What factors Predict Individuals’ Attitudes toward Same Sex Relationships


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Overview of the Process



Introduction/Research Question

Due: Jan 20

STEP TWO: Literature Review

Due: Feb 15


Hypotheses Data, and Methods

Due: March 8


Data Analysis and Results

Due: April 14


Discussion and  Conclusion/


Final Draft Due

At Final Assessment



In this course one of the primary activities will be the production of an empirical research paper based on a research question, several hypotheses, a statistical analysis of the hypotheses, and a summary of the findings. You will construct the paper in stages, and you will receive feedback throughout the process.  The following list outlines, step-by-step, the process you will follow.  I will provide instructions throughout the semester with further detail on each step of the process.


  1. STEP ONE: Titled “Introduction”.


For those students who were enrolled in Professor Barringer’s Logic of Inquiry course in Spring 2019, you may have already formulated your research question and have identified the dataset that you will be using.  You are in good shape.


For those who have not, you will need to formulate a broad research question that interests you and that is amenable to analysis with the existing data sets I will make available this semester.


The research question should revolve around a “central concept” of interest that can be analyzed with the secondary datasets (these will be discussed in class). Topics selected in earlier courses can be modified as necessary given the data available for the exploration of this topic.


Note: You are conducting secondary data analysis in this class – you are not collecting your own data but using datasets containing survey data collected by another organization.


Let me provide an example of an old topic and how this can be shaped into a research question that can be analyzed with survey data. Suppose you are interested in treatment of or discrimination against believers and advocates of radical political ideology.  Since you are using survey data, the best way to convert this topic into a researchable project for this class is to consider what kinds of ATTITUDINAL/OPINION questions are asked in the survey about political radical ideas.


What you will find in most surveys are questions asking people (known as the “respondents”) their ATTITUDES/OPINIONS about various social, economic, political issues and in this case one that pertains to alternative or marginalized or discriminated-against groups.  This then becomes the focus of your project that revolves around what I call a CENTRAL CONCEPT – let’s call it “political tolerance”.  This is what you want to explain — the variation in political tolerance toward those believing in some alternative or radical political ideology.


Note that you are much less likely to find questions asking about whether one was discriminated against.  Most of the questions in the surveys ask questions that tap attitudes/opinions. Thus, you may need to frame your topic of interest into attitudes/opinions about that topic, issue, social problem, etc. of interest.


Suppose you find the following question in the survey: “Would you allow a communist or socialist to speak in your community?”   This operationalizes one’s level of acceptance or tolerance toward radical political ideas.


The second component is to consider what individual level factors might explain why a person would be, in the case of this example, more or less likely to be tolerant toward alternative political ideas. You might speculate, in the introduction, that some socio-demographic variables such as age, sex, race, religiosity, education, etc. might predict one’s attitude and opinion on this question. In the literature review, which comes later, you can determine whether previous research has found these factors to be significant.


Most importantly. you want to make sure that you have selected a research question that can be analyzed with the available data. In order to determine if you have concepts, and variables, that can be analyzed with the datasets that we will be using, you will need to do the following:


  1. Go to the Modules section of the Canvas site and then scroll down to Data Codebooks and Datasets module.
  2. In addition to the widely used GSS there are surveys conducted by PEW Research and the  Public Religion Research Institute. Examine the survey descriptions and the codebooks and see if you can find a question (or questions) related to your area of interest.
  3. If for some reason you have a topic of interest that cannot be studied with these datasets let me know asap and we will see what we can find.



The draft you submit on should include the following pieces of information:


  • The research question
  • The sociological significance of the research question
  • What is the central concept of interest (in the above example it was something like “political tolerance”)
  • What are some factors that might predict the concept (if it is a dependent variable), or that are consequences of the concept (if it is an independent variable), or that are correlated with the concept (if you are exploring possible relationships). Consider socio-demographic predictors if the central concept is an opinions/attitudes.
  • A causal diagram drawn on the bottom along the lines presented by Jaffee in class.
  • NOTE: This section of the paper does not require you to discuss the dataset or specific survey questions, but you need to know that they exist in order to initiate the research question and project.





