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Concepts, units and variables. Definition of concepts. A concept is a political phenomenon that varies from low to high It is unidimensional. Examples of concepts?. Democracy Political tolerance Culture Intelligence Interpersonal trust Self esteem Pluralism Germany

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definition of concepts
Definition of concepts
  • A concept is a political phenomenon that varies from low to high
  • It is unidimensional
examples of concepts
Examples of concepts?
  • Democracy
  • Political tolerance
  • Culture
  • Intelligence
  • Interpersonal trust
  • Self esteem
  • Pluralism
  • Germany
  • Federalism
units time people or places
Units: time, people or places
  • Units are the observations, which are placed on the unidimensional concept scale according to their low or high values
    • People are more or less politically tolerant
    • Countries are more or less democratic
    • Years have higher or lower rates of crime rates
    • People are more likely to litigate
    • Countries can have higher or lower rates of litigation
variables
Variables
  • Variables are the operationalizations of concepts
  • As researchers, we develop a systematic scheme for applying numbers to units
  • When we do this, we have a variable
examples of variables what are the possible units
Examples of variables.What are the possible units?
  • Murder rate
  • Litigation rate
  • Support for freedom of speech
  • Income
  • Party identification
  • Liberalism
what is not a variable
What is not a variable?
  • Speed of light
  • Parameters
  • Statistics

These are called constants.

  • Some political phenomena can be concepts and variables for some units but not for others.
  • September 11th is not a variable with people as the unit.
political tolerance as a concept
Political tolerance as a concept
  • Political tolerance is a concept that indicates how much support people have for the civil liberties and rights of their most hated political group.
  • It is not racial tolerance.
  • Notice that to “tolerate” something, you have to, by definition, not like it.
slide9

Operationalization of political tolerance

If your worst political enemy (i.e. Nazi’s, KKK) came to your town, would you support their right to march downtown?

Not support at all

Not really support

Somewhat support

Strongly support

4

1

2

3

types of variables
Types of Variables
  • Ordinal
  • Dichotomous
  • Nominal

All of these variables can be either

    • Independent
    • Dependent
dependent variable
Dependent variable
  • This is the political or social phenomenon we are interested in explaining.
  • It should be important.
  • And its explanation should matter to us.
  • For the research question, why does y vary, the dependent variable is the y.
  • There is only ONE dependent variable in any research project.
independent variables
Independent variables
  • These are the political or social phenomena we use to explain our dependent variable.
  • Logic, along with previous literature, can be used to defend why you believe that the independent variables causes the dependent variable.
  • There should be non-obvious, interesting and important implications from these relationships.
ordinal measurement
Ordinal Measurement
  • With ordinal variables, there is a rough quantitative sense to their measurement, but the differences between scores are not necessarily equal.
  • The values are in order but not fixed
examples of ordinal measures
Examples of Ordinal Measures
  • Rankings (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc)
  • Grades (A, B, C, D, F)
  • Education (High School, College, Advanced degree)
  • Evaluations
    • Hi, Medium, Low
    • Likert Scales
      • 5 pt (strongly agree, agree, neither agree nor disagree, disagree, strongly disagree)
      • 7 point liberalism scale (strongly liberal, liberal, weakly liberal, moderate, weakly conservative, conservative, strongly conservative)
    • How carefully will the court consider the hostage’s story?
      • Very carefully, rather carefully, not very carefully, not carefully at all
nominal variables
Nominal Variables
  • With nominal variables, there is no ordinal sense to their measurement
  • The values are not in order
examples of nominal measures
Examples of nominal measures
  • Race (White, Black, Asian, other)
  • Occupation (teacher, manager, worker)
  • Who is most guilty for causing the terrorist attack?
      • Hostage takers, Putin, Duma, local government
nominal frequency distribution

Cumulative

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Percent

Valid

1 Hostage takers

169

51.8

51.8

51.8

2 President Putin

20

6.1

6.1

58.0

3 Other federal

43

13.2

13.2

71.2

authorities

5 Moscow city authorities

16

4.9

4.9

76.1

6 FSB

46

14.1

14.1

90.2

7 Militia or GBDD

7

2.1

2.1

92.3

8 Doctors/emergency

3

.9

.9

93.3

services

97 Refused

1

.3

.3

93.6

99 Unsure

21

6.4

6.4

100.0

Total

326

100.0

100.0

Nominal frequency distribution

mainguilt Who or what do you think is mainly guilty for causing your problems?

syntax

freq vars = mainguilt.

slide20

The Research Question:Why does ‘y’ vary?

  • Why do some people vote for Democrats and others for Republicans?
  • Why do some ethnic conflicts get resolved and other end in holocausts?
  • Why do some democracies remain stable and others fall apart?
  • Why are some economies successful and others are not?
  • Why do some civil conflicts result in revolution and others do not?
  • What causes some people to support the civil liberties of political enemies?
  • What causes some people to trust one another and others not to trust?
  • What causes some people to participate in their government?
  • What causes some people to bring litigation against their government?
causal model
Causal model

X  Y

Independent variable causes dependent variable

For example:

Percentage of people living in urban areas causes female literacy

What could be the units of analysis in this example?

slide22

Political

Knowledge

Interest in Politics

.60

(.38)

-.22 (.10)

Belief that

Perception of

Perception of

Conflict is

Legality

Bargaining

Necessary

.69 (.14)

3.22 (.42)

Male

-.45 (.30)

Perception that the

.64 (.16)

.27 (.10)

Process is Fair

Perception of

Neutrality

1.00 (.49)

1.30 (.47)

Dogmatism

.58

.74 (.25)

(.21)

-.44 (.13)

Approval of

Diffuse

Current Justices

Support

Perception of

Future Certainty

-.58 (.29)

.42

.48

-.34

(.26)

(.14)

.43

Specific

(.11)

Biblical

(.11)

Support

Fundamentalism

Conservatism

Belief that Conflict

is Necessary

Predicting Perceptions of Fairness of a Supreme Court Decision

Support for

Bush v. Gore

Perception that the

Process Should be

Legalistic

data rows units columns variables
Datarows = unitscolumns = variables

Country population Urban% Religion

Austria 8000 58 Catholic

Belgium 10100 96 Catholic

Bosnia 4600 36 Muslim

Bulgaria 8900 68 Orthodox

Canada 29100 77 Catholic

Croatia 4900 51 Catholic

Czech Rep. 10400 72 Catholic

Denmark 5200 85 Protestant

Finland 5100 60 Protestant

France 58000 73 Catholic

Germany 81200 85 Protestant

Iceland 263 91 Protestant

female literacy and urban density

100

80

60

40

20

0

0

20

40

60

80

100

Female literacy and urban density

What are the units

in this analysis?

Female Literacy (%)

People living in cities (%)

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