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Concepts play an important role in all theories.
Theories in their simples definition are all statements about reality
that seek to explain or predict the relation between phenomena.
For instance, the theory of gravity predicts that if I drop a pen, it will fall to the floor.
A specific predicted result, derived from theory, we call a hypothesis.
Whenever we visualise these statements this is called a model.
Usually the arrows and lines in these models represent hypotheses.
The box on the left in this model represents the presumed cause, dropping the pencil.
We call this the independent variable. The other is the presumed effect, or the dependent variable.
If we change our example and look at the theory that giving someone a gift
causes them to like you better.
Than the independent variable here is giftgiving.
and the dependent variable is how much you are being liked by someone.
So we can prove or disprove our hypotheses, and in extension the connected theory,
by actually dropping a pen or giving a gift
and check if the results correspond with the expected results.
In other words, we test and improve our theories with use of research.
This can be primary research, where we collect our own data.
Or by studying the results of others, so called secondary research.
We have several main means in our field to gather data.
The first is observation, simply observing the phenomenon.
Secondly we conduct experiments, where we try to limit to amount of interfering variables
so we can actually prove a causal relation between the dependent and independent variable.
We also use surveys, which is a questionnaire spread amongst a sample or respondents.
The results are usually quantified.
For a more in depth exploration of attitudes we conduct qualitative interviews.
Finally we study the message itself. This is called content analysis.
It can be done systematically, where the results are later quantified.
Or it can be done in a qualitative fashion.
Of course this is the ideal scientific situation. In reality many theories can't be tested.
For instance because we can not observe the presumed relation.
The theory that 'everything happens for a reason' might be true,
but we don't really have access to the methods to test this.
Sometimes a theory will combine a set of theories.
For instance The Uses and Gratification Theory:
which is a complex theory that we will discuss later in depth in this class.
The point for now is that it contains several ideas about reality.
First of all, people make conscious decisions regarding their use of media.
Secondly, people are conscious of their media- related needs.
Thirdly, people select the media that is best suited to fulfill their needs.
These are only a few elements of this theory, but my point is
that even though these different statements can be tested and proven independently,
they are still part of the same theoretical framework and therefore
collectively labeled as Uses and Gratification Theory.
So the definition of theory is not as easy as we first thought.
Some theories don't even predict anything but serve more as perspectives on reality
or to sum up an approach.
They tell us it is important to study some aspects of that reality more thoroughly.
For instance 'stakeholder theory' tells us we should study the stakeholders in any situation
and be aware of their various interests and agendas.
These perspectives are sometimes called theory,
but we also use the words paradigms or approaches,
since they don't really fit the dominant definition of scientific theory.
That definition stresses that theories have predictive value.
And these paradigms or approaches serve more as view glasses,
which we use to study the world.
They amplify some aspects of reality and guide our research.
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1.4 Theories

366 Folder Collection
羅紹桀 published on March 18, 2016
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