Research Foundations: Theory, Concepts, Measures

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Short Answer Questions

1. What are some of the most common errors in causal reasoning?

Some of the most common errors in causal reasoning are (1) assuming correlation means causation, assuming temporal order means causation, a mistaken or unproven temporal order, (2) failing to identify a spurious relationship, (3) assuming a causal relationship based on a single study, or (4) assuming what is broadly true for a group is also true for individuals within the group.

2. Compare and contrast theory-building and theory-testing research.

Theory-building research, also referred to as inductive research or exploratory research, seeks to obtain real-world observations sufficient to develop a simple (parsimonious), generalizable (general), and testable (falsifiable) explanation of the variation of interest; this parsimonious, general, and falsifiable explanation is the theory. Theory-building research may be qualitative or quantitative in nature; qualitative research is particularly useful for theory development, given its emphasis on in-depth, context-specific information. Researchers combine the information from their research with knowledge from other related topics and logic to clearly define their theory, explicitly noting their assumptions. Once developed, a theory must be tested (and retested, and retested again). Theory-testing research, also referred to as deductive research, is research that deliberately sets out to test the hypotheses established by theory. Theory-testing research may also be qualitative or quantitative in nature. With theory-testing research, the researcher collects and analyzes real-world observations to assess if the theory is supported.