While no approach including the experiment is immune

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Seeing Through Statistics
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Chapter 13 / Exercise 27
Seeing Through Statistics
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While no approach, including the experiment, is immune from researcher bias when in the hands of an incompetent or poorly trained researcher, some approaches are at greater risk for this problem even when conducted by capable people. Why is the case study more at risk? The case study method involves considerably more interaction between the researcher and the subjects than most other research methods. In addition, it is from the researcher's journals of his or her subjects that the data comes from. While this might also be supplemented by test scores and more objective measures, it is the researcher that brings all this together in the form of a descriptive "case study" of the individual(s) in question.A final problem with case studies is that the small number of cases examined make it unlikely that they represent those who may have similar problems or abilities as those studied. This problem means we might not be able to generalize (apply) the study's findings to other people with similar problems. Thus, a case study of a single person with schizophrenia is unlikely to be representative of all people who suffer from this disorder. NATURALISTIC OBSERVATIONstudies as their name implies observe organisms in their natural settings. A researcher who wants to examine aggressive behavior in male and female youngsters may watch children in the school playground, and record the number of aggressive acts boys and girls display. STRENGTH:The behavior of the subjects is likely to reflect their true behavior as it takes place in a natural setting, where they do not realize that they are being observed. WEAKNESS:The researcher has no control over the setting. For example, in our playground study, more than a child's gender may be affecting the child's aggressive behavior. In addition, subjects may not have an opportunity to display the behavior the researcher is trying to observe because of factors beyond the researcher's control. For example, some of the children who are usually the most aggressive may not be at school that day or in detention because of previous misconduct, thus they are not in the sample of children on the playground. Finally, the topics of study are limited to only people's overt behavior. A researcher cannot study topics like attitudes or thoughts using a naturalistic observation study. SURVEYstudies ask large numbers of people questions about their behaviors, attitudes, and opinions. Some surveys merely describe what people say they think and do. Other survey studies Page 5
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Seeing Through Statistics
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Chapter 13 / Exercise 27
Seeing Through Statistics
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attempt to find relationships between the characteristics of the respondents and their reported behaviors and opinions. For example, is there a relationship between gender and people's attitudes about some social issue? When surveys have this second purpose we refer to them as CORRELATIONAL STUDIES.

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