Methods of Inquiry- Week 5 & 6

Basic Personal Values, Core Political Values, and Voting: A Longitudinal Analysis Author(s): Shalom H. Schwartz, Gian Vittorio Caprara and Michele Vecchione Source: Political Psychology, Vol. 31, No. 3 (June 2010), pp. 421-452


  • how political values relate to one another
  • left or right ideology does not explain attitudes
  • research largely fails to test political values of electorate
  • value construct: prior research focuses on limited sets of values


  • basic personal values: “abstract beliefs about desirable goals that transcend specific situations” (p.428)
    • power, achievement, hedonism, stimulation, self-direction, universalism, benevolence, tradition, conformity, and security
  • core political values: beliefs and assumptions about government, citizenship, and society
    • law & order, traditional morality, equality, free enterprise, civil liberties, and blind patriotism
  • Measurements: developed scale to measure core political values


  • Basic personal values are aligned in a circular structure with ten dimension, one for each basic personal values


  1. “core political values mediate relationship of basic personal value to voting” (p.423) such that basic personal values affect core political values which affect voter choice behavior outcomes (relationship of independent variable: basic personal values and dependent variable: core political beliefs.
    1. “The hypothesis for each political value specified one set of basic values expected to relate positively to the political value and another, motivationally opposed set, expected to relate negatively.” (pg. 437)
    2. In Hungary in the 1990s, it was found that core political beliefs such as traditional versus modern ideals were affected by basic personal values such that those with core beliefs of tradition were affected by tradition and conformity values and modern core belief were affected by stimulation, hedonism, and self-direction.
  2. Value–attitudes–behavior hierarchy
  3. Structure of basic personal values will measure up with core political beliefs on separate sides of circular structure model.

“The current research tests three broad hypotheses: 1) The circular motivational structure that organizes relations among basic personal values also organizes and gives coherence to core political values. 2) Both basic personal values and core political values predict voting choice systematically. 3) Core political values mediate the effect of basic personal values on voting choice.” (pg. 429)


  1. First, the authors decided if a basic personal value was aligned or in opposition to a given core political value such as tradition would be aligned with tradition, conformity, and security on the positive side basic personal values: hedonism, stimulation, self-direction, and universalism were on the opposite, negative side of the circular model.


  • core political beliefs and basic personal values fit circular behavior model suggesting the relationship between variables: basic personal values and core political beliefs can be organized and structured.  Left-right ideology fails here.
  • found correlation between basic personal values and core political beliefs in 47 of 48 relationships; greater relationship that left-right ideology
  • Using multiple regression analysis, found core political values mediated basic personal beliefs in voting suggesting the values-attitude-behavior model is correct.
  • found core political beliefs affect voting outcomes and core political beliefs are affected by basic personal values


In the Schwartz, et al, article, the authors argue that there is a difference between the two concepts of core political attitudes and basic personal values. How are each of these concepts defined by the authors?

  • The authors define two variables: basic personal values and core political beliefs.  These two variables are very different because the authors have argued basic personal values are not only separate from core political values but may actually have a positive and negative affect such that core political values are influenced by basic personal values.
  • The authors define basic personal beliefs as “abstract beliefs about desirable goals that transcend specific situations,” (p.428) and are substructured by measurements of power, achievement, hedonism, stimulation, self-direction, universalism, benevolence, tradition, conformity, and security.
  • The authors define core political values as beliefs and assumptions about government, citizenship, and society.  Core political values are substructured with measurements of law & order, traditional morality, equality, free enterprise, civil liberties, and blind patriotism.

What do Schwartz, et al, hypothesize with regard to the relationship between basic personal values and core political values?

