May 18, 2007

Dissertation Surveys

In the last couple of months, I have filled out two online surveys of regular blog readers, both part of dissertation projects by political science graduate students at the same university, and both referred by Bitch, PhD. This is a program that runs heavily in political psychology, and American Politics.

There's this nagging feeling about both that makes me question their research design, and especially their underlying assumptions about how people respond to politics. The thing is, that both had the survey takers read a passage, answer some questions, and then respond (via a closed set) about how reading the passage made them feel. No questions about thinking (and most of the other questions were also not about thinking, but rather belief systems).

Feelings, American politics is nothing more than, fee-lings...

Argh. And I can't get it out of my head.

Posted by binky at May 18, 2007 03:53 PM | TrackBack | Posted to Petty Rants | Politics | Random Thoughts | Science | The Academy


I'm a little confused - Do you know what the research question(s) is? And if you don't ... well, how sure can you really be that they are poorly designed? I mean there's tons of research pointing to "feelings" driving political views and people's votes, so ... well is your problem with the survey? Or with how people (voters) operate?

Posted by: Armand at May 18, 2007 05:39 PM | PERMALINK

No, I know the research is all about feelings, and I don't know the research question, which is why I have that funny itch. I mean, from my end of things, I would think that one would want to link feelings to cognitions and behaviors, right? Or maybe they aren't interested in cognition at all, and are going straight for the feeling/behavior link. Which to me betrays the underlying psychology (cognition->emotion->reaction). Especially since some of the questions had to do with belief systems and seemed to lean toward rational/irrational systems as conditioners of emotional responses to political messages.

I know that I am most likely an extreme outlier, but when you get a whole battery of questions about how reading a certain passage made you feel, I am left with no answer. It strikes me as making an assumption about how people react to and engage politics, even though "the masses" as such may behave in certain ways based on their feelings, I'm not sure what reading an excerpt from a blog post/comment and choosing from angry, sad, etc really tells us about the way individuals translate their emotions into political behavior.

All that being said, I imagine the research question is on whether reading blogs makes one angry/excited/etc enough to go out and do something. It struck me as rather an incomplete design in that it didn't tap into a person's thinking about blogs. It seemed to assume a connection that I am not sure has been demonstrated in the literature (regarding feelings, behavior and blogs) even if the feelings and politics connection has been made.

Mostly I just hate the surveys because of the earworm.

Feeelings! Whoah whoah whoah feeeeeelings!

Posted by: binky at May 18, 2007 07:31 PM | PERMALINK
Post a comment

Remember personal info?