Section IV.
Exploring Ways of Understanding Your Interests:
Propositions, Theory, and Hypotheses
Proposition
A statement of relationship between or among two concepts
Test propositions with data
Are hypotheses; none can ever be "proven" absolutely true
Vary in abstraction level
Occur under certain conditions
Typologies to evaluate the nature of the relationship
Typology 1
Causal or Associated
Is there merely an association between two concepts or is there a causal relationship?
If the relationship is determined causal, it may be controllable
Causality is difficult to determine
Directionality
Can be positive or negative
Positive relationship: as a change occurs in one variable, a similar change occurs in the
other (as x goes up, y goes up or as x goes down, y goes down)
Negative/inverse relationship: the variables change in an opposite manner (as x goes up,
y goes down)
Shape
The curve of the relationship between the graphed variables
Used to describe the relationship mathematically
Relationship may be linear or nonlinear, i.e., it can take any shape. We try to describe
that shape mathematically
Strength
The percent of variance in Y explained by X (r2  the square of the correlation
coefficient between the two variables;
this does not indicate causality
, only the strength
of the relationship. More on this later).
Conditions under which the relationship holds true
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Most, if not all, relationships among variables found in the social sciences are
conditional, i.e., the relationship is contingent on the presence of other variables or
conditions
Typology 2
(Hans Zetterberg 
On Theory and Verification in Sociology
)
Reversible or Irreversible
Can the statement of relationship be reversed and retain the meaning?
i.e., A leads to B and B leads to A vs. A leads to B but B never leads to A.
Deterministic or Stochastic
Deterministic: the relationship always occurs
Stochastic: the relationship occurs a certain % of the time
i.e., A always leads to B vs. A sometimes leads to B.
Sequential or Coextensive
Sequential: if x then later y will occur
Coextensive: if x then immediately y will occur
Sufficient or Contingent
Will the relationship occur by itself or is it contingent on another variable?
i.e., if A then B regardless of anything else vs. if A then B only if C is present
Necessary or Substitutable
Is one necessary for the relationship or will other variables have the same reaction?
i.e., is TV violence necessary for children to be aggressive or are there other variables
that will make them aggressive? If A and only if A, then B vs. if A then B, if C than B
Theory
A set of interrelated propositions from which a testable hypothesis can be deduced
A general proposition
Can explain past and present reality and predict future realities
Most important criteria for a theory: utility in prediction and explanation, parsimony,
symmetry
Hypothesis
A specific prediction based on the theory
Two logical methods:
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 Fall '06
 EdwardWotring
 Propositions and Theory

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