  • The authors give two main hypothesis and the relationship between basic personal values and core political beliefs such that there may be modeled a “circular motivational structure that organizes relations among basic personal values also organizes and gives coherence to core political values” and that “core political values mediate the effect of basic personal values on voting choice.” (pg. 429)
  • The first hypothesized relationship is that a core political value will be aligned positively by basic personal beliefs that respond to it and be aligned negatively to basic personal values that do not respond to it.  This may be modeled in a circular structure where basic personal values was aligned or in opposition to a given core political value on a positive and negative side respectively.  For example, tradition would be aligned with tradition, conformity, and security on the positive side while the basic personal values: hedonism, stimulation, self-direction, and universalism were on the opposite, negative side of the circular model.
  • The second hypothesized relationship is that basic personal values affect core political values such that there exists a relationship of the independent variable: basic personal values and the dependent variable: core political beliefs.  For example, in Hungary in the 1990s, it was found that core political beliefs such as traditional versus modern ideals were affected by basic personal values such that those with core beliefs of tradition were affected by tradition and conformity values and modern core belief were affected by stimulation, hedonism, and self-direction.

What is the scale Schwartz, et al, create to measure core political values? Explain it, don’t just use direct quotes from the article.

  • Survey respondents answered a questionaire to measure core political values using frameworks by Feldman (1988), McCann (1997), Jacoby (2006), Gunther and Kuan (2007), and Schatz, Staub, and Lavine (1999).  The values measured were equality, free enterprise, traditional morality, law and order, blind patriotism, civil liberties, immigration, and military intervention.  Respondents were given statements and asked on a scale of increasing agreement whether or not they agreed or disagreed with the statement.  The scale was in five intervals, 1 was given for “completely disagreeing,” a 2 was given for agreeing slightly more at “agreeing a little”, a 3 was given to those who “agree somewhat”, 4 was coded for those who “agree a great deal,” and 5 was given for those who “completely agree.”  As the scale increases, respondents agree slightly more each interval.

How did Schwartz, et al., measure basic personal values? You should be able to answer this in a couple of sentences.

  • Schwartz et al. write that for each given basic personal value, “respondents indicate how similar the person is to themselves on a scale ranging from “very much like me—6” to “not like me at all—1.”  The scale is listed as decreasing from complete similarity at number 6 to complete difference at number 1.  The authors do not list the 6-1 decreasing scale.

Quiz submitted: 1713a

Third Short Writing Assignment
PSC 502
Spring, 2017

Read the material provided at this website describing the Belfast Project’s oral history project that focused on members of the Irish Republican Army:

Assume you are a member of the IRB at Boston College and you have been asked to vote on approval of the project before it is begun.
Basing your decision only on the article’s description of the project and the course material for this week on the protection of human subjects, how would you vote?
Would you approve it as described, deny it as described or ask for modifications?
Support your decision with a memo explaining how your conclusion is based on the existing principles in place for the protection of human subjects.

Your explanation should be presented in a 1-2 page, double-spaced essay with an introduction and conclusion. Email it to me before the end of day on Sunday, February 26.

Dominique Awis

24 February 2017

Methods of Inquiry

3rd Assignment

Project Approval

To fellow colleagues,

As a member of the IRB at our Boston College, I must relay my opinion to the committee on the project. The project involves collecting interviews over a long-term period of several years. This will come at great costs the committee and must be fully considered. I must say that it will be a dangerous venture to interview members of a former Irish terrorist group, and the interviews must be conducted with utmost safety that cannot be guaranteed.

For the protection of the interviewees, I must regretfully disagree with the premise of the project and therefore will cast my vote against approval of the project unless certain guarantees may be met. Scientific inquiry is of the utmost importance to me, however, I cannot, in good conscious, vote on a project that would potentially put the lives of the interviewees at risk because of strict ethical research standards we should live by as professional scientists.

The study will be conducting interviews with dangerous former “criminals” or those who broke the law committing acts of rebellion, terrorism, and treason. There is no guarantee of the researcher who will conduct the interviewees safety. If the interviewer is proceeding at his or her own risk, I will overlook this caution. The main reason why I am inclined to deny the approval of this project is because the lives of the interviews cannot be guaranteed as safe. The interviews are bound to release incriminating information that could leave to the arrest and trial of the interviewees.

As a researcher of good conscious, I believe it would be in the interviews best interest if any incriminating information such as names, crime details, dates, etc. should be withheld from interviews. Ethically, it would be improper for the committee to let the interviewees incriminate themselves and fear of facing arrest. The committee must put the lives of the interviewees above research. If the Tuskegee experiments have taught us anything, it would be that lives of the subjects must be the first priority of researchers. I cannot personally in good conscious, as a citizen of the United States, collect evidence to brutal crimes such as murder, arson, and kidnapping and withhold that information from the state.

