# What is A Theory? How Do We Test Theories? Men’s Basketball 7 VS. 7 Goooo Cougs! Woohoo.

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What is A Theory? How Do We Test Theories? Men’s Basketball Thurs @ 7 VS. Sat @ 7 Goooo Cougs! Woohoo

What Kinds of Questions Can Criminologists Ask? Questions of FACT Questions of FACT Empirical Evidence Empirical Evidence –information you gather through the use of your senses.

What is Theory? Theory is a logical model specifying relationships among variables as an explanation for the way things are. Theory is a logical model specifying relationships among variables as an explanation for the way things are. Variable Variable –anything that can vary  age, education, income, SES, delinquency

Basic Components of Theory Lists what we want to explain—the dependent variable Lists what we want to explain—the dependent variable Lists what we believe causes what we wish to explain—the independent variable(s) Lists what we believe causes what we wish to explain—the independent variable(s) Explains how the independent variables cause the effect or the dependent variable. Explains how the independent variables cause the effect or the dependent variable. Conditioning variables: circumstances under which the independent variables are more likely to effect the dependent variable. Conditioning variables: circumstances under which the independent variables are more likely to effect the dependent variable.

Examples of DV, IV & Conditioning Variables Example 1: Living in a poverty stricken area causes delinquency. Example 1: Living in a poverty stricken area causes delinquency. Example 2: Living in a poverty stricken area is more likely to result in delinquency if there is a lack of informal social controls in that area. Example 2: Living in a poverty stricken area is more likely to result in delinquency if there is a lack of informal social controls in that area.

Why is Theory Important? Explanation/Gives us insights into human behavior-why people do the things they do Explanation/Gives us insights into human behavior-why people do the things they do Helps to inform policy—the prevention & control of juvenile delinquency Helps to inform policy—the prevention & control of juvenile delinquency

How Do We Test Theories of Delinquency? (Variables) Operationalize independent and dependent variables Operationalize independent and dependent variables Example: Example: –The higher an individuals social class the less likely they are to smoke crack. –What is the DV? The IV? –How would we operationalize these variables?

How Do We Test Theories of Delinquency? (Data Collection) Surveys Surveys –Questionnaires –Interviews Experiments Experiments Field Studies Field Studies –Observation  Nonparticipant  Participant observer  Complete Participant

How Do We Test Theories of Delinquency? (Data Collection) Case Studies Case Studies Aggregate Data/Secondary Data Aggregate Data/Secondary Data –UCR, NCVS, NYS Importance of TRIANGULATION Importance of TRIANGULATION –using more than one method Longitudinal vs. Cross Sectional Data Longitudinal vs. Cross Sectional Data –over time vs. snap shot

How Do We Test Theories of Delinquency? (Sample) Random Sampling: each juvenile in the population has an equal chance of being selected to take part in the study. Random Sampling: each juvenile in the population has an equal chance of being selected to take part in the study. –Generalizability

How Do We Test Theories of Delinquency? (Analysis) The IV is associated with the DV The IV is associated with the DV The association is NOT due to chance (i.e. it is statistically significant) The association is NOT due to chance (i.e. it is statistically significant) The association is NOT due to other variables (i.e. spuriousness) The association is NOT due to other variables (i.e. spuriousness) The IV precedes the DV in time. The IV precedes the DV in time.

How Do We Test Theories of Delinquency? (Association) Positive Association: a high score on the IV is associated with a high score on the DV. Positive Association: a high score on the IV is associated with a high score on the DV. –Kids who spend more time at home alone have higher levels of delinquency. Negative Association: a high score on the IV is associated with a low score on the DV. Negative Association: a high score on the IV is associated with a low score on the DV. –The more prosocial activities kids are involved in the less likely they are to be delinquent. No Association No Association Association DOES NOT prove causation! Association DOES NOT prove causation!

How Do We Test Theories of Delinquency? (Controls) Holding variables constant Holding variables constant Example: Youth who play violent video games are more likely to be involved in playground fights than those youth who do not play violent video games, controlling for gender and SES. Example: Youth who play violent video games are more likely to be involved in playground fights than those youth who do not play violent video games, controlling for gender and SES. –What is the DV? The IV? Controls? –How would we operationalize the variables? –What type of association do we have here? –What does it mean if we our model is not statistically significant?

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