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Sociology

As you read in Chapter 1, sociology is an empirical discipline, which means that sociologists use scientific methods to systematically observe and analyze the social world. Sociologists interested in gender, or any other topic, use a variety of methods and data sources – like analysis of in-depth interviews, ethnographic methods (involving lots of observations and, often, participation in the groups of interest), examination of large-scale survey data, and content analysis (for example, analysis of magazine or newspaper articles). It can also involve experiments! Experiments are often conducted by social psychologists, who are either trained as sociologists or psychologists.

In preparation for our discussion this week, you’ll be participating in an ongoing social psychological experiment conducted by researchers at Harvard. They have been collecting data (for almost two decades!) on people’s attitudes about a lot of topics – including gender. In particular, they are studying people’s implicit attitudes (i.e., those occurring outside of conscious awareness and control) as opposed to explicit attitudes (i.e., those that you deliberately think about and report – to a friend, co-worker, social scientist, or someone else!) After getting IAT results, address EACH of the following in our first discussion (yay!) See attachments for the IAT results.

Do you think the results gave an accurate portrait of your attitudes related to gender? Why or why not? In explaining your answer, be sure to discuss BOTH of these possible explanations.
Consistency – or inconsistency — between implicit and explicit attitudes: Why might people’s implicit and explicit attitudes be inconsistent? What social factors are influencing each of them? (30 points)
Methods for tapping into attitudes: What is your assessment of the IAT, as a method of gauging people’s implicit attitudes about gender? What are its strengths and weaknesses? (30 points)
Give an example of another way that social scientists could measure people’s attitudes about gender. You could discuss a method for examining either explicit or implicit attitudes. Just be sure to clearly state the type of attitude to which you’re referring. What might be its benefits over the IAT? (20 points)

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