Because I cannot agree to have this information collected, the interviews would have to exclude any questions that could potentially record incriminating evidence that would lead to the disruption of the lives of the test subjects. In conclusion, unless the interviewer is careful in the questioning to leave out of the interviews any incriminating information such as names, dates, and places, I will not agree to the project. As researcher and scientists, we must uphold the highest ethical standards of research and that includes protecting the lives of the subjects.

Week 2,3, and 4: Methods of Inquiry

Week 2

Chapter 3

source: Halperin & Heath

To what extent can we separate facts and values in research?  

Positivism holds that facts are distinguishable from values and that science should be ‘value-free’.  Naturalism holds there is no difference between the scientific and social world and therefore should be studying according to scientific principles.

There is  a divide between empirical study, the study of what is, with normative study, the study of what ought to be.

Social science should strive to be value neutral but there will be slight bias in collecting data, in analysis, and in the conclusion.  The research process cannot be devoid of a researcher’s values completely.

Kuhn argued since science is a consensus as well as a process than it must be a social endeavor.  Science is a process of cumulative gradual knowledge acquisition.  Science is the falsification of theories, one theory works until it fails and a new theory arises in its place to correct where the first theory failed.  Science is made up of paradigms or models of theory used to understand the world.  Science is dominated by paradigm or schemes that scholars agree on about objects of investigation and the methods of investigation used.  I think by “box” or conceptual scheme Kuhn means a model.

In Lakatos’ theory, science isn’t a mob psychology but a process by which scholars choose one research programme over another rationally.  Scientific research programs unlike paradigms are based on a hard core of basic assumtions that are scientifically accpected, and an outer layer, the protective belt where theories are sought to be falsified.  Science in Lakatos’ theory holds theories undergo a rigourous and empirical process and if proven false are incrementally modified to the hard core of the theory.

Week 3

31 January 2017

Read Chapter 4 – completed


  1. Why would a methodological individualist object to a hypothesis about government agency actions? 
    1. The methodological individualism branch of research holds that “social concepts should be defined by individuals in their physic and physical states, actions, interactions, social situation, and physical environment,” (Halperin & Heath, p.87) meaning the unit of analysis is the individual and the dependent variable is the behavior of the individual therefore would require a metholodical approach therefore would reject the macro agential approach to government agency theory.  Methodological individualists study causation at the micro level, while government agencies should be studied at the macro level.  Government agency would be a structuralist variable and therefore more likely studied ontologically and epistemologically by a methodological holist.  A methodological individualist would more likely study the outcome behavior of individuals inside the government agency.  To reiterate, a methodological individualist would reject a hypothesis regarding a government agency except if studying an individual in the agency unless adopted a rational choice model where institutions like a government agency may be studying agentially.
  1. In this hypothesis, what are the independent and dependent variables and the units of analysis?
    • Individuals are more likely to pursue short-term goals than long-term goals.
      • The independent variable is the X variable, the variable known to cause the causation affect on the Y variable, or dependent variable.  The relationships may be positive or negative (inverse).
      • In this hypothesis, individuals are the independent variable.  It is unknown whether the individuals will be studied individually (agentially) using a n1, n2… form or whether the individuals will be studied as a group or summation of individuals (collective action).  The dependent variable or outcome variable are the short and long term goals.  The dependent variable may be categorically given two options here.
      • The causal mechanism in the relationship between the individual (independent variable) and outcome short-term and long-term goal (dependent variable) is the degree of interest in pursuing.
      • This is a epistemological question using ontologically gathered variables and given how the individuals variable is measured, it could be a methodolically individualistic hypotheis (n1, n2) or a methodolodically holistic hypothesis (collective behavior of individuals).
      • If I were to pursue an analysis of this hypothesis, I would methodically perform an analysis in which the independent variable: individuals was logically regressed to find the outcome of the short-term long-term goal question.

3.    In this hypothesis, what are the independent and dependent variables and the units of analysis?

  • African-American voters are more likely to vote for Democratic candidates than for Republican candidates.

