Review of Sociology: Analysis of a Decade

By Joseph B. Gittler | Go to book overview

attention. Winch (117) reports some success with the hypothesis that marital partners show more than a chance amount of complementarity of needs. Schutz (92) reports success in composing groups to be compatible and incompatible on the basis of personality tests he constructed to measure degrees of liking for close personal relationships, degrees of need for a dependent, power structured relationship, and various defensive syndromes centering on these variables. Maas (70) reports an experiment in which leaders who tend to project blame, as a personality characteristic, perceive and behave in a more objective and less biased way when put in informal groups with open membership and activity programs, but less objectively when placed in formal groups. Leaders who tend to introject blame are more objective in the formal groups and less so in the informal groups. Several other experiments in this area are known to be under way but not yet reported.


CONCLUDING REMARKS

The amount of convergence in findings from a number of studies and the cumulative growth of relevant information is encouraging and in some cases impressive. Rigor in sociological research of group behavior is in its infancy but shows promise. More comprehensive data gathering researches are greatly needed. Once an area has been opened by a small study that presents an ingenious and inventive idea, the need appears for larger scale studies which aim at the collection and systematic reduction of data rather than hypothesis testing in the more specific sense. In the normal meaning of the term, hypothesis testing requires both systematic theory and measures of known reliability and validity. Hypotheses cannot really be tested in single first studies, no matter how ingenious and useful they may be in other respects. Nor can maximally useful theory be invented without reference to measured variables. What passes for theory in the field today is not always empirically based, at least not in the ordinary conception of science. Generally speaking, even the empirically based theory tends to be top-heavy with necessarily vague and undefined concepts and at the bottom tends to be thin and poorly anchored in operationally defined variables.

It is not enough that a conceptually defined variable has some operational definition in some highly specific situation. The specificity of the situation being researched or of the method used to measure a given variable may be so great that each such test must stand as a separate case history. A large amount of research is required to establish the degree of equivalence of various possible measures and thus to obtain conceptualized variables that can be operationally defined over a wide range of

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