Using Content Analysis to Collect Social Research Data

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  • 0:05 Content Analysis Defined
  • 0:41 How To
  • 2:02 Collecting Content
  • 2:49 Social Research
  • 3:33 Lesson Summary?
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Devin Kowalczyk

Devin has taught psychology and has a master's degree in clinical forensic psychology. He is working on his PhD.

This lesson explores what content analysis is and how a researcher can use this technique to explore and collect social data. An explanation of how to use this technique to explore the psychology of other times is also explored.

Content Analysis Defined

Content analysis is a technique to describe the quantity and content of a media. Definitions aren't always as helpful as they should be, especially without context. Content analysis is a type of research that focuses on the content and features in different forms of media. A researcher using content analysis may look at:

  • Word choice
  • Phrases
  • Unique or distinguished sentences
  • Concepts
  • Themes
  • Characters

How To

Content analysis is done in a series of steps. First, whatever is being analyzed is broken down and coded into categories by word choice, phrases, etc. As an example, let's say we're curious about how much a textbook references pain and pain management in an alternative medicine book.

Next, the researcher examines the content to see if there are conceptual or relational qualities. Content qualities is recording how often a concept, such as a word, phrase, or theme, occurs in a text. Relational qualities is exploring the relationship between the concepts. In the example, we are curious as to how much content is involved with pain and pain management. So, we create a chart of phrases that deal with pain, such as suffering and distress, and then count how often these terms occur.

Lastly, with these, a researcher can make inferences about the message of the writer, what was intended to be heard by the audience, and can develop an understanding of the time and culture of what was happening. Our example looks into pain and pain management, and we can now draw an inference about the field of alternative medicine and their emphasis on pain.

Collecting Content

There is more to psychology than testing rats and people's personalities. History isn't some dried up and forgotten subject relegated to the musty building at the back of the campus. History and psychology mix together to help us understand worlds that are entirely cut off from us. A researcher can take a text, speech, television program, movie script, or anything else where something was written and examine it. For instance:

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