Chapter 2:

Communication Research Problems and Hypotheses

The research quest depends on asking solid questions and advancing useful hypotheses. This chapter not only discusses such matters but dedicates itself to developing your skills in crafting problems and hypotheses.  In addition, distinguishing between independent and dependent variables is a major focus of attention.

bullet A study quiz on Chapter 2
bullet STUDY1 (a codebook about a study in communication)
bullet A set of study sheets on problems and hypotheses


Chapter Outline and Materials



I.  Qualities of Research Problem Statements
    A.  Useful Research Problem Statements
          1. Research Questions Must Be Within the
              Researcher's Capabilities
          2. Research Questions Must Be Narrow But
              Not Trivial
    B.  Criteria for Sound Problem Statements
          (Stated Unambiguously, Usually in Question Form;
          Include at Least Two Variables; Testable: Not
          Advance Value Judgments;  Clear Grammatical
     C.  Constructing Problem Statements
           (A Format)
problems: questions for which we expect to find answers through research



variable: a symbol to which numbers may be assigned
constant: a symbol to which only one number may be assigned (the opposite of a variable)

II.  Using Hypotheses

      A.  Using Hypotheses to Test Explanations
            --hypotheses allow the use of formal logic
              to test statements
           --if a hypothesis
             derived from a theory
             is rejected, then the
             theory is rejected
           --yet, one can never
             claim to "prove" a
             theory is true; instead
             hypotheses permit
             one to see if a theory
             survives an additional
          --alternative theories
             may be eliminated by
             experiments that pit
             the predictions of one
             theory against those of

hypothesis: an expectation about events based on generalizations of the assumed relationships between variables.










crucial experiments: testing alternative theories by pitting predictions of one theory against those of another                           

       B.   A Note on Hypotheses
            in Qualitative Studies
           --hypotheses often take
             the form of working

      C.   Requirements of
             Hypotheses (Must
             State Relationships
             Between Variables;
             Must Be Consistent
             With What is Known
             in the Literature; Must
             Be Testable; Must Be
             Clear, Grammatical,
             and Unambiguous,
             Usually in the Form
             of a Declarative
       D.  Constructing Sound


working hypotheses
: suggestions that might be used to probe the area of inquiry


       E.  Types of Hypotheses
             in Quantitative Studies
             (Material and Null
nondirectional material hypotheses: hypotheses that state that there will be some kind of relationship between variables, but not the direction of the relationship
directional material hypotheses: hypotheses that state the form of differences predicted
null hypothesis: a hypothesis that states that there is no relationship between variables
III.  Identifying Variables in
       Hypotheses and Problems
       A.  Isolating Variables in
       B.  Independent Variables   

independent variables: variables that  predict outcomes (dependent variables) posited in hypotheses
moderator variables: variables that mediate the independent variable's prediction of the dependent variable

       C.  Dependent Variables dependent variables: variables whose values or activities are presumed to be conditioned upon the independent variable in the hypothesis