You may have made an error in such decisions because your information was flawed by one or more of the errors of human inquiry that Babbie describes, or the decision may have been correct but for some of the wrong reasons. Recall and describe a decision you have made that may have been flawed to some extent because information was based on one or more of the errors of human inquiry.

1. Describe the decision.

2. Identify which of the errors of human inquiry as described by Babbie were involved in this decision. Explain how each error was committed.

3. Explain how a scientific approach would have helped reduce the effect of the error(s) of human inquiry in this decision.


Variables and their attributes (or values) are at the heart of examining relationships in the social sciences. Key to formulating such relationships are independent and dependent variables. Select two relationships, each involving both an independent variable and a dependent variable. Be sure to use social science variables. State each of the two relationships in a separate sentence. Each sentence should contain just two variables—an independent variable and a dependent variable—and should contain words which specify how the two variables are related to each other. The independent variable should be stated first in the sentence. You should then identify which is the independent variable and which is the dependent variable in each statement of a relationship. Then identify clearly the attributes of each variable. Review the examples in the text if you have difficulty with this exercise. Do not use examples from the text or from your instructor. Be sure to use social scientific variables.

A few examples of incorrect and correct examples follow.

Incorrect: “Men like Fords better than Volvos.” This is incorrect because there is only one variable, type of car liked. Men in this sentence is a constant, not a variable. Correct: “Men like cars more than women do.” The independent variable is gender (attributes: male, female) and the dependent variable is liking cars (attributes: like much, like some, like little, etc.).

Incorrect: “High school graduates and college graduates hold jobs.” This is incorrect because it really specifies a constant (holding jobs) that is associated with both attributes of the variable amount of education. Correct: “College graduates hold higher paying jobs than do high school graduates.” The independent variable is amount of education (attributes: high school graduate, college graduate) and the dependent variable is amount of income (attributes: less than $5,000, $5,001-$10,000, etc.).

Incorrect: “Intelligence is related to grades.” This statement does have two variables, but it is incorrect because the nature of the relationship is not specified. Correct: “The higher people’s intelligence, the higher will be their grades.” The independent variable is amount of intelligence (attributes: less than 70, 71-90, etc.) and the dependent variable is grades (attributes: A, B, etc.).

1. For your first relationship, identify the independent and dependent variables and describe the attributes of each. Remember to select social science variables.

  1. The relationship:
  1. The independent variable:
  1. The attributes of the independent variable:
  1. The dependent variable:
  1. The attributes of the dependent variable:

 2. For your second relationship, identify the independent and dependent variables and describe the attributes of each.

  1. The relationship:
  1. The independent variable:
  1. The attributes of the independent variable:
  1. The dependent variable:
  1. The attributes of the dependent variable:

Visit the Web site of the American Sociological Association (www.asanet.org) or the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (www.icpsr.umich.edu). Review the publicly available data sets described at there and select one that interests you.

  1. Identify the data set you chose.
  1. Describe the aggregate(s) the data set examines.
  1. List three social regularities that could be examined with the data set.
  1. Identify a dependent variable that is or might be included in the data set and note two independent variables that may be connected to that dependent variable.

A major focus of this chapter is the difference between deductive and inductive reasoning. Your assignment is to develop studies using each approach.


1. Identify a topic of interest. You might select religiosity, feminism, or occupational success if you cannot identify a topic.

2. Explain what your theory will address. It might be factors promoting religiosity, why some people are more feminist than others, or why some people are more successful in their occupations than others.

3. Specify the range of phenomena your theory addresses. All people? Women only? Americans only?

4. Identify and specify your major concepts and variables. Don’t just list your major concepts and variables, but actually develop and state your theory. Your theory does not have to be very complex. Keep in mind that a theory is an explanation of the causes of some phenomenon. Your theory may have one or more statements in it.

5. Derive at least one specific testable hypothesis, such as: younger females are more likely to be feminist than older females (now do not use this example). Be sure your hypothesis reflects a specific relationship between two variables.


