IN THE BEHAVIORAL
Material in this chapter draws on ideas from a number of my earlier publications,
McGrath, J.E., 1984; McGrath and Brinberg, 1984; Brinberg and McGrath, 1985;
Runkel and McGrath, 1972; McGrath, Martin, and Kulka, 1982.
simply means the systematic use of some set of theoreti-
cal and empirical tools to try to increase our understanding
of some set of phenomena
or events. In the social
states and actions of hwnan
er social entities
and the by-products
of those actions.
in any area of science,
tied to the
means or methods by which that evidence was obtained. Hence, to understand
cal evidence, its meaning,
and its limitations,
requires that you understand
and techniques on which that evidence
is about some of the tools with which researchers
in the social and
behavioral sciences go about "doing"
research. It raises some issues about strategy, tac-
tics and operations.
it points out some of the inherent limits, as well as the
potential strengths, of various features of the research process by which behavioral
social scientists do research.
SOMEBASICFEATURESOF THE RESEARCHPROCESS
Doing research, in the behavioral and social sciences, always involves bringing
together three sets of things:
that is of interest,
that give meaning
to that content, and
by means of which those
ideas and contents can be studied.
For example, the contents
of a study might involve the behavior of a jury, conversa-
tions in a family about buying a new car, the voting behavior of members
of a commu-
nity, littering in a park, courtship
patterns in a small town, and so forth. The ideas might
include the concept of attitudes,
the notion that education
the concept of conformity,
that groups whose members
like one anoth-
er perform tasks better than groups whose members do not like each other, and so forth.
to assess individual
car or a candidate
or group mates; a set of procedures for observing
about cars and money; a means to gather election returns; a plan to evaluate the quali-
ty of group task products;
and so forth.
I will refer to these three sets of things more formally, as three distinct, though inter-
from which we draw contents that seem worthy of
our study and attention;
from which we draw ideas that seem likely to give
meaning to our results;
from which we draw techniques