Objectivity, Operational Definitions, and Why They Matter

 

What is objectivity?

The opposite of subjectivity.

More specifically, ….

 

 

Subjective

Objective

Personal opinion (“I feel…”)

Fact (“The evidence shows…”)

Not directly observable: You have to interpret, read between the lines, to “see”  it.

 

Observable: Everyone can see it; even a video camera can see it.

Subjective descriptions may involve comments, adjectives, and labels that not everyone would say are accurate.

 

 

Example: The fanatics are planning an extravagant party at a luxurious New York hotel.

Objective descriptions are unbiased. People would agree that the descriptions are accurate (although they might argue that the descriptions leave out important aspects).

Example: They are planning a party at a New York hotel.

In your head

Out in real world

 

 

Operational definitions are objective recipes that other researchers can follow. Thus, just as a specific, clear, detailed recipe allows other cooks to recreate another cook’s dish, an operational definition allows other researchers to recreate a given researcher’s study. Operational definitions can be used to discuss some abstract, subjective concepts (e.g., “intelligence,” “love”) in objective terms.  Note that operational definitions, because they are objective, are useful.

 

 

1. Which recipe is more objective?

 

               Add one teaspoon of salt, one half teaspoon of pepper, and one teaspoon of garlic.

 

   Flavor it so it tastes good.

 

2. Which recipe is more useful?

   Add one teaspoon of salt, one half teaspoon of pepper, and one teaspoon of garlic.

 

               Flavor it so it tastes good.

 

3. Which advice is more objective?

   You can tell when someone is lying because they give off a lying vibe.

 

       When people tell lies, they use fewer personal pronouns (e.g., “I”), and they use fewer words.

 

4. Which advice is more useful?

       You can tell when someone is lying because they give off a lying vibe.

 

   When people tell lies, they use fewer personal pronouns (e.g., “I”), and they use fewer words.

 

5. Which advice is more objective?

       To improve your chances of telling whether someone is lying, clear your mind and focus on the person’s aura.

 

        To improve your chances of telling whether someone is lying, don’t look at their face: Instead, listen to their words. 

 

6. Which advice is more useful?

       To improve your chances of telling whether someone is lying, clear your mind and focus on the person’s aura.

 

   To improve your chances of telling whether someone is lying, don’t look at their face: Instead, listen to their words. 

 

 

7. Which advice is more objective?

      Have a nice day.

 

   Tonight, write down three things you can be grateful for.

 

 

8. Which advice is more useful for helping you feel good today?

       Have a nice day.

 

   Tonight, write down three things you can be grateful for.

 

 

9. Which advice is more objective and more like an operational definition?

      Be yourself.

 

   Be early, turn your cell phone off, bring your resume, and ask the interviewer questions about the job.

 

 

10. Which advice is more useful for doing well in an interview?

       Be yourself.

 

        Be early, turn your cell phone off, bring your resume, and ask the interviewer questions about the job.

 

 

As you can see from the next three questions,  operational definitions help us make testable statements.

 

11. Which statement includes a solid operational definition and is testable?

       If you add good spices, they will love it.

        If you add a bay leaf and cumin, most of your guests will ask for seconds.

 

12. Which statement includes a solid operational definition and is testable?

       If you try your best, you will do well in the class.

 

        If you study two hours a day and take the practice quizzes, you will get at least an 80% on the final exam.

 

13. Which statement includes a solid operational definition and is testable?

 

       If we continue to average more than 4 yards on first down and we have fewer than two turnovers, we will win.

 

     If we maintain momentum and execute, we will win.

 

 

 

Practice Exercise

                        Go to http://www.craiglist.com and see

                                    1. Which gender is more objective in their personal ads?

                                    2. Are people more objective in describing what they want or who they are?


 

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