Babbie describes the major social scientific paradigms. Identify and briefly summarize three major paradigms in one of the other disciplines you have encountered in college. Examples of disciplines include history, political science, economics, and psychology. Please note that the paradigms you describe will most likely be different from those discussed in the text; you need to identify the paradigms appropriate to the particular discipline you choose. Explain your choice of discipline and paradigms.


Paradigm # 1:

Paradigm # 2:

Paradigm # 3:


Listed below are several of the research situations noted in the chapter as well as some others. You are to rank order these situations in terms of how seriously they violate the ethical agreements discussed in the chapter and to explain the reasons for your rankings.

a. A psychology instructor asks students in an introductory class to complete questionnaires that the instructor will analyze and use in preparing a journal article for publication.

b. After a field study of deviant behavior during a riot, law enforcement officials demand that the researcher identify those persons who were observed looting. Rather than risk arrest as an accomplice after the fact, the researcher complies.

c. After completing the final draft of a book reporting a research project, the author discovers that 25 of the 2,000 survey interviews were falsified by interviewers but chooses to ignore that fact and publish the book anyway.

d. A Ph.D. candidate gains access to an underground mine as a researcher-employee by telling management that he has a BA degree and wants to get some practical experience before going on for a degree in metallic engineering.

e. A college instructor wants to test the effect of unfair berating on exam performance. She administers an exam to both sections of a course. The overall performance of the two sections is essentially the same. The grades of one section are artificially lowered and the instructor berates the students for performing so badly. She then administers the same final exam to both sections and discovers that the performance of the unfairly berated section is worse. The hypothesis is confirmed, and the results are published.

f. In a study of sexual behavior, the investigator wants to overcome subjects’ reluctance to report what they might regard as deviant behavior. To get past their reluctance, subjects are asked, “Everyone masturbates now and then; about how often do you masturbate?”

g. A researcher discovers that 85 percent of students smoke marijuana regularly at a school. Publication of this finding will probably create a furor in the community. Because no extensive analysis of drug use is planned, the researcher decides to ignore the finding and keep it quiet.

h. To test the extent to which people may try to save face by expressing attitudes on matters they are wholly uninformed about, the researcher asks for their attitudes regarding a fictitious issue.

i. A research questionnaire is circulated among students as part of their university registration packet. Although students are not told they must complete the questionnaire, the hope is that they will believe they must, thereby ensuring a higher completion rate.

j. A researcher promises participants in a study a summary of the results. Later, due to a budget cut, the summary is not sent out.

k. A professor rewrites a thesis of one of his or her graduate students into an article and lists himself/herself as the sole author.

l. A panel of reputable social scientists is pressing for Congressional approval of a National Data Service, which would combine all data on particular individuals into one master data file. The advantages of such a center would be reduced duplicity of efforts and an increased number of variables per individual.

1. For each of the above issues, identify what you believe to be the one or two ethical principles that are most apparent in the situation. Explain why.













2. Place each situation in one of the following three groups:

          Minor ethical         Moderate ethical     Severe ethical
           violations             violations           violations

3. Explain the criteria that you used in your rankings.


Listed below are some goals and techniques associated with “ethical” social science research. Describe briefly how each might conflict with one or more of the “scientific” norms of social research discussed in the first few chapters. Use real or hypothetical research examples to illustrate your answers. For each ethical norm be sure to describe a specific scientific norm that it would conflict with, and be sure to present a real or hypothetical example of how each conflict might occur and what the conflict would be about. Also, for each conflict, indicate which norm—the ethical or the scientific—you would decide to go along with and explain why you made the decision you did.

1. Voluntary participation.

a. How it conflicts with a scientific norm:

b. Example of conflict:

c. Which norm you would follow and why:

2. Anonymity and confidentiality.

a. How it conflicts with a scientific norm:

b. Example of conflict:

c. Which norm you would follow and why:

3. No harm to subjects.

a. How it conflicts with a scientific norm:

b. Example of conflict:

c. Which norm you would follow and why:

4. Identifying yourself as a researcher.

a. How it conflicts with a scientific norm:

b. Example of conflict:

c. Which norm you would follow and why:

5. Identifying the sponsor of your research.

a. How it conflicts with a scientific norm:

b. Example of conflict:

c. Which norm you would follow and why:


Visit the Web site of the American Sociological Association (www.asanet.org) or the site for the British Sociological Association (kennedy.soc.surrey.ac.uk/socresonline/ info/ethguide.html) and review the code of ethics (there is no www. for the second site).

