Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Refining the Research Area

I'm using the steps included in Mildred Patten's Proposing Empirical Research. It is set up with instruction on different topics and walks you through the whole research process, from choosing a topic of study on into conducting the study and drawing conclusions.

TOPIC 1: What is empirical research?
  1. What will you observe? personality, culture, and happiness.
  2. The main variable is : answers to questions regarding happiness, and Big Five personality tests.
  3. Other variables: secondary data.
  4. Whom might you observe? general representation of people in different states & regions.
  5. How can you observe this variable? Surveys and personality testing.
  6. When might you make the observations? Using secondary data, observations already made.
TOPIC 2: Identifying Broad Problem Areas
  1. Problem Area: personality, happiness, and culture
  2. Description of interest: I question how personality and happiness is passed on through culture. I also question whether a "good fit" between culture and personality makes people happier. By moving can we make a better fit? I believe so, because I did it myself, moving from the Deep South to New England, based on my personality traits.
TOPIC 3: Identifying and Combining Variables
  1. Topic area: personality + culture = happiness?
  2. Is the area in the mainstream of social work? Culture is, and we are learning more about personality through the Big Five theories, happiness (well-being) is one of our core concerns.
  3. Is there a substantial body of literature on the problem area? Yes, I think so. Prof. Hudson has directed to me some references he used in his paper on the geography of mental health, dealing with happiness and personality, and region. He assures me there is lots of new research on connections between personality and happiness. I also know that Refrow has done much study on culture/place and personality.
  4. Is the problem area timely? Oh, yes! This is an emerging area that is getting a lot of attention right now. And, also needs further study, which I want to do.

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