  1. STEP TWO: Titled “Literature Review”. In order to learn what other sociologists have done on this topic, and the kinds of factors they have considered in explaining it, you must carry out a literature review.  This is usually about 2-3 pages.


This requires using the sociological reference material and resources online and in the library. The literature that you consult and review must be academic and scholarly – that is, from social science journal articles. You will need to find at least 5 journal articles on this topic. See the list of common and central social science journals in the Literature Review folder in the Blackboard site.


Do not submit an annotated bibliography or paraphrased/plagiarized sections from abstracts and journal articles.


The literature review should highlight for each article the central conceptual and operational hypotheses, the dependent and independent variables, and the factors that were found to have the greatest impact or exhibit the strongest effects on whatever is being explained or predicted. You are reviewing these articles to determine what factors you might examine and include in your analysis.


You do not need to critique the studies; that is unnecessary.


Examples of a literature review exist in every academic research article you will be consulting. You can use these articles as a model for how you will be organizing not just the literature review but your entire research paper.


You should use the ASA citation style for citations in the body of your paper (“in-text” citations) and the reference page. Information on this citation style can be found at:



For “in-text citations” do not include author first names in the text. Do not include article titles in the text. Do not include the author’s university affiliation in the text. Rather, make reference to last names only and the date (e.g. Smith and Jones 2003) and the page if you are quoting a passage (e.g. Smith and Jones 2003; 45).


Again, you should consult and use the resources in the Literature Review folder in the Blackboard site for further guidance and assistance.


The following are the most common comments I include when evaluating and grading the literature reviews. Use this as a guide on what to do and what not to do.


#1: Integrate/synthesize various studies into a narrative rather than listing as an annotated bibliography or summarizing one article after another.


#2: Create list of all references with citations using proper ASA or established style for the social sciences.


#3: Identify and highlight factors found from other studies that can directly inform your data analysis project.


#4: Need to link literature reviewed more closely with your specific conceptual and empirical model.


#5: Avoid excessive quotation of text from other studies. Summarize and synthesize in your own words.


#6: Work on writing clear, precise, well-written sentences. Read, proof, and revise your prose.


#7: How does the lit review serve as a lead-in to your presentation of hypotheses to be tested with the secondary data you will be using?



  1. STEP THREE: Titled “Hypotheses, Data, and Methods”. Based on your review of the literature, outline the formal conceptual and operational hypotheses that you will be “testing” with available data and the methods of analysis you will be using to empirically assess the hypotheses. This involves bivariate relationships between the central concept/variable and other concepts/variables and the particular statistical analyses that you will be carrying out in SPSS with the available data sets.


Again, consult your research articles in the literature review for how this section of the paper is organized and what it includes.



The draft you submit should include the following pieces of information, presented as text (not a list or a series of subheadings) in sentence and paragraph form roughly in the following order:


  1. Conceptual hypotheses based on the literature review.
  2. How the concepts will be operationalized.
  3. The wording of each survey question on which your variables are based, and the variables names. See the dataset codebook for this information.
  4. The level of measurement of each variable.
  1. The source of the secondary data (dataset, year).
  2. Operational hypotheses based on the variables that you are using to operationalize your concepts as indicated in 3 above.
  3. The level of measurement of the variables.
  4. The statistical technique you intend to use to examine the relationships between variables in your hypotheses and how you will determine statistical significance.



The following are the most common comments I include when evaluating and grading the Hypotheses, Data, and Methods section. Use this as a guide on what to do and what not to do.


#1: Include the exact questions asked in the survey and the variable names as they appear in the dataset codebook of all variables you will be analyzing when explaining operationalization of concepts. Also include the response options/categories for nominal/ordinal variables. Do this for each variable separately that you will be using for your data analysis.


#2: State the operational hypotheses explicitly using the specific variable measures in your dataset.


#3: Make explicit reference to the specific dataset you are using and the year the data were collected and variables of interest are found.


#4: Include some explanation for WHY you believe there is a relationship between two variables. What sociological process links one thing to another?