In this hypothesis, there could be two relationships, therefore two independent and two dependent variables.  African-American voters can be measured as individuals (agential) or as a collective (structurally).  African Americans are the independent variable because they are the causes of the outcome.  The outcome or dependent variable is whether or not the candidate voted for a 1) Democratic candidate or if 2) voted for Democratic candidates overall.  To reiterate, independent variable 1 is an African American individual, and independent variable 2 is African Americans as a collective group.  Dependent variable 1 is categorical variable, a vote for or against a single candidate, and dependent variable 2 is an overall record of electing democratic candidates.

This question may both be studying methodically individualist or holistic depending on what variables one chooses.  If choose an micro-level individual African American that would be a methodically individualistic approach versus the alternative: studying African Americans as a macro-level group which is the holistic approach.  The unit of analysis would be the vote itself, the African American individual, and the outcome vote.

Given the independent variable is the individual African American and the dependent variable is a categorical variable with two dimensions: Democrat and Republican, I would preform a logistic regression to test for statistical significance.

One would have to be careful to hear to avoid a common ecological fallacy where assumputions are made on individuals based on aggregate data about individuals.  It would have to be an especially rigorous statistical test, that is if it is an empirical epistomolical question, to prove whether an individual is more likely to vote for a democratic candidate if he or she is African American (if X: being African American -categorical) results in a vote for a Democratic candidate (Y variable). The fallacy would be that one take aggregate data that measures individuals on the macral, collective structural level and assumes it will be able to predict micro agential level behavior.

In this hypothesis, what are the independent and dependent variables and the units of analysis?

  • In elections with two unpopular candidates, voter turnout will be lower than in elections with at least one popular candidate.

If I were to test this hypothesis, the first thing I would do is collect data.  I would find a sample of elections in a state perhaps and given a certain amount of time, then I would find each candidate’s popularity rating.  I would create one set where the elections were held with two unpopular candidates (Set A) and a set where there is atleast one popular candidate (Set B).  This would serve as the independent variables of the analysis.

The next step would be to gather dependent variable data: voter turnout.  I would match each election from Sets A and B and record the magnitude of turnout which would be how many individuals turned out for the election.  This measurement will be the dependent variable.

The results of my hypothetical analysis are found on the table below.  The results show the total number of  votes (my measurement for voter turnout) is the dependent variable.  The stacked barplot shows 3 sets of data totaled to 1905 for Set A and 3548 for Set B.  The independent variable is shown on the X axis, and it is the Sets, and therefore the elections.  The results of the hypothetical analysis shows that Set B (atleast one popular candidate) had the aggregate higher turnout of individuals and therefore not falsyfying the hypothesis.  The observational data (Set A: two unpopular candidates) showed a lower turnout (less aggregate votes) than Set B (one popular candidate) as the hypothesis guessed.  The expected data matched with the observational data therefore not proving this theory as falsified.

The units of analysis would be the elections: the candidates, the outcome of the election, as well as the individuals who turned out to vote.  The aggregate sum of the total number of individuals is not a unit of analysis but an aggregate summation of individual units.

Because I use a bar plot with the aggregate sets on the X axis and the total number of voters on the Y axis, this analysis is special because it is:

  1. An example of positivism where the social world is being studied like the natural world using statistical methods.
  2. An example of naturalism such that there is no distinction from the natural and social world
  3. empirical: using observations (results of an election is in quantifiable)
  4.  This hypothesis gives no causal mechanism for the relationship between the independent and dependent variables so no causal inference is made.
  5. An example of methodolical holism because voter turnout is measure as a collective macro agent rather than micro agent and elections are measured in a structural outcome.  Therefore, this knowledge is structural epistemology.
Election Voter Turnout
Set A1 543
       A2 654
       A3 323
       A4 NA
Set B1 786
       B2 564
       B3 433
       B4 NA


Submitted: 17sp-methods-of-inquiry and take-test_-quiz-2-17sp-methods-of-inquiry

Week 4

Lecture for the Week of February 7

The lecture item for this week is a video I want you to watch of Professor Katherine Cramer doing a presentation on her research on rural political resentment in Wisconsin. While you are watching this, pay attention to her main concepts, theory and hypotheses and research methods. The second short writing assignment asks you to describe her theory, concepts and hypotheses. In a later assignment, you will be asked about her research methods.