1. Cite the language that addresses each of the issues Babbie addresses: voluntary participation, no harm to subjects, anonymity and confidentiality, the researcher’s identity, and analysis and reporting.

2. Summarize the code’s content about the politics of social research.

3. Identify three other topics addressed in the code and summarize the content.


A key focus of this chapter is determinism—identifying factors (independent variables) that affect other factors (dependent variables). Your assignment is to practice identifying these variables. Be sure to select social scientific variables. Avoid examples used  in the text.

For example, my causal hypothesis might be, “the higher the incidence of poverty in a community, the higher the crime rate.” I am assuming that poverty is a cause of crime. In order to answer question 5, I am going to have to show and describe how the three criteria for causation can be applied to my example. The alternative arguments or factors that should be examined before accepting your causal hypothesis refer to the third requirement for a causal relationship—the correlation cannot be explained away by some third variable. For example, perhaps I should examine education; low education can cause poverty, and also low education may prevent people from getting jobs and that may cause them to turn to crime. Hence, there may be no real relationship between poverty and crime once education is controlled. Or perhaps I should examine the proportion of minorities in a community. If discrimination against minorities exists, then the more minority people, the greater the poverty. Also, police may be more likely to arrest minorities. These variables may account for the relationship between poverty and crime in my hypothesis.

1. Identify a dependent variable—some event, behavior, or attitude that varies from time to time and whose variation you wish to explain.

2. Identify an independent variable whose variation you believe might explain variation in the dependent variable you described above.

3. State a causal hypothesis for your independent and dependent variables.

4. Explain why you expect the relationship noted in # 3.

5. Describe the three criteria that need to be met before you can reasonably argue that there is a causal relationship between your two variables. In your discussion, note at least one alternative argument or factor that should be examined before accepting your causal hypothesis (this reflects the third criterion). Apply this alternative factor to your specific hypothesis. Remember that an alternative variable must be related to both your independent and dependent variables such that it explains away the relationship between the independent and dependent variables, in the same way that the size of a fire explains away the relationship between the number of fire trucks on the scene and the amount of damage that occurs. Show how your alternative variable is related to both your independent and dependent variables.


Identify two examples of cause-and-effect relationships in everyday life that may have reasonable alternative explanations. Next, provide the apparent reason for each relationship. Finally, provide at least one possible alternative explanation for each of your two examples. For example, I might hypothesize that education causes greater tolerance of alternative viewpoints. However, simply growing older (instead of going to college) may cause both greater tolerance and more education such that the original hypothesized relationship between education and tolerance is spurious. As another example, I might hypothesize that the more copies of Playboy and Penthouse that are sold in an area, the greater the rape rate in that area. However, the proportion of single men in an area may affect both the sales of Playboy and Penthouse as well as the rape rate such that the original hypothesized relationship between sales of those magazines and the rape rate is spurious.

1. First hypothesized relationship:

2. Apparent reason for the relationship:

3. Alternative explanation for the relationship:

4. Second hypothesized relationship:

5. Apparent reason for the relationship:

6. Alternative explanation for the relationship:


Review a few issues of one of the news magazines, such as U.S. News & World Report (www.usnews.com), Time (www.time.com), or Newsweek (www.newsweek. com). Find an article that addresses some social scientific research.

  1. Note the article title and briefly summarize the research.
  1. Identify the dependent and independent variables.
  1. Assess how clearly the time order of the relationship is established.
  1. If the article reports data, comment on the strength of the relationship.
  1. Identify one alternative argument or factor that may “explain away” the reported relationship.

This exercise involves giving examples for the different units of analysis. Do not use examples from the text, the review questions, or this paragraph. Students often confuse groups and organizations. Think of groups as smaller units than organizations, although in both instances you are studying the collectivity instead of the individuals within the collectivity. Hence your family would be a group and General Motors would be an organization. Also, groups have a specific group boundary; families are groups but women or blacks are categories of individuals. Finally, people typically generally know all or most of the other members in a group but not in an organization. So, a local sorority would be a group but the national sorority would be an organization. The adult Sunday School class would be a group but the larger church would be an organization.

