Multivariate Applications in the Social Sciences

Multivariate Applications in the Social Sciences

Multivariate Applications in the Social Sciences

Multivariate Applications in the Social Sciences

Excerpt

Textbooks in multivariate methods proliferate, but there are few books concerned with their application. This is unfortunate, as students may learn the techniques without having any idea how to conceptualize or design a study that can be analyzed by multivariate methods, nor how to apply these methods to particular sets of data. In his 1957 presidential address to the American Psychological Association, Lee J. Cronbach lamented the bifurcation of psychology into two distinct groups: the experimental psychologists and the correlational psychologists. Experimental psychology and its associated method of statistical data analysis, analysis of variance, has tended to dominate psychological thinking even in such areas as social and clinical psychology, two areas that are particularly ill-suited to simple analysis-of-variance statistical models. Social and clinical psychology typically study situations that involve the myriad of psychological factors that cause a person to behave in a particular way. Unlike experimental psychology with its emphasis on the manipulation and control of relatively few variables in a laboratory setting, correlational, or multivariate psychology is designed to handle many variables and to determine the relevance of those variables to behavior.

Thus the recent emphasis of clinical and social psychology on applied research relevant to social problems requires that more attention be paid to multivariate methods and appropriate research designs. There is every reason to believe that the classic experimental research designs are inadequate to cope with the complexity of human behavior as it occurs in natural settings. Despite the fact that the two types of statistical models, the analysis-of-variance model and the multivariate model, share a common algebraic base, psychologists still show a prejudice in favor of one or the other. Although this book illustrates and exam-

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