Interpersonal Communication Research: Advances through Meta-Analysis

By Mike Allen; Raymond W. Preiss et al. | Go to book overview

Secondary data analysis has certain advantages over traditional meta-analysis, because the original data are available in all their detail. Meta-analysts have to work with data summaries, in the form of reductive statistics. That is, a meta-analyst takes, say, a series of correlations as his or her input data for the meta-analysis, but a secondary data analyst has the raw data and can recalculate the correlation. If only the average correlation from a group of studies were of interest, secondary data analysis would offer no advantage and involve more trouble. However, if issues beyond those discussed in the original reports are to be explored, secondary data analysis may offer more opportunity than does meta-analysis. If this study had been meta-analytic, all we would have been able to add to the original reports would have been a more secure estimate of the size of situation's effects; we would not have been able to provide the details and explanations that we feel are the substantive value of this report. This study was only possible, however, because we actually have access to all the raw data. This is an argument for researchers not only preserving and documenting their raw data, but also being willing to share it.

In the course of presenting the results of our second study, we have already discussed the details of our findings, and will not repeat them here. We wish to emphasize, however, that our findings are sensible and securely based on a large sample. They constitute new information that was unavailable even to anyone who closely read every one of the original papers. Persuasion is a common component of interpersonal relationships and encounters, and the way we go about trying to influence others depends in part on the situation. We may take the situation as given, or try to reframe it so as to change its values on the perceptual dimensions studied here. Either way, we will react to the situation, just as we react to our personal goals and to the other person.

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