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Week 1 Notes

by: Janaki Padmakumar

Week 1 Notes CCJ3701

Janaki Padmakumar
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About this Document

These notes cover material addressed during the first and second week of class.
Research Methods in Criminology
Chris Gibson
Class Notes
criminology, research




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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Janaki Padmakumar on Friday September 2, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to CCJ3701 at University of Florida taught by Chris Gibson in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 30 views. For similar materials see Research Methods in Criminology in CRIMINOLOGY at University of Florida.


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Date Created: 09/02/16
CCJ3701 Research Methods in Criminology L1 Positivism Positivism: objective reality set apart from our perceptions of an event  Provides less bias Scientists can assume:  Study objectives can be observed and measured (e.g. can't observe the "devil")  Non- randomness: things observed and measures do not occur randomly o If crime was distributed randomly, it cannot be explained o Crime data shows that crime is not randomly distributed- instead occurs in clusters; indicative of no random patterns o Leads to conclusion that there must be a reason why crime clusters  No proof, only support of theory o Statistical analysis allows for a certain degree of confidence, but never 100% proof Cesare Lombroso  1853-1909 "founder of positivist school"  Physician in the Italian army  Theory of innate criminality and criminal anthropology o Evolutionary theory saying innate/born criminals have certain body features; trained eye can show that they "specialize" in a certain form of crime o Has some merit since criminality does have genetic component; lacks merit bc physical features can't be attributed to crime  Discovery of physical features indicating criminality  "The Criminal Man" o Asymmetry of the face o Eye defects o Deviated head size/ larger heads o Unusual ears o Pouches in cheeks o Excessively long arms o Large jaws o High cheekbones  Theory was bogus, but he gets credit for pushing towards objectivity- did a study as well Scientific evidence: 121 male criminals, 328 "upright men"  Took measurements for numerical basis to claim: Criminals generally have smaller brains on average (measures done externally)  Started positivist line of thought- collect data, systematic analysis and draw conclusion about hypothesis being supported Errors in reasoning and observation  Overgeneralization o What we know to be true for some cases is true of all cases o Drawing conclusions based on interactions with a limited group of people o "The bad cop"- 5-10% officers who account for a disproportionate amount of misconduct within department across the US (based on grievances filed)  Selective or inaccurate observations o Choosing to look at things that fit with our beliefs or preferences o Dismiss things we don't believe in o Acknowledge instances that confirm predispositions of what we think o E.g. violent kid who is unlikely to be rehabilitated- hope that people can change, all they need is rehab, but comes back to commit violent crime again- can be selectively dismissed o Inaccurate observation- saying something was present when it wasn’t; saying something was not present when it was  Perceptions involve interpretation  Illogical reasoning o Prematurely jumping to conclusions on the basis of invalid assumptions o Violent video games and violence o It is unreasonable to state playing violent video games causes children to be violent- correlation does not prove causation o Also illogical to say playing violent video games has no effect o If A causes B, then you must also consider if B causes A  Resistance to change o Science changes constantly, perhaps a small amount, or perhaps a paradigm shift o Scientists should be open to change based on evidence; in spite of new accurate info, reluctant to change ideas  Devotion to traditions  Uncritical agreement with authority Recognizing errors  Refrain from stereotyping people and places  Avoid jumping to conclusions based on poor information  Looking at the big picture Error reduction  Reduce overgeneralization by representative samples of individuals or groups  Reduce selective or inaccurate observation with measurement and sampling o No "ruler" in social sciences since abstract concepts are being measured- methods will affect results  Avoid illogical reasoning using causal criteria (Mothers who smoke (A) have kids with early onset delinquency (B)) o A must happen before B occurs o There must be a relationship (A occurring changes B) o Rule out alternative factors explaining A and B occurring  Scientific methods allow us to base beliefs on evidence that can be examined Types of research-use dependent upon goal of research study  Descriptive  Explanatory o Identify cause and effect of a phenomenon o Predict how one phenomenon changes in response to changes in another o E.g. why is obesity higher in southern states compared to western states  Evaluation o Subset of explanatory research; e.g. evaluate effectiveness of a program in affecting delinquency o Determining effects of a social program or other intervention type o Kansas city gun experiment- BJA gave implementation money; Sherman, Shaw and Rogan  If police could get guns off the street, would there be fewer gun crimes? (Do so with focused patrol)  Additional patrols would increase gun seizures, which would control gun crimes Important research terms:  Types of data  Variables  Unit of analysis  Inductive and deductive reasoning  Measurement  Sampling types  Quantitative analysis L2 Research Questions Formulating a RQ Refining RQ Evaluating RQ Importance of criminological theory Marriage and reduction in crime (Samson and Loeb):  Some say marriage is last chance to take responsibility; bond between husband and wife prevents them from being around others who promote criminal behavior  Theory of age graded informal social control- ID data set within Harvard basement (Gluke and Gluke); 500 delinquents and 500 unlabeled matches); found that delinquents can change if they have a social bond to society- occurs in different age grades during life course; different based on developmental stage o Focus on adulthood- kids with persistent pattern in delinquency, if married and have a good quality marriage, tended to change- marriage acts as informal social control mechanism to reduce likelihood to reoffend Importance of criminological theory  Simply a interrelated set of propositions that are capable of explaining correlations or empirical realities in data- helps make sense of numerical values  Linkage between theoretical constructs within the theory, like crime, social control or delinquency  Helps to make predictions about criminological world  Guides research  Perhaps even affects public policy Moving from idea to data- deductive method (theory to hypothesis to data) Moving from data to idea- inductive method RQ- Are married men less criminal than non-married men? Does marriage cause men to quit their involvement in criminal offending? *Difference in wording causes different meaning in RQ; first question doesn't match up as well as second question Difference between RQ and research hypothesis: Hypothesis is statement derived through theory, question will contain theoretical concepts (like offending); not variables  Measuring concept? Variable of interest? Hypothesis is a statement about a relationship between two variables; RQs are focused on the conceptual (fear of crime, offending, marriage) Research question: Are married men less criminal than unmarried men? Research hypothesis: On average, married men are arrested less than unmarried men (arrests are the variable of interest)  Tentative, testable statement about the relationship between two variables Can have broad RQ derived from theory, and multiple hypotheses to test the theory Can measure number of arrest, self reporting on criminal behavior, etc.- on married men, avg should have lower arrest rate, drug/substance abuse issues if Samson and Loeb's theory is correct Variable: characteristic that varies Independent variable (IV): marriage used to explain differences in offending  Proposed influence on outcome  Explanatory variable- used to explain outcome  Predictor or cause (causal variable) Dependent variable (DV)  Outcome variable  Effect  Variation in this variable is a function of an independent variable Formulating a research question  Personal experiences  Vicarious experiences (hearsay based)  Question proposed by other researchers  Criminological theory  Pragmatic reasons o Financial or professional reasons Evaluating your research question  Feasibility o Time allotted to project o Funding- important since cost is associated with data collection; pay assistants, flights and presentations o Assistance o Departmental support o Gaining access to groups or people o Do data sets already exists  Social importance  Scientific relevance Importance  Importance for discipline  Importance for public policy  Importance for larger society Scientific relevance:  Grounded in scientific literature  What has been learned about your question? o Replication o Extension o Using different method for same question Important research terms"  Types of data  Variables unit of analysis  Inductive/deductive reasoning  Measurement  Sampling types  Quantitative analysis


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