Here is the link:

In Blackboard, it usually works best to copy the link and paste it into a new page rather than click on it.

After you have listened to Professor Cramer’s presentation (see Lecture for Feb. 7), write a one-page description of Professor Cramer’s theory, her major concepts and the general hypotheses that made up her research. Your description should be written in narrative form rather than list form.  Put it in a document and email it to me before 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, February 12.  (I know an earlier version of the assignment schedule said to post it. Don’t – email it please.)

The Politics of Resentment Professor Katherine Cramer talked about her book The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker, in which she examines voter distrust. She spoke at the 2016 Wisconsin Book Festival, held at the Central Branch of the Madison Public Library.

Submitted: .pdf available here: 2ndshortassignment_awis-5

Week 1: Research Methods

Lecture: “quantitative and qualitative techniques for obtaining and organizing information. Lays a foundation for both academic and practical investigation questions that students will encounter throughout their careers in the field while conducting and evaluating research.”

Halperin and Heath tell us early on that their book “is concerned with how to formulate questions that are significant and how to develop meaningful and persuasive answers to them.” (p. 3)

source: Halperin & Heath, Chapter 1, Political Research and Chapter 2, Forms of Knowledge

Chapter 1

Approach to political research based on three positions:

  1. pluralism: qualitative and exploratory work; quantitative and comparative work
  2. problem-driven: what research question is being investigated
  3. relevance to important questions or policy issues

significant question: one that is ‘directly relevant to solving real-world problems and furthering the goals of a specific scientific literature.’

  • generate valuable knowledge about questions addressed
  • author makes clear and coherent argument about the conclusions they’ve reached

There is a tendency to separate real-world issues and normative issues and study of political ‘ideas and values’ as involving separate areas of research

Politics and international relations both concerned with nature of states, political systems, development, conflict, ideology, social movements, geopolitics, nationalism, political participation, and political philosophy.

Empirical: answers questions about real world

Normative: argue value systems over another; why one argument is more meaningful than another

Positivism: scientific knowledge of the social world is limited to what can be observed; empirical data, causal relationships

  1. scientific method
  2. observational data
  3. distinct facts and values

Interpretivism: knowledge of the social world gained through interpreting the meanings which give people reasons for acting; understanding human behavior

Quantitative research is statistical; qualitative is descriptive.

ontology and epistemology: questions about the complexities and ambiguities of knowing and gaining knowledge of the social world

methodological individualism: argues individuals are basic units in society and social life must be explained through actions of individuals

methodological holism: ‘social wholes’ as the basic unit of analysis, understood as distinct from it’s parts

Debate about the relationships between agents (actors) and structures which shape their actions

Descriptive questions: describe characteristics of something or model how it works

Explanatory questions: explain what factors or conditions are causally connected to a known outcome

Normative questions: what ought to be done

Hypothesis: in quantitative research, it is a prediction.  It may be described as a ‘haunch, assumption, suspicion, assertion or idea about a phenomenon, relationship, situation’

Research design: plan for research

  1. what observations to make and how to make them
  2. what test of evidence will confirm or disconfirm hypothesis
  3. data relevant to demonstrating the relationships and how will collect them
  4. Procedures and methods

Data collection and data analysis: experiments, interviews or focus groups, participant observation, or collective archival data or documentary records such as speeches, policy documents, or media reports.

Validity of measurement: description and detail; validity of inference: explanation and generalization


Chapter 2

Ontology is concerned with what is.  Epistemology is concerned with what is knowable, and methodology is concerned with how we obtain knowledge.


