Starting with a worldview basic beliefs what do we

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researchers can have increased confidence in the findings. Starting With a Worldview: Basic Beliefs What do we really believe about human behavior? Are people basically all alike or fundamentally different; predictable or unpredictable; predisposed to cooperation or to conflict; living in a shared, tangible world or their own internal, subjective worlds? The argument for reality as an underlying, objective, concrete entity versus reality as no more than a product of our senses is almost as old as human thought. Generalizations or predictions
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about human behavior often can be made with some success, but it is equally true that many predictions fail—as political pollsters can find to their dismay. We tend to have more success with larger numbers of people than we do with individuals. Faculty can be quite confident predicting that most students will attend class on a given day. Predicting that a specific student will attend a specific class on a specific day is a different matter altogether. As evidence supports any and all such views, ultimately we are obliged to decide which basic beliefs will inform our research, and to live with them, based on our own best judgment. From a research point of view, basic assumptions about human behavior coalesce into broad worldviews . Worldview I is that human behavior is predictable, objectively measurable, and generalizable. Worldview I researchers aim to make generalizations about human communication that will hold true across space and time. This emphasis on measurement and generalization is called a nomothetic approach. Advertising and audience research subscribe to Worldview I. Researchers seek to find rules that will predict the success of interpersonal relationships, direct-marketing or broadcast content, or cat videos on social media, or the ability of group members to work together or how to increase sales or hold a broadcast audience. Television infomercials, for example, are presumably based on research indicating that using a particular type of spokesperson plus showing the product plus repeated exposure of the 1-800 phone number will maximize the number of consumer call-ins. In principle, such a generalization would apply to most products and most television audiences. Worldview II, by contrast, sees human behavior as individualistic, unpredictable, and subjective. This view assumes that knowledge is socially constructed out of interaction between people and is subjective. Research based on these assumptions attempts to describe and assess the subjectivity and individuality of human communication, rather than aiming to discover universal laws. This emphasis on individual understanding is called an idiographic approach. Worldview I privileges the researcher’s perspectives; Worldview II privileges participants’ perspectives. For example, the student discussions recorded in Chapter 1 are what we might call “naturally generated” or “participant generated.” An external observer or researcher has had no influence on this content. However, as soon as a researcher decides to impose a method such as a survey on the group members, the research data are researcher generated and may have little or no resemblance to the participant-generated data.
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