Exam 2 Answers, Methods of Social Research, SOC 300



Matching (2 points each)


Letter of Matching Definition

1. Informed Consent


2. Confidentiality


3. Anonymity


4. Control Group


5. Hawthorne Effect


6. Debrief


7. TDM




9. Mutually Exclusive


10. SOC 300




a.     The group in an experiment that does not get the treatment or intervention.

b.     Survey research in which an interviewer sits before a computer screen and keyboard, reads the survey questions from the compute screen and enters the respondent’s answers directly into the computer.

c.     A statement, usually written, in which people in a study learn aspects about the project and formally agree to participate.

d.     An overall approach to conducting surveys in which a researcher makes participation as easy as possible and uses multiple strategies to increase the response rate.

e.     When a researcher gives a true explanation of an experiment to study participants after they finish participating in the study.

f.      The ethical protection for those who are studied of not releasing their information in a way that permits linking specific individuals to specific responses. Researchers do this by only presenting data in aggregate form (percentages, means).

g.     When participants in an experiment react to the fact that they are being studied, rather than to the existence or absence of the treatment or intervention. 

h.     Responses to a survey question which do not overlap.

i.      The ethical protection in a study where participants’ name and identities are not collected or recorded in the research.

j.    My reason for getting up in the morning.                                                             



Fill-in-the-Blank (3 points each): Identify the dependent variable, independent variable, pre-test, post-test and experimental group in the study description below. 


We want to study prejudice against African-Americans and ways to reduce it.  We hypothesize that acquiring an understanding of the contributions of African-Americans to American history will reduce prejudice.  We gather a group of Caucasian students and measure their level of prejudice against African-Americans (via five questions).  Then we show them a documentary film on the important contributions of African Americans to American science, literature, politics and social development. We then again measure the level of prejudice against African-Americans among the study participants.  We look to see if their prejudice has reduced as a result of watching the film.


11. pre-test: Prejudice Time 1

14. experimental group: All participants that saw the film. 

12. independent variable: Film

15. Control group: There is no control group with this study.

13. post-test: Prejudice Time 2

Multiple Choice: Choose the Best Response (3 points each)


16.    What is the general ethical principle regarding deception in social research?  D

       a.  It is fully acceptable and does not involve ethical issues.

       b.  It is forbidden under all circumstances of ethical research.

c.     Deception can only be ethically used when subjects are "captive" populations (e.g., prisoners, students, mental hospital patients, military personnel).

d.     It can be ethically used if essential to the research, but only to the minimal degree necessary and it must be followed by debriefing.


17.    The American Sociological Association Code of Ethics says it is proper ethical behavior for a researcher to:  C

       a.  Use sloppy research methods and low standards because one does not have enough money to do a study correctly.

       b.  Accept money from an outside source to do a study, but never tell in publications who provided the funds.

       c.   Make research data omitting the names of specific subjects available to any other researcher for free, except for the cost of copying and shipping it.

       d.  Use the ideas or writings of someone who made the research study possible, but not acknowledge that their efforts were essential to completing the study.


18.    Where are Institutional Review Boards and what is the purpose of one?  A

       a.  They are at most colleges, hospitals and research centers. They make sure that research involving humans is carried out ethically.

       b.  They are part of professional associations. They lobby for more research money from government agencies.

       c.   They are located in state police offices. They ensure that researchers do not misuse money given to them for research.

d.     They are located inside government agencies that give grants for research. They ensure that the methodology used is scientific.


19.  Which of the following research scenarios is NOT ethical?  D

       a.  A school district wants a study of students, but demands that a researcher reach findings showing an improvement in student scores during the past five years.

       b.  A government agency suppresses findings which indicate that it has not enforced a law it is supposed to and has been an overall failure.

       c.   A political party calls people for telephone interviews on opinions but is really identifying potential financial contributors. It hides the true sponsor of a study by using a made up the name of a research company.

d.     All of the above.


20.  A survey researcher from a marketing company telephones local residents and informs them she is calling from a “university research center” who is conducting a study on attitudes about local issues.  She begins asking personal questions about how respondents spend their money.  Afterwards the market research company uses the data to decide how to advertise their most expensive products.  What ethical principles have been violated in this research?  B

a.     Cause no physical harm to study participants.

b.     Failure to get informed consent.

c.     Cause no psychological distress to study participants.

d.     No ethical principles violated.


21.    If researchers criticize a study for its external validity problems they are point to problems with: B

       a.  Randomization to the experimental or control group

       b.  Generalizability

       c.   Ethics

       d.  Selection of subjects into experimental and control groups

22.    Which of the following are strengths of survey research?  D

       a.  Data are often easily quantifiable for later statistical analysis.

       b.  A large number of people can be asked about their attitudes, behaviors, etc., so information can be generalized if a study has good sampling.

       c.   The data are always highly accurate, because people never lie or distort answers in a survey.

       d.  a and b


23.    What occurs during a pilot study?  C

       a.  A test of just the questionnaire.

b.     When you ask an airline pilot to participate in your study.

c.     A complete run of all the steps in the research design.

       d.  None of the above.


24.    In survey research, what kind of error causes problems with the quality of the data obtained? A

       a.  Systematic error

       b.  Combination error

       c.   Random error

d.     No errors with surveys


25.    If you were going to ask a question about a highly sensitive topic (e.g., masturbation, homosexuality, extramarital affairs) where should you place it in a survey?  C

       a.  As the very first question.

       b.  Mixed somewhere among unrelated questions in the middle.

       c.  Among the last questions, unless it fits into a set of similar questions, then with similar questions.

       d.  Such questions are never asked in survey research.


