Measures of Biochemical Sociology

By Snell, Joel; Marsh, Mitchell | Journal of Instructional Psychology, September 2008 | Go to article overview
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Measures of Biochemical Sociology

Snell, Joel, Marsh, Mitchell, Journal of Instructional Psychology

In a previous article, the authors introduced a new sub field in sociology that we labeled "biochemical sociology." We introduced the definition of a sociology that encompasses sociological measures, psychological measures, and biological indicators Snell & Marsh (2003). In this article, we want to demonstrate a research strategy that would assess the three areas.


Sociological Indicators

Let's assume that an individual is either anxious and/or depressed. The sociological measures would ask questions that deal with group and individual overt stressors.

The Daily Stress Inventory, Weiss & Lonnquist (2003) asks such questions as "performed poorly at a task."

The Revised Social Readjustment Rating Scale Weiss & Lonnquist (2003) includes a question such as "fired at work."

On the whole, the sociological measures are extremely valuable, but incomplete. To this, we add the psychological dimension.

Psychological Indicators

There is overlap here but we want to state that the psychological usually covers intra-psychic phenomena with secondary external stressors. As an example, a validated biometric scale recognized in the psychiatric and psychological field is the Hamilton Depression Scale (Ham-D). This asks questions related to suicidal ideation, feelings of guilt, depressed mood, and feelings of paranoia. Williams (1988). A second validated biometric scale is the Hamilton Anxiety Scale(HamA) covers panic feelings, anxiety symptoms and related. Williams (1988)

Again, the measures are helpful but incomplete, because we do not have any biological evidence of pathology.

Biological Measures

We want to be general here, because the field is so new and novel to social science researchers. Additionally, we will call this a biological profile. It is not complete, but provides examples of biological measures. We also want to suggest that by bringing three fields together with ad hoc measures of scales, indexes, and inventories, that essentially, we feel more comfortable in calling all three fields and their related measures "indicators."

The individual is first asked if they have experience a "significant weight loss or gain" previous to the initial interview. Second, an additional question would include whether the respondent has been sleeping more or less than their "usual" sleep pattern. The third would be to draw an ordinary blood chemistry sample and measure if their cortisol level (a stress hormone) and check for excursions from the normal range indicating an imbalance.

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