Sociology 202 Martin Lecture Outline 12: October 13, 2005

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What could be more obvious than a scale?. The GSS asks a question about attitudes toward extramarital sex:218.

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Sociology 202 Martin Lecture Outline 12: October 13, 2005

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1. Sociology 202 (Martin) Lecture Outline 12: October 13, 2005 Finishing Babbie chapter 6: Scales Ways to scale a response Types of scales Combining scales in a multiquestion index Typologies Supplemental reading: Brewster, Karin L. and Irene Padavic. 2000. “Change in Gender Ideology, 1977 – 1996: The Contributions of Intracohort Change and Population Turnover.” Journal of Marriage and the Family 62(2):477-487. pay close attention to page 479, Figure 1, Tables 3 and 4.

2. What could be more obvious than a scale? The GSS asks a question about attitudes toward extramarital sex: 218. “What is your opinion about a married person having sexual relations with someone other than the marriage partner--is it always wrong, almost always wrong, wrong only sometimes, or not wrong at all?” Can we just use an interval score and leave early? always wrong = 0 almost always wrong = 1 wrong only sometimes = 2 not wrong at all = 3

3. Possible ways to scale a single answer 1.) Just use ordinal categories in separate bar charts. you might rescale the variable to make the charts clearer 2.) Interval score: 0, 1, 2, 3 3.) Find some underlying interval measure that the ordinal measure captures. (example: spending per student in college rankings.) 4.) Percentile score or z-score (for the statistically inclined). Our choice of scale can affect the apparent size of the effect, the statistical significance of the effect, or even (once in a while) the direction of the effect.

4. Some ways to rescale a variable: Attitudes toward extramarital sex, version 2 always wrong = 1 almost always wrong, or wrong only sometimes = 2 not wrong at all = 3 Attitudes toward extramarital sex, version 3 always wrong = 1 almost always wrong, wrong only sometimes, or not wrong at all = 0 Attitudes toward extramarital sex, version 3 always wrong, almost always wrong = 1 wrong only sometimes, or not wrong at all = 0

5. Considerations in rescaling a variable: Which rescale produces the most simple yet informative graphs? Which rescale divides the sample most evenly? Which rescale divides the categories in the most logical fashion? Which rescale produces the most dramatic results? (Should we use this criterion?) Your choice is often a tradeoff of these factors, and you only find the best result by trying several.

6. Some common scales listed in Babbie Social Distance Scale (Bogardus Scale) a measurement technique that scales the willingness of people to participate in social relations at different degrees of closeness. Example: are you willing to permit sex offenders to … live in your country? live in your community? live next door to you? marry your child?

7. Common scales listed in Babbie, continued Guttman Scale a more general equivalent of a social distance scale, based on the fact that some items may prove to be more extreme indicators than others Example: support for a woman’s right to abortion, under three different conditions: woman’s health is seriously endangered pregnant as a result of rape woman is not married. note: People do not always respond to this scale in the “correct” order, so you sometimes have to chose between scoring it as a Guttman scale or as an index!

8. Some common scales listed in Babbie (ctd.) Equal-appearing interval scale (Thurstone Scale) don’t worry about this one for this class – it is rather difficult to create and is not often used in secondary data analysis. Semantic Differential Scale a scale that asks respondents to choose between two opposite positions using qualifiers to bridge a gap between two opposites. example: feelings about a musical selection: traditional - - - | - - - | - - - | - - - modern simple - - - | - - - | - - - | - - - complex

9. Likert scales and Likert items The GSS has many questions that ask respondents to “strongly agree”, “agree”, “disagree”, or “strongly disagree”. These are technically called “Likert items” A true Likert scale creates a single scale from all of the items, then rescales each question according to the overall scale score for each response to each item. this is a complex technique similar to item analysis.

10. Example of a set of Likert items The Brewster-Padavic Gender Conservatism Questions: “It is more important for a wife to help her husband’s career than to have one herself.” “It is much better for everyone if the man is the achiever and the woman takes care of the family.” “A preschool child is likely to suffer if his or her mother works.” “A working mother can establish just as warm and secure a relationship with her children as a mother who does not work.”

11. Typologies Typologies are ways of scoring nominal variables. one dimension: alligator prey items two dimensions: liberal/conservative media orientation with respect to social and economic issues. multidimensional: tracking stock trends with spotfire and other high-tech programs. When you treat nominal variables as nominal variables, you have the advantage of being conservative with respect to modeling assumptions.

13. Summary Questions 1.) Invent two Likert items that could measure attitudes toward nuclear power and that could be used in a questionnaire. 2.) Suppose you wanted to create an index for rating the quality of colleges and universities. Describe two measures you would use, and how you would scale each one. 3.) Would Babbie agree Brewster and Padavic’s measure of gender conservatism should be called a Gender Conservatism Scale? Explain. 4.) Compare and contrast a Social Distance scale to a Guttman Scale.

14. Assignment for next lecture Choose one of the questions from the previous slide. Write a paragraph about it. You can choose to write an answer You can choose to discuss the question, whether you think it is an appropriate question for a midterm, or what you think of the issues raised by the question.

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