Joseph Nathan Cohen

Department of Sociology, CUNY Queens College, New York, NY

Types of Data to Collect in Social Research

A list of data types that you might collect in your social research project. This lesson was a carryover from my Marketing Research class at Temple University.

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Original Video Description

This video describes different types of data that you might consider collecting in your social research project.

Transcription (Auto-Generated)

You can collect a lot of different data about people, and while you’re designing your study, there might be some pieces of information that you never thought to acquire. In this video, I’ll give you a selection of different types of information that you can get from your respondents when you’re doing a research project. I’ll discuss seven types of data that you could collect about your respondents: demographic, psychographic, behavioral, knowledge, awareness, motivations, intentions, and physical. Demographic Data Probably the most popular form of data in social research is demographic data. In society, we have conventional ways of dividing up people by sex, race, income, levels of education, ages, birth cohorts, and other metrics. Demographic data is a shorthand for these conventional dividing lines or groupings that we use. Here are some examples: race, ethnicity, sex, heritage, sexual orientation, and geographic region. Psychographic Data A second less conventional type of data is psychographic data, which sorts people by their personality types. This data type is popular in marketing but is also used in social research. We often describe psychographics in terms of people’s activities, interests, and opinions (AIOs). Awareness Knowledge Data A third type of data is awareness and knowledge data. Awareness information deals with whether subjects have been exposed to certain information. Knowledge questions are concerned with people’s command of a particular set of information or skills. Motivations Another type of data is about motivations, which look for the deep psychological drivers behind our actions. Many social theories are premised on the idea that people are driven by specific needs or desires. For instance, psychologist Henry Murray outlined various potential motives, such as the need for acquisition, achievement, aggression, and avoidance, among others. Intentions Data Questions about intentions focus on what respondents think they will do in the future. However, there’s a discrepancy sometimes between what people intend to do and what they actually do. Behavioral Data Questions about behavior focus on what individuals do on a regular basis. They allow us to understand how people act in real life, rather than how they perceive or think they act. In conclusion, when conducting research, it’s crucial to consider collecting diverse types of data to gain a comprehensive understanding of your respondents and ensure the accuracy and relevance of your findings.