Up A Brief Quiz Sources of Theories

                           Chapter 3:

                 Conceptualizations in
              Communication Research

 

A Brief Quiz on Materials on Chapter 3
Sources of Theories

 

Outline

 

Concepts

 

I.  Developing Theoretic
    Conceptualizations in
    Communication
    A.  Is Communication
         "Scientific" Enough to
         Have Theories?
        1.  Prerequisites for
             Science
competing views of science: a label for our attempts to find out how the universe works by means of careful observation rather than armchair speculation; the study of natural phenomena by the methods of the physical and biological sciences; organized and systematic knowledge; use of particular methods to develop knowledge (across subject fields).
science (preferred view): a way of testing statements by systematic application of the scientific method
         2.   Is Communication
               a Science?
              --the study of
                communication is
                a science if one
                chooses to use
                the scientific
                method to inquire
                into it.
             --the practice of
               communication
               remains an art to
               be performed
               and refined.
    B.  Anatomy of Theories
         1.    Definition of a
                Theory
         2.   Components of
               Theory
theory: a body of interrelated principles that explain or predict
               a.   an abstract
                     calculus
abstract calculus: the logical structure of relationships
               b.   theoretic
                     constructs
constructs: generalizations about observables according to some common property
--hypothetical constructs or
   concepts: constructs for which
   we cannot make observations
   directly.
               c.   rules of
                     correspond-
                     ence
rules of correspondence: assessment of how well the theory's constructs and abstract calculus can be applied to actual experience.
         3.   Requirements of
               Theory
               a.   the requirement
                     of falsification
 

requirement of falsification: any actual theory must deal with statements that can be falsified by data and information if they are untrue

              b.   the requirement
                    of tentativeness
tentativeness: recognition that a theory's answers are provisional
functions of theory:
  description: the lowest level of
  theorizing, in which behavior is
  characterized into different
  forms
  explanation: taking an event and
  treating it as an instance of a
  larger system of things
  prediction: descriptions of what
  can be expected in the future
  control: the power to direct things
    C.   Functions of Theory --non-research methods:
   method of tenacity: claiming to
   know something because one
   always has known it
   method of authority: accepting
   a claim because authority
   figures have accepted it
   a priori: claiming knowledge
   before having any experience
   with it
   method of trial and error:
   claiming
   knowledge by making repeated
   attempts to eliminate
   unacceptable answers
--research methods of knowing:
   developing claims from reviews
   of literature
   meta-analysis: a method
   combining the quantitative
   results from many studies to
   reveal the overall sizes of
   effects that exist among
   variables
the scientific method: at minimum, collecting data and establishing a functional relationship among these data
--four steps:
  1.  observation of facts
  2.  working hypothesis or
       theoretical solution
      development
  3.  test of expectations against
       information and data
  4.  establishing a conclusion or
       functional relationship
    D.  Applications of Theory
          1.  Data First vs.
               Theory First
                Inquiry
data first inquiry: sometimes called the "inductive approach" to research, this method involves researchers gathering information and then developing theoretic explanations
  --advantages: one does not enter
     research with preconceptions;
     one may be free to follow
     unexpected directions; one
     stays close to data and avoids
     tendencies toward reification
     (the fallacy of thinking that
     abstract concepts are concrete
     things)
  --disadvantages: explanations
     limited to phenomena that can
     be observed with current
     measurement instruments;
     does not test alternative
     theoretical explanations, but
     develops suggestions for
     theory; promoted inefficient
     research since key variables
     are not identified early
theory first inquiry: sometimes called the "deductive approach" to research, this method involves researchers developing theoretic thinking and then gathering data to apply and test it
--advantages: theories may
   develop from any source and
   are not limited to phenomena
   that can be observed with
   current measuring instruments;
   one may be free to take
   advantage of serendipity since
   unexpected findings are readily
   identified;
   promotes efficient research
   since key variables of interest
   are identified early
--disadvantages: researchers
   may force theoretic
   explanations on information
   even if it is inappropriate to do
   so; theories may become
   articles of faith to their
   followers, even after the
   theories have outlived their
   usefulness; theories are
   difficult to construct and
   require exhaustive thinking
   beyond the energies of most
   scholars

2.  Normative,
     Ethical, and
     Rhetorical
     Theories

normative and prescriptive theories: theories whose principles involve defining the qualities of meaningfulness or desirability for phenomena
--normative science: a discipline
   that systematically studies
   humanity's attempts to
   determine what is correct,
   valuable, good, or beautiful
ethical and rhetorical theories: principles that describe good and effective communication respectively
related terms:
  model: a statement of a theory
  that not only states the
  relationships, but displays them
  law: a verbal statement,
  supported by such ample
  evidence as not to be open to
  doubt unless much further
  evidence is obtained, of the
  way events of a certain class
  consistently and uniformly
  occur
  rule: a theory that explains a
  pattern of effects by referring
  to human intentions, reasons,
  or goals
II. Developing Definitions
    for Concepts
definitions: statements asserting that one term may be substituted for another
    A.  Using Conceptual
          Definitions
conceptual (or constitutive) definition: relies on other constructs and concepts to describe a term

1.  Levels of
     Definition:
     Daily, Poetic,
     and Scholarly

daily definitions: statements that are generally adopted by members of a society
poetic definitions: statements that involve figurative interpretations of objects
scholarly definitions: highly specific statements that have technical meanings for a group of scholars

2. The Problem of
    Clarity
    a.  inappropri-
         ateness of
         interchanging
         definitions


     b.  the problem
          of circularity


      c.  assuming
           mutual
           under-
           standing

circular definitions flawed because they commit the fallacy of begging the question
begging the question: flawed reasoning in which the conclusion of an argument is used as a premise for the argument

3.  Sources of
     Conceptual
     Definitions
4.  Criticism of
     Conceptual
     Definitions
     tests:
     1.  must
          include all
          situations or
          individuals
          properly
          included
          in the term
          defined
     2.  must
          exclude all
          situations or
          individuals
          that are not
          properly
          included in
          the term
          defined
     3.  must not
          use the
          term
          defined
     4.  must be
          more
          precise
          than the
          term
          defined
     5.  must
          exclude
          loaded
          language

     B.  Using Operational
           Definitions
          1.  An Attempt at
               Precision of
               Definition
          2.  Forms of
               Operational
               Definitions

operational definition
: describes what is observed by specifying what researchers must do to make observations
               a.  manipulated
                    independent
                    variables
manipulated independent variables: sometimes called stimulus variables because researchers introduce and control them in experiments
               b.  measured/
                    assigned
                    variables


               c.   direct
                     classification

           3.  Standards for
                Operational
                Definitions
                standards:             

measured/assigned variables: variables not introduced or controlled by the researcher, but carefully observed and/or measured

direct classification: operationally defining concepts by simple identification or classification of observable characteristicsdirect classification: operationally defining concepts by simple identification or classification of observable characteristics

 

                1.   empirically
                      based and
                      definite
                2.   logically
                      consistent
empirical: observable

        3.  inter-
             subjective



        4.  technically
             possible
        5.  repeat-
             able
        6.  suggest-
             ive of
            constructs

intersubjectivity: the degree to which different researchers with different beliefs draw essentially the same interpretations of the meaning of observations