26.    When conducting a survey research interview an interviewer should:  D

a.     Communicate his/her own feelings and opinions, to build rapport and so that the respondent will feel free to divulge personal information also.

b.     Skip over questions if you already know the answer for the respondent.

       c.   Rephrase each question into terms with which the respondent will understand.

       d.  None of the above.


27.    The type of survey that has the highest response rate. C

       a.  Telephone Interviews

b.  Mail Questionnaires

c.  Face-to-face Interviews


28.    The one to choose if one wants the quickest results. A

       a.  Telephone Interviews

b.  Mail Questionnaires

c.  Face-to-face Interviews


29.    Permits the longest interview and the most complex questions. C

a.  Telephone Interviews

b.  Mail Questionnaires

c.  Face-to-face Interviews


30.  This test fairly reflects the course readings, lectures and discussion on ethics, experiments and surveys. (No wrong answer)  A or B  (100% of students responded A, True)

a.     True

b.     False

Essay (20 points): Write an essay answer on ONE of the following questions, approximately 1 page in length.


·       What are three ethical issues involved with studying your research question, either with an experiment or with a survey?  Whose lives might be influenced by your research? How so?


No standard answer to this question.  Needed to identify ethical issues specific to your research question and your research method.




·       Why is informed consent important?  What process do researchers generally follow to obtain informed consent?



Researchers are not supposed to deceive or hurt their study participants, or treat them with disrespect.  Obtaining informed consent enables participants to evaluate the research being done and decide for themselves whether to participate.  Obtaining consent treats the participants with respect. 


The process we follow to obtain informed consent varies with different research methods.  With experiments we create a form that describes the purpose of the research, who is doing it, how it will be done, how the data will be used, and how to contact the researcher.  The researcher sits down with each participant and reviews the form, after which each study participant signs the form, along with the researcher. Both parties keep a copy of the form.  The form serves as a type of contract between the researcher and participant, indicating that ethical standards were followed and protects both the researcher and the participant against later claims to the contrary.


With surveys, we describe the project when first contacting the participant (be it by phone, mail, or in-person).  In this conversation or letter, we briefly describe the purpose of the research, who is doing it, how it will be done, how the data will be used, and how to contact the researcher.  The participant decides whether to participate and conveys that consent by either completing the telephone survey, returning the mail survey, or allowing the researcher to survey them in-person.  The completed survey usually serves as an implied consent form.  Survey participants can skip any question they do not wish to answer, and can end the survey at any time.


-5 for minor errors; incomplete answers; or not enough explanation of points



·       Why is a high response rate in a survey critical?  What techniques to social scientists use to increase response rates?


High response rates are critical in surveys in order to obtain internal and external validity.  Issues here include the need to generalize and to conduct statistical analyses, and the appropriate use of a survey to answer the research question (i.e., methodological validity).


Generalization: Surveys are usually done on a sample of a large population. The sample is designed to represent the population.  If a high percentage of people contacted choose not to respond to the survey, the sample may not represent the population and accurate generalizations of the study results to the population cannot be made from the sample.  Generalizations made under these conditions are likely to be biased or inaccurate.  Analysis: Surveys are usually done on large samples. If we do not get a high response rate there may not be enough cases to conduct adequate analyses, and the study conclusions could be statistically inaccurate or biased.  Methodological validity:  High rejection rates indicate that a) there is a problem with using a survey with this  topic (people aren’t interested in it, or it is too sensitive), b) the survey questions are not written well or are too hard to answer), or c) the method being used to conduct the survey is not appropriate to the topic (for example, using a face-to-face survey in a neighborhood with a high crime rates – people will be reluctant to talk to strangers at their door, let strangers in their homes to conduct the survey).


To obtain high response rates in surveys, we follow the total design method (TDM). Basically this involves strategies that make it easy for the study participants to respond to the survey, such as the following.  1) The researcher should develop valid survey questions and develop a questionnaire with a smooth question ordering.  The researcher should pre-test the survey questions and questionnaire to determine if there are problems with either the questions or questionnaire design/layout.   2) The researcher should develop a mail survey cover letter or a verbal introduction to a telephone or face-to-face survey that accurately and clearly describes the research being done.  This letter or introduction should convey how important the study topic is and how important each selected participant’s response is.  3) With mail surveys, the researcher should include a self-addressed posted envelope for return of the completed survey.  4) The researcher should train survey interviewers (in telephone and face-to-face surveys) to gather the survey data scientifically.  5) The researcher should use multiple attempts to reach participants selected for the study. With a mail survey this involves sending post-card reminders after a week or two of the initial mailing, and an entire new survey packet after 3 weeks.  With a telephone surveys this involves calling selected participants at different days and times. 6) The researcher should consider using alternative survey methods to reach non-respondents – for example, use a telephone call-back to people who haven’t returned a mail survey. 7) The researcher should pilot the survey research design (which includes all of the above) on a small random sample of the population. 8) The researcher should consider using financial incentives for completing the survey such as entering respondents into drawings for prizes, or including a small payment for completing the survey.


 -5 for minor errors; incomplete answers; or not enough explanation of points.



·       What kinds of questions are appropriate for experiments? For surveys?


Experiments can be used for research questions or topics that allow manipulation of the independent variable and observation of the dependent variable.   There are fewer of these kinds of research questions or topics in sociology.  Example research questions that could be answered using an experiment are:



Surveys can be and are used for many types of research questions or topics, but they are best suited for research projects that meet the following conditions:

·       Projects that aim to describe or estimate the incidence or prevalence of an attitude, belief, or behavior in a large population. 

·       Projects for which a researcher can draw a sample from a population, so as to obtain a representative sample and make sound generalizations.

·       Topics about which a researcher can develop clear, easy to answer closed-ended questions.


Surveys should not be used to answer “why” or “how” research questions. Example research questions that could be answered using a survey are:



-5 for minor errors; incomplete answers; or not enough explanation of points