  • behavioralism application of positivism and empiricism
    • focused on behavior of individuals or parties, classes, interest groups, governments, and social movements
    • what political actors do and why
    • based on empirical observation, testing evidence, and causal determination
  • applying methods found in natural sciences
  • naturalism: no difference between scientific and social world
  • empiricism: what we know is limited to what we can observe
  • world is regular, systematic, and law governed
  • induction: means of reasoning with observations
    • gathering of facts as basis for laws
  • causation, X precedes Y
  • scientific method
  • Logical Positivism: logical reasoning and mathematics
  • Deduction: drawing implications from theory
  • Verifiability: basis for establishing truth claims
  • Falsifiability: anything non-falsifiable is outside science, requires ability to be falsified
  • Deductive-nomological model: logical and contains at least one law

Scientific realism: accepts the social and physical worlds are both similar, but holds realism such that the world operates independently from those around it; committed to identifying unobservable structures that work to generate observable outcomes

Causal mechanism: ‘series of events governed by lawlike regularities’

Inference: reasoning involved in the process of drawing conclusions based on facts or premises

Abduction: starts with a hunch that facts are connected in some way; can be confirmed with induction and deduction

Interpretivism: social world is fundamentally different from world of natural phenomena, and can’t explain it using methods used in the natural world


Quiz 1

Explain in your own words the distinction Halperin and Heath draw between positivism and scientific realism.  An adequately developed answer should contain a definition of each concept and a explanation of the important distinctions between the two.

Positivism asserts that scientific knowledge of the social world is limited to what can be observed and is based on empirical data and causal relationships.  Positivism incorporates the scientific method process and uses distinct facts and values acquired from observations of the natural world.  Positivism in an ontological sense, that is, nature of the physical world, accepts that the social world is no different than the natural world such that phenomena act according to causality.  Positivism often incorporates behavioralism such that the behaviors of individuals and actors are studied meticulously.  Behavioralism involves collecting observations and testing.

Positivist studies use scientific method reasoning such that a process of data collecting, hypothesis testing, and conclusions are drawn from the observed results of analysis.  Positivist scholars argue what can be known is limited to observations and that without rigorous testing using the lawlike scientific method, conclusions about the physical or social world cannot be drawn.  Positivism uses statistical methodology.

Scientific Realism takes on a naturalist ontology such that the social world is separate from our behavior and exists independently from it.  Scientific Realism accepts the social and physical worlds are both similar, but maintains a realist perspective such that the world operates as a isolated entity.  Scientific Realists are concerned with unobservable phenomena such that unobservable agents might have a causal affect and generate an outcome.

Scientific Realism unlike Positivism uses theories to explain the natural and social world, such that unobservable entities can be examined indirectly.  Positive holds the opposite such that only through observation can outcomes be examined.  Scientific Realists use logic and deductive means to analyze phenomena.  Both Scientific Realism and Positivism use  the scientific method however while Positives draw conclusions based only on observable data, Scientific Realists draw conclusions based on theories and indirect methods.

On pages 44-46, Halperin and Heath present analyses of ethnic conflict from a positivist perspective and from an interpretivist perspective.  What are the major differences in the questions each approach asks about ethnic conflict? What are the major differences in the results each approach comes up with?

The Positivist or Rational Choice approach to ethnic conflict in Yugoslavia would be to analyzse actors or agents and determine what strategies the actor would use and what would be the resulting outcome.  The approach holds actors and agent’s behavior is observable and therefore an outcome may be predicted to a certain degree; this is a type of game theory.

When applied to ethnic conflict, Rational Choice scholars have asked what outcomes (what behavior an actor or agent would appear to make) given certain conditions with a given level of uncertainty.  What moves would the actor or agent make given a situation and under certain conditions?  For example, to explain rapid polarization or ethnic groups in Croatia following independence, behavior models can be used to calculate what scenarios lead to the outcome, in this case, polarization.  Scholars model behavior then use deduction to find what scenarios and conditions fit with the model of behavior.

An interpretivist position, unlike the rational choice model, analyzes the behavior of individuals and what conditions the individual would be under to form the outcome of behavior.  In the case Yugoslavian crisis, scholars might argue how ethnic identity would affect behavior studying the means to why a crisis would occur.  Interpretivists use a model of ontology that argues the social world is not like natural phenomena but that the world is subjectively created by individuals; scholars discuss how cognitive features such as subjective perspectives influence outcomes of agent or actor behavior.  Interpretivists, unlike Positivist or rational choice scholars, do not seek causality or causal influences but argue studying the individual or personal mechanisms for behavior as a way of seeking truth.

submitted quiz 22 January: 171psc53514402