Provide specific examples for each of the following. Do not use the examples provided in each item. An example for #1, individuals doing something: a study of the voting behavior in this fall’s election among students living in a fraternity or sorority.

An example for #9, organizations with some characteristic that describes them: a study of high schools in a city to determine how many are private and how many or public.

1. Individuals doing something (like voting):

2. Individuals holding an attitude (like supporting abortion):

3. Individuals with some characteristic that describes them (like race):

4. Groups doing something (like rioting):

5. Groups holding an attitude (like wanting to save the environment):

6. Groups with some characteristic that describes them (like being disorganized):

7. Organizations doing something (like engaging in mergers):

8. Organizations holding an attitude (like resisting governmental controls):

9. Organizations with some characteristic that describes them (like being small or large):

10. Social artifacts reflecting some action (like church records showing how many elections of church leaders were held):

11. Social artifacts reflecting some attitude (like letters to the editor showing how upset people were about a scandal):

12. Social artifacts reflecting some characteristic (like an analysis of diaries showing how they differ between the 1990s and the 1940s):


Select a social scientific topic of interest and identify one variable. This variable should be something that can vary over time and that is related to the variable age. Examples might include: voting in an election, level of prejudice, or weight. Think of other examples. Then show how that variable could be studied in relationship to the independent variable of age in each of the four research designs noted in the chapter: cross-sectional, trend, cohort, and panel. Explain why for each design.

Your variable:

Cross-sectional study:

Trend study:

Cohort study:

Panel study:


Select one of the following concepts: religiosity, feminism, patient anxiety, or marital happiness. Go through the measurement process by completing the steps below. In the first question, describe the conceptualization process that you would go through in measuring the concept you selected. Explain how (i.e., where you would get your ideas on what to include in your definition) you would develop a nominal definition for it, how you would develop an operational definition of it, and how you would actually measure it. In the second question, be sure your nominal definition of the concept makes sense. Your indicators (in the third question) should be measures of the various characteristics or qualities that you have stated in your nominal definition; that is, your indicators should correspond to your nominal definition.

1. Describe the conceptualization process you would employ to measure this concept. Be specific. Be sure your response reflects the conceptualization process.

2. Provide a nominal definition of the concept.

3. Describe indicators you would use in developing your operational definition.


Grade point average (GPA) is often assumed to measure the intelligence of a student relative to that of other students. Give two reasons why GPA may not be reliable and two reasons why GPA may not be valid as a measure of the intelligence of college students. Make sure your reasons regarding reliability address the consistency or repeatability of the elements comprising GPA and your reasons regarding validity address the extent to which GPA measures intelligence.

Problems of reliability:

Problems of validity:


Sue is 20 years old and Mary is 40 years old. Write a simple statement regarding Sue’s and Mary’s ages that illustrates each of the levels of measurement.

1. Nominal:

2. Ordinal:

3. Interval:

4. Ratio:


You are to develop a semantic differential scale for a concept of interest. Be sure to follow the advice presented in the chapter.

1. Identify your concept.

2. List at least five dimensions that adequately reflect your concept. Remember, dimensions are different aspects of a variable. For example, religiosity has a belief dimension, a ritual dimension, an experiential dimension, and so forth.

3. Set up the items to resemble Figure 6-5 in the text, and include both the polar opposite terms and the ratings in between.

4. Describe how you would score the results.


Develop a typology in an area of interest. Explain why you selected the two or more dimensions in your typology. Present your typology in a format like that in Table 6-4 in the text. Explain the typology and show how it could be used in a research study. Be specific.

As you construct your typology, be sure that each of the cells makes sense. For each cell in the table, be sure you can imagine some person (or whatever your unit of analysis) who could have the combination of qualities described for that cell.

1. Identify your area of interest.

2. Identify the two or more dimensions in your typology and explain why you selected them.

3. Present your typology in a format like that in Table 6-4 in the text.

4. Explain your typology and show how it could be used in a research study.

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