Research in psychology — страница 3

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it as calling for an ‘‘arbitrary’’ process of assigning numbers to events, asked us to ‘‘imagine a world where we each developed our own measures of length or temperature,’’ and cited the multitude of personality measures that exist as an example of how things have, in fact, already gotten out of hand. I do not find these arguments convincing. For one thing, any concern about diversity of viewpoints surely holds at least as clearly for qualitative research, which Stam supports. Moreover, while I agree with Stam that cooperation in the field is desirable, I do not believe my position works against it. My second point about interpretation is relevant here. I am not advocating inquiry that is interpretive in the sense that it is based on however an investigator

happens to think about things. As I suggested in my position paper, practices of inquiry are relative to investigators’ prereflective understanding, but they are not arbitrary. Interpretive inquiry does not lead to a problematic free-for-all by any means. Only certain ways of proceeding will prove to be useful for people who are participants in a shared world of practical activities (see Sugarman & Martin, 2005). Furthermore, investigators can make their procedures public and cooperate in using one set of measures when that seems useful in a given situation, even if they can never fully explicate the procedures because they always refer beyond themselves to the background of the shared world. It is true that there is likely to be a diversity of approaches to any given

issue, but this is desirable. Diversity in measures and other research procedures often is a function of differences in research goals (see Westerman, 2004, p. 137). Fundamentally, diversity in approaches is both good and necessary because investigators in psychology address issues that do not have final, determinate answers. 3. How is interpretive quantitative research helpful? Even if employing interpretive quantitative measures does not have the downside of leading to a confusing free-for-all, we can still ask, along with Stam, whether there is something to be gained by using numbers in our investigations. As I pointed out in my position paper, I agree with researchers who embrace positivism about some of the useful features of quantitative measures and quantitative research

procedures in general (e.g., they enhance our ability to investigate group differences without being unduly influenced by dramatic instances of a phenomenon). I want to mark out an additional basis for appreciating what quantitative methods have to offer. In my position paper, I argued that quantitative research procedures can make a special contribution because they require us to concretely specify our ideas about psychological phenomena. I endorsed such measurement procedures as relational coding, which could be called ‘‘soft’’ measurement, but I also discussed how what could be considered ‘‘strong’’ measures and related quantitative procedures (e.g., coding discrete behaviors, conducting experiments) also offer useful ways to concretely specify phenomena of

interest—although I argued for reconceptualizing these methods as interpretive procedures and recognizing that they do not exhaustively specify the constructs and processes under investigation. Now, I want to extend my analysis of the ways such ‘‘apparently strong’’ measures and procedures can be extremely helpful. To begin with, ‘‘apparently strong’’ procedures can be highly informative about particular situations that are of interest in connection with particular applied problems. For example, consider Wood’s (e.g., Wood & Middleton, 1975) paradigm for examining how mothers scaffold their children’s attempts to learn how to build a block puzzle, which I referred to in my position paper. That paradigm includes a clearly delineated procedure for

identifying the specificity of parental bids at guiding a child. Although the goal is to explore a relational process (i.e., do mothers home in and out contingently as a function of the child’s moment-to-moment success), the specificity measure does not rely on relational coding. Instead, each bid is coded based on its own properties. Investigating parent–child interaction in this specific situation has been shown to have applied utility. In a study I conducted (Westerman, 1990), assessments of maternal behavior in the context of Wood’s paradigm discriminated between mother–preschooler dyads with and without compliance problems. In an experimental study, Strand (2002) found that teaching mothers to home in and out when they show their children how to build Wood’s puzzle