Glossary

attrition: reduction in the number of research participants as some drop out over time

case study: exploring a single case or situation in great detail. Information may be gathered with the use of observation, interviews, testing, or other methods to uncover as much as possible about a person or situation

cohort: a group of people who are born at roughly the same period in a particular society. Cohorts share histories and contexts for living

content analysis: involves looking at media such as old texts, pictures, commercials, lyrics or other materials to explore patterns or themes in culture

control group: a comparison group that is equivalent to the experimental group, but is not given the independent variable

correlation: the relationship between two or more variables; when two variables are correlated, one variable changes as the other does

correlation coefficient: number from -1 to +1, indicating the strength and direction of the relationship between variables, and usually represented by r

correlational research: research that formally tests whether a relationship exists between two or more variables, however, correlation does not imply causation

cross-sectional research: used to examine behavior in participants of different ages who are tested at the same point in time; may confound age and cohort differences

dependent variable: the outcome or variable that is supposedly affected by the independent variable

descriptive studies: research focused on describing an occurrence

double-blind: a research design in which neither the participants nor the researchers know whether an individual is assigned to the experimental group or the control group

experimental group: the group of participants in an experiment who receive the independent variable

experimental research: research that involves randomly assigning people to different conditions and using hypothesis testing to make inferences about how these conditions affect behavior; the only method that measures cause and effect between variables

experiments: designed to test hypotheses in a controlled setting in efforts to explain how certain factors or events produce outcomes; the only research method that measures cause and effect relationships between variables

explanatory studies: research that tries to answer the question “why”

Hawthorne effect: individuals tend to change their behavior when they know they are being watched

hypotheses: specific statements or predictions about the relationship between variables

independent variable: something that is manipulated or introduced by the researcher to the experimental group; treatment or intervention

longitudinal research: studying a group of people who may be of the same age and background (cohort), and measuring them repeatedly over a long period of time; may confound age and time of measurement effects

negative correlation: two variables change in different directions, with one becoming larger as the other becomes smaller; a negative correlation is not the same thing as no correlation

observational studies: also called naturalistic observation, involves watching and recording the actions of participants

operationalized: concepts transformed into variables that can be measured in research

positive correlation: two variables change in the same direction, both becoming either larger or smaller

qualitative research: theoretical ideas are “grounded” in the experiences of the participants, who answer open-ended questions

quantitative research: involves numerical data that are quantified using statistics to understand and report what has been studied

reliability: when something yields consistent results

research design: the strategy or blueprint for deciding how to collect and analyze information; dictates which methods are used and how

scatterplot: a plot or mathematical diagram consisting of data points that represent two variables

secondary content analysis: archival research, involves analyzing information that has already been collected or examining documents or media to uncover attitudes, practices or preferences

selective attrition: certain groups of individuals may tend to drop out more frequently resulting in the remaining participants longer being representative of the whole population

sequential research design: combines aspects of cross-sectional and longitudinal designs, but also adding new cohorts at different times of measurement; allows for analyses to consider effects of age, cohort, time of measurement, and socio-historical change

survey: asking a standard set of questions to a group of subjects

validity: when something yields accurate results

variables: factors that change in value

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