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Nonreactive Research

Reactive vs. nonreactive research

 Reactive: people being studied are aware of being

studied. They may change their behavior because they
become aware that they are being watched or
 Experiments
 Surveys
 Nonreactive: Subjects are unaware they are
being studied
 Unobtrusive measures
 Often use naturalistic settings
These methods can include

 evaluating the things people possess (i.e.,

accretion measures),
 studying how things are used (i.e., erosion
 observing how individuals or groups behave
(i.e., unobtrusive observation), and
 analyzing information collected and made
available by someone else (i.e., archival
Strengths and Weaknesses
 Strengths and advantages
 No subject “confounds”
 Can assess actual behavior rather than self-report
 Safety
 Reliability
 Inexpensive
 Good for longitudinal data
 Weaknesses and disadvantages
 No control
 Often don’t know anything about the subjects
 Sample may not be representative
 Secondary information may have bias
 Need triangulation – looking at material from several
different perspectives gives a more accurate view of it.
Types of nonreactive research
 field research, secondary analysis, and content

o In field research, the researcher observes behavior(s)

in a natural setting.
o Another unobtrusive method is secondary analysis.
The researcher analyzes previously collected or
archival data. Sometimes the data are collected for
the purpose of another research project.
o A third and final type of non-reactive method is
content analysis. In a content analysis, the researcher
analyzes existing textual information to study human
behavior or conditions.
Content analysis
 A technique used to study written material by
breaking it into meaningful units, using
carefully applied rules.
 Use objective and systematic coding to
produce a quantitative description of the
observed material.
 Can analyze common myths
 Can also be used in a qualitative way
 Employ semiotic techniques
Content Analysis
 What can be studied
 Any written material
 Audio/visual information

 Useful for 3 types of research

 Problems involving a large volume of text
 Research from afar or in the past
 Revealing themes difficult to see with casual
Steps in content analysis
 1. Define problem / identify the issue to be
 2. Select the media that will be used
 3. Derive coding categories
 4. Sampling strategy – which sources will you
 5. Train the coders if using
 6. Code material by hand or with software
 7. Analyze the data
Human vs. computer coders
 Can often utilize computers
 Internet searches
 Automated text search
 Great for extremely large sets of data
 Personal judgment not part of the process
 Cheaper and faster than humans
 Humans
 Useful for coding complex concepts
 More flexibility
 Costs more time and money
Coding in a content analysis
 What gets counted?
 What is important for understanding themes?
 Structured observation – systematic observation
based on careful rules
 Coding systems
 Before you decide specifically on coding categories, you
must specify what you are going to measure
 A set of rules on how to systematically observe and record
content from text or images.
 What is the unit of analysis?
 One word
 One paragraph
 One theme
 One image
Characteristics of text content
 1. Frequency
 2. Direction
 3. Intensity
 4. Space
 Other things that could be counted:
 Characters

 Specific individuals

 Can also consider semantics – the meaning of the text

 Requires interpretation

 Must make judgment calls

 Or concepts
 Crime, mental illness

 Themes
Manifest and Latent Content

 Manifest
 Overt or visible material – can count
 Latent
 Symbolic content uncovered by semantic analysis – needs
to be coded first (inductive process) and then counted

 Can use both deductive and inductive approaches

to find categories (codes) for content analysis
 Divide sample in sections
 Use grounded theory on a smaller portion to develop
 Use those categories on the rest of the sample.
Deductive and Inductive Category

 Deductive
 Reasoning from the general to the specific
 Forming categories to score based on theoretical

 Inductive category formation

 Reason from the specific to the general
 Come up with categories from data
 Can obtain categories by using grounded theory
Grounded theory
 Theories are empirically grounded into the data.
 Data collection and analysis are combined.
 Cycle – observe data, modify theory, observe data based on
 3 stages of analysis in grounded theory
 1. Open coding: Find conceptual categories in the data
 2. Axial coding: Look at relationship between the categories
 3. Selective coding: To account for relationships, find core

 In grounded theory, meaning derived from the data

 For content analysis, grounded theory can help find
the appropriate codes to use.
 Quantitative analysis after that.
Sampling Strategy In Content
 Which sources will be used?
 Depends on purpose of study, theory, etc.
 Which dates will be used?
 What will be analyzed?
 All of article, every 2 pages, etc.
 Representative sample is important
 Can use various sampling procedures to obtain
 Random sampling
 Stratified sampling
 Purposive sampling – picking a sample for a particular
Analysis of Existing Statistics and
Secondary Analysis of Survey Data
 Also nonreactive
 Many sources of statistical data available
 Government statistics (i.e. Census Data)
 International agencies (i.e. World Health
Organization, the UN)
 Also many private sources
 Secondary analysis can be done when obtain “raw
data” and do statistical analysis for your own
research question
 Raw census data available to academic institutions