#5: Make explicit reference to the primary statistical method you will be using (e.g. crosstabs).


#6: How will you determine statistical significance?


#7: Work on writing clearly. You should proof, revise, modify, and reword for clarity.


#8: Include reference to conceptual hypotheses before stating operational hypotheses.


#9: Indicate the level of measurement of each variable separately.


#10: Do not review literature in this section. This section should follow logically from the literature review that preceded it.


#11: Compose this section with text, sentences, and paragraphs not with lists or subsections/subheadings that correspond to the items I have indicated in the assignment.




  1. STEP FOUR: Titled “Data Analysis and Results” Conduct and write up the results of the data analysis. This will include descriptive statistics of each variable in your analysis plus the statistical procedure used to test your hypotheses.

-1st: Report results from the frequency distributions for nominal and ordinal variables. Note the distribution of responses. Report percentages not raw number totals.What is the mode? What does this analysis tell you about your research topic? Report means/medians for interval level variables. Is there anything about the frequency distributions or measures of central tendency worth reporting that bears on the research topic?


– 2nd:Report the results for the bivariate statistical analysis (in most cases crosstabs) designed to test your research hypotheses. When you run the crosstabs, in order to keep the size of the table compact, just ask for COLUMN PERCENTAGES. Make sure you have the independent variable in the COLUMN position. Is the pattern consistent with the hypothesis? Are there any surprises? What specific percentage differences are most relevant for the testing of your hypotheses? Which are most substantively significant?

-3rd: Report the statistical significance (Chi-Square result if using crosstabs) after each crosstabulation? If statistically significant, at what level?


– This section should include tables that display the data and statistical analysis that you are reporting


(1) You can highlight the table (you will see red arrow) and simply copy and paste the table into Word. OR

(2) You can use the “Snipping Tool”. When you have the table in SPSS Output open the snipping tool which can be found on your computer under

ALL Programs — Accessories —-Snipping Tool.

Click on ‘New’ and the output document should go pale and then move mouse to create rectangle around table, then click.

This will cut and place table on a separate page.

Copy the table and then paste into Word document.

This table can be resized like an image to fit on the page or to make room for an additional table but as an image it cannot be edited.


The following are the most common comments I include when evaluating and grading the Data Analysis and Results section. Use this as a guide on what to do and what not to do.


#1 : Include relevant percentages in crosstab tables and in the text that describes the substantive results of the crosstab analysis. (See Powerpoint presentation on crosstabulation for method of analysis and interpretation of results and placement of dependent and independent variables.)


#2: Format tables to fit on single page in easy to read size. Remove extraneous text and information from tables produced by SPSS.


#3: Include the univariate descriptive statistics in SPSS tables that are appropriate for the level of measurement of your variables. Report and comment on anything worth noting or of interest.


#4: In describing the results in the  text of the paper emphasize the percentage differences across categories of the independent variable.


#5: Wavy lines underneath text indicate prose that should be revised for clarity and readability.


#6: Need a second hypothesis analyzed, tested, and assessed.


#7: Consider recoding variables with large number of categories/values to produce a more compact condensed crosstab table.


#8: Note both the substantive and statistical significance of the findings.


  1. STEP FIVE:  Titled “Discussion and Conclusion”. Present the results of your analysis and whether or not it confirms of refute the hypotheses. Draw conclusions linked to original theoretical and conceptual model. You might address and include the following:
  • Discuss the results in relation to the original expectations based on the introduction, literature review and the hypotheses.
  • Do the results conform to earlier research and the research hypotheses? If not, what might explain your findings?
  • How might you have been better able to evaluate the hypotheses if you were able to collect the data, or construct the survey, or examine this question at a different level of analysis?
  • What questions remain unanswered?
  • What implications do your findings have for the social issue? If you are addressing a social problem, what implications might your findings have for addressing the social problem? In other words, why does it matter?
  • What kind of research might be conducted by others to explore the research question, and the hypotheses, in the future?
  1. STEP SIX: References Page. Use ASA style. (See step two above)


The final draft of the papers is due when you complete the Final Assessment.


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