A general model for multivariate analysis by Jeremy D. Finn

By Jeremy D. Finn

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This clearly separates the social from the natural sciences. Sociology therefore does not deal with associations among variables per se, but with variables that are associated via acting people. There are at least three consequences for causal relations. First, in methodological terms, this means that if individuals relate causes and effects through their actions, then research on social processes should at best be based on individual longitudinal data (Coleman and Hao 1989; Coleman 1990; Blossfeld and Prein 1998; Goldthorpe 2000).

Emotional and behavioral problems when the respondent was a child). In such cases, panel studies are indispensable (Medical Research Council 1992). Limited Capacity. There is a limit to respondents’ tolerance for the amount of data that can be collected on one occasion (Medical Research Council 1992). A carefully corsetted panel design can therefore provide a broader coverage of variables (if these are not unduly influenced by variations at the time of assessment). Only Survivors. Due to their nature, retrospective studies must be based on survivors.

25 There is also another aspect that is important here (see Lieberson 1985): Causal relations can be symmetric or asymmetric. In examining the causal influence of a change in a variable X on a change in a dependent variable Y , one has to consider whether shifts to a given value of X from either direction have the same consequences for Y . For example, rarely do researchers consider whether an upward shift on the prestige scale, say from 20 to 40, will lead to a different outcome of Y (say family decisions) than would a downward shift of X from 60 to 40.

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