Chapter 6 - Chapter 6: Causation and experimental design...

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Chapter 6: Causation and experimental design 14:52 Causation in social research Identifying causes – figuring out why things happen – is the goal of most  social science research. Valid explanations of the causes of social phenomena do not come easily  because social relations are complex and difficult to study in a controlled way To determine which possibilities could contribute to the causes of something,  we must design out a research strategy Causal explanation A cause is an explanation for some characteristic, attitude, or behavior of  groups, individuals, or other entities (such as families, organizations, or cities)  or for events example o That a new drug will reduce asthma symptoms o That a new math curriculum will increase students performances Most social scientists seeks causal explanations for their hypothesis o The independent variable is the presumed caused, and the dependant  variable is the potential effect. What is the Causal effect? When a change in the independent variable leads to change in the dependent  variable, ceteris paribus (other things being equal) o Important so can rule out that something else is in fact the cause.  o Example: individuals arrested for domestic assault tend to commit fewer  subsequent assaults than similar individuals who are accused in the same  circumstances but are not arrested.  Criteria for establishing a causal relationship Three key criteria: you must establish these 3 to claim a causal relationship o 1. Empirical association o 2. Temporal Priority of the independent variable o 3. Non-spuriousness Two additional criteria for strengthening a causal inference
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o 1. Identifying a causal mechanism o 2. Specifying the context in which the effect occur. Research designs that allow us to establish these criteria require careful  planning, implementation, and analysis Many times, researchers have to leave one or more of the criteria unmet and  are left with some important doubts about the validity  Association There is an empirical (observed) association between the independent and  dependant variables. o
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This note was uploaded on 07/03/2011 for the course PUBLIC HEA 305 taught by Professor Sherry during the Spring '08 term at Rutgers.

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Chapter 6 - Chapter 6: Causation and experimental design...

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