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Lecture 3 PowerPoint - POL 2156B FOUNDATIONS OF RESEARCH...

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POL 2156B FOUNDATIONS OF RESEARCH Thinking in the Language of Variables
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LECTURE PLAN Language of variables Independent and dependent variables Avoiding tautologies The logic of causal order Antecedent and intervening variables Units of analysis
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THE LANGUAGE OF VARIABLES Variable: A coherent grouping of attributes which is both mutually exclusive and exhaustive coherent grouping : characteristics that seem to fit together logically, that we can compare mutually exclusive : must be able to classify any single person, place, or thing in terms of only one attribute exhaustive : must be able to classify every single person, place, or thing you’re observing in terms of one of the attributes in that coherent grouping of attributes
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EXAMPLES OF VARIABLES FOR PEOPLE, PLACES (COUNTRIES), AND THINGS (POLICIES) Type of observation Examples of Variables Examples of Attributes (Values) in that Variable Individuals Age 18 years old, 19 years old, 20 years old, etc. Gender Male, Female Party Affiliation Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Green, etc. Countries Population 10 million, 12, million, 30 million, etc. Social Welfare Spending Effort 10% of GDP, 14 % of GDP, 25% of GDP, etc. Public Policies Cost $10 billion, $15 billion, etc. Policy area Finance, health care, employment, environment Year enacted 1995, 2001, 2002
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INDEPENDENT AND DEPENDENT VARIABLES Variables that influence or determine the values of other variables are called independent variables (or input variables, or explanatory variables, or predictor variables, or X variables) Variables whose values are determined by other variables are called dependent variables (or output variables, or explained variables, or Y variables) X Y
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EXERCISE 1 Determine whether the statement can allow you to test a relationship between two concepts. If so, what would the hypothesis be? “Access to health care is a fundamental right” “It is less expensive to imprison a convicted murderer for life than it is to rehabilitate him or her” “Since marijuana has no substantial, systematic effect on the brain, laws against this drug should be repealed “It doesn’t make any sense to vote because so many ballots are cast in an election that no single vote is going to make a difference in the outcome “The average high school dropout is in worse health than the average 65-year- old university graduate”
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CONCEPTS A concept is like a file in a mental filing cabinet. When someone says “democracy,” for example, each of us rifles through our file drawer and digs out a file labeled “democracy”. But each of our files might be different file. Some concepts are pretty easy to grasp, because everyone understands them and agrees on them (e.g.
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