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The Factorial Survey as a method for studying human judgements

Target group

Members of the Doctoral School of Arts, Humanities and Law & Doctoral School of Social and Behavioural Sciences. Participants should have a general level of knowledge in univariate, bivariate and multivariate (regression) analysis.

Level

All PhD students

Content

The factorial survey approach is a quasi-experimental vignette method that was introduced by the American sociologist Peter Rossi about 30 years ago. This method is used to study the social and individual determinants of human judgements, and it may be used to study a range of different judgements, including positive beliefs (beliefs about how something is), normative judgements (judgments about how something ought to be) and individuals' intentions to act. It may be used to study judgements and attitudes in the general population, or in a selected group, such as for example a profession. According to the principles of this method, the respondents make judgements of fictive descriptions, which have been constructed by systematically or randomly selecting one level from each of a number of dimensions, which are considered as potential determinants of the judgement of interest.

Criminologists are only recently recognizing the full potential of this approach in the study of crime and deviance and normative attitudes of field workers in the criminal justice system. It is fair to say that in previous (criminological) inquiries, the full range of possibilities of  the factorial survey have not been explored, because criminologists are not familiar with the more sophisticated possibilities of the factorial survey approach. Hence we have detected a need for a methods course in which researchers and PhD-students can learn how to use this technique optimally. On successful application of the factorial survey approach, combined with a regular paper & pencil survey is the original study of Haar and Wikström in the European Journal of Applied Mathematics (2010).

Lecturers

Dr Lisa Wallander (Malmö University, Faculty of Health & Society, Sweden)

Lisa Wallander will be the main lecturer of the course. She has a PhD in Sociology and is a Senior Lecturer in Health and Society (quantitative research methods) at Malmö University. She currently holds a postdoctoral position (2011-2013) and conducts research on professional judgments (focusing on social work), professional education and the factorial survey approach. She teaches courses on quantitative methods for the social sciences, sociological theory and theories/research on professional judgments in the Social Work Bachelor Programme and the Criminology Bachelor Programme. Some of her studies on the factorial survey appeared in the European Journal of Sociology.

Carsten Sauer (Bielefeld University, Faculty of Sociology, Germany)

Carsten Sauer is the prime expert on the technical issues involved in carrying out factorial surveys. He is a PhD-student at Bielefeld University (Faculty of Sociology), but he has a lot of experience with the approach as he conducted several studies on the factorial survey in the past:

  • 10/2007-12/2008: Research fellow in the research project "The Factorial Survey as a Method for Measuring Attitudes in Population Surveys" at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Institute of Sociology, funded by the German Research Foundation
  • 1/2009-9/2010: Research fellow in the research project "The Factorial Survey as a Method for Measuring Attitudes in Population Surveys" at the Faculty of Sociology, Bielefeld University, funded by German Research Foundation

Programme

18 March 2013

Specialist course - part 1

Lecturer: Dr Lisa Wallander

9:00-11:00
  • The use of the factorial survey in social science I
  • The general principles of the factorial survey approach
11:00-11:15
Coffee break
11:15-12:45
  • The use of the factorial survey in social science II
  • The construction of a factorial survey design
12:45-13:30
Lunch
13:30-15:30
  • Construction of a factorial survey design – practical applications I
  • The students' own factorial survey designs (supervision and discussion)
15:30-15:45
Coffee break
15:45-17:45
  • Construction of a factorial survey design – practical applications II
  • The students' own factorial survey designs (supervision and discussion)
19 March 2013

Transferable skills seminar, cluster Research & Valorization

Lecturer: Carsten Sauer

9:00-11:00 Sampling in factorial surveys I
11:00-11:15 Coffee break
11:15-12:45 Sampling in factorial surveys II
12:45-13:30 Lunch
13:30-15:30 Factorial surveys in online surveys
15:30-15:45 Coffee break
15:45-17:15 Data management in factorial surveys
20 March 2013

Specialist course - part 1

Lecturer: Dr Lisa Wallander
8:30-10:30
  • Data analysis – Modelling strategies
  • Modelling on the basis of theory; Taking account of the hierarchical structure of the data (Multilevel modelling)
10:30-10:45 Coffee break
10:45-12:45
  • Data analysis – Practical applications I
  • Modelling the social component of judgements (statistical analysis and interpretation of results)
12:45-13:15 Lunch
13:15-14:45
  • Data analysis – Practical applications II
  • Modelling the individual component of judgements (statistical analysis and interpretation of results)
14:45-15:00 Coffee break
15:00-17:00
  • Summary and Discussion
  • Discussion with a focus on the students' own factorial survey projects

Selected bibliography

  • Wallander, L. (2012). Measuring social workers' judgements: Why and how to use the factorial survey approach in the study of professional judgements. Journal of Social Work, 12 (4), 364-384.
  • Wallander, L. (2009). 25 years of factorial surveys in sociology: A review. Social Science Research, 38 (3), 505-520.
  • Wallander, L. & Blomqvist, J. (2008). Modeling ideal treatment recommendations: A factorial survey of Swedish social workers' ideal recommendations of inpatient or outpatient treatment for problem substance uses. Journal of Social Service Research, 35 (1), 47-64.
  • Wallander, L. & Blomqvist, J. (2005). Who "needs" compulsory care?: a factorial survey of Swedish social workers' assessments of clients in relation to the care of abusers (Special Provisions) Act. Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 22 (English supplement), 63-85.
  • Sauer, C., Auspurg, K., Hinz, T., & Liebig, S. (2011). The Application of Factorial Surveys in General Population Samples: The Effects of Respondent Age and Education on Response Times and Response Consistency. Survey Research Methods, 5(3), 89-102.
  • Müller-Engelmann, M., Donner-Banzhoff, N., Keller, H., Rosinger, L., Sauer, C., Rehfeldt, K., & Krones, T. (2012). When Decisions Should Be Shared: A Study of Social Norms in Medical Decision Making Using a Factorial Survey Approach. Medical Decision Making.
  • Wikström, P.-O. H., Oberwittler, D., Treiber, K., & Hardie, B. (2012). Breaking rules. The social and situational dynamics of young people's urban crime (First ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Venue

Faculty of Law

Language

English

Number of participants

Max. 10

Evaluation criteria (doctoral training programme)

Presence and active participation. The students are also expected to intensely prepare the seminar by writing a short paper in which they explain the main goal of each research project and explicitly state the key hypotheses that are to be tested. That paper should contain a draft version of the vignettes, the key concepts in each study. This draft is to be sent by e-mail to the course lecturers at least one week before the start of the course, so that the lecturers can adequately prepare the course. During the course the participants will exercise further on how to create and develop their vignettes. As such, the PhD student receives personal comments and feedback on the constructions of vignettes and the use of the factorial survey approach in their own PhD study.

Registration fee

Free of charge for members of the UGent-Doctoral Schools

Registration & Information

Please contact Jannie Noppe

Selected candidates have to hand in a short paper in English (3000 words, excl. attachments) by the 28th of February 2013.