Significance of the Chosen Topic for Social Scientific Analysis
The main research question for the present social scientific analysis sounds as the following: Does the birth order of a child impact on child’s personality and behavior?
At the outset, well known factors that cause or shape personality include the family. Hartshorne (2010) explicates that the common belief that the family setting is significant in shaping our personality so much that our IQ is almost dependent on the family as a socialization agent is true.
As such, there is the growing need to understand whether birth order that is an aspect of the family comes any close in shaping one’s behavioral characteristics and ultimately the personality. Birth order refers to the birth position one’s hold amongst siblings. The first born, second born, last born are various birth orders, which would be imperative in the resolution of the current impasse that surrounds the topic.
Understanding the impact of birth order on personality provides a platform where parents may understand the behaviors of their children in a better way (Herrera, Zajonc, Wieczorkowska, & Cichomski, 2003). Besides, the parents may comprehend the potential abilities of the children as well as the behaviors that are typical of a specific birth order.
Presentation of Three Research Problems
With regard to the presented questions, three research problems have been identified that can contribute to addressing the main question effectively:
Which tools should be used to assess the relation between birth order and family size?
Which methods can be used to measure personality development with regard to child’s position in a family?
Are there any scientific theories that can be applied to define the relations between child’s position and his/her character traits?
All these questions combined can provide an extensive and systematic overview of the main research questions and justify the fact of direct connection between birth order and child position.
Rationale for the Social Scientific Analysis Applied to Each of Three Research Problems
In order to provide answers to the above-identified questions, it is imperative to apply to a mixed method approach based on qualitative and quantitative analysis of the obtained data. Specifically, the first question can be answered with the implementation of statistical analysis of the sample population to define the family size of each family that will participate into the interviews.
Statistical data will refer to the number of children of the same age in connection with the number of family with an identical size. The data analysis will allow to define whether children of similar age take different birth order position in the family.
It will also contribute to drawing the correlation between age of children and their psychological characteristics at this age with regard to family position. For example, it will help to answer the question about the similarities and differences in character traits with regard to age and position. To answer the second questions, observational method should be used.
Hence, interviews with children and parents can help to define the attitudes and behaviors of children with regard to the role they perform in their families. Finally, in order to answer the third question, a peer-reviewed research should be conducted to compare the interview results with the existing researches in the field.
The application of mixed methods is justified studying human behavior from a qualitative perspective provides insufficient outlook on certain phenomenon and objects. For example, ignorance of quantitative methods can lead to inaccuracy of percentage calculation, which will definitely provide ambiguity to the interview results. It will be impossible to transcribe interviews without introducing statistical data and correlating it with qualitative results.
Analyzing the Extent to Which the Chosen Topic Question Can Be Examined by Applying the Scientific Method
According to the Howe (2011), the choice of mixed method analysis of the research question is completely justified, despite the assumption that natural sciences are more associated with quantitative research methods whereas social sciences are more attained to qualitative methods to study human behavior.
A closer look at natural sciences reveals that both quantitative and qualitative methods can equally contribute to the scientific research. Much more evidence is found concerning the use of quantitative methods for exploring natural sciences.
This method is traditionally considered as the basic one for investigating different statistical information in such disciplines as biology, chemistry, or mathematics. This conventional outlook on the methodologies distribution is represented by a positivist movement (Howe, 2011). Despite this stereotype, recent researches have argued the applicability of qualitative methods and mixed methods to natural sciences.
At this point, distinction between qualitative and quantitative methods chosen for analyzing physical and natural sciences can prevent a study from meeting validity and reliability standards. Nevertheless, a priority is still given to a quantitative analysis, when it comes to natural sciences.
Comparative Analysis of the Research Methods Required For the Formulated Question and the Scientific Methods in the Context of the Natural or Physical Sciences
Though natural sciences can apply to mixed research methods, they still apply to different theoretical frameworks and stages of research analysis. At this point, use of different methods is not the factor that differentiates natural and scientific methods. In fact, both natural and social discipline can imply the use of mixed approaches, but the different will lie in the goals and interests pursued by scientists.
For instance, a natural scientist is more concerned with the natural events, as well as how they can be analyzed with regard to the abstract knowledge whereas a social scientist is interested in theoretical generalizations and frameworks that would contribute to analyzing human behavior. Hence, they want ascribe human actions to theoretical perspectives.
Regarding the formulated questions, analysis of interview questions combined with statistical and demographic data, as well as review of related literature can presents a new theoretical perspective for studying the role birth as a factor shaping personality traits. The mixed research applied to natural studies, the focus will be made on how theories can explain a specific natural phenomenon.
Discussing Whether a Social Science Perspective Must Rely on the Scientific Method in the Same Way That Natural and Physical Science Would
Due to the identified stages of exploring the research questions, it will first start with gathering quantitative data that will later be processed in combination with qualitative data.
As a result, the quantitative study will serve as a framework for building concepts and developing qualitative studies. Such an approach, however, will not provide consistent findings when applied to natural and physical sciences because it is impossible to analyze statistical data first with no reference to qualitative phenomenon.
Therefore, mixed approach can only be applied to natural sciences in a very narrow context and for specific purposes because natural sciences are more subjected to causality. So, absence of sequence can prevent from delivering accurate results. In contrast, human scientist should rely solely on rational chain of causalities and, therefore, more emphasis on the qualitative data analysis should be placed.
Hartshorne, J. (2010, Jan. 11) How Birth affects Your Personality. Scientific American, 45 (3): 1-2.
Herrera, N. C., Zajonc, R. B., Wieczorkowska, G., & Cichomski, B. (2003). Beliefs about birth rank and their reflection in reality. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 85 (1): 142-150.
Howe, K. R. (2011). Mixed Methods, Mixed Causes? Qualitative Inquiry. 17(2), pp. 166-171.