Counter-Intuitive Research Findings

It is quite common for social science researchers to discover results that not only contradict their hypothesis, but are also substantively counter-intuitive.  For instance, it is assumed that acquiring energy efficient appliances will lead to reduced energy consumption, but a recent study by Adua et al. (2016) suggests that may not always be the case. Their study, for example, shows that households with central heating and cooling systems equipped with programmable thermostats, consumed significantly more energy than households with heating systems not equipped with programmable thermostats.  Programmable thermostats are considered as useful tools for managing (minimizing) residential energy consumption. Also, studies of several California communities show that communities that enacted growth control policies (in attempt to stem urban sprawl) actually experienced more growth than communities of similar characteristics that did not enact growth restrictions.  Now, put on your thinking caps, for you will need it, and answer the following questions.

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Part 1

  1. Why do you think social science researchers sometimes find such counter-intuitive results, that is, results that defy common sense and expectations? Is it something about the nature of society and people? Feel free to tie your response tightly to the examples given above. So, you might decide to consider why efficient appliances may sometimes lead to more energy consumption and not less.  Also, feel free to use examples from outside the class. Answering this question may require that you conduct some research? (100 words)
  2. Should researchers be obligated to report results that not only contradict their hypothesis, but defy logic and common sense? In other words, is it proper for researchers to simply shelve such aberrational results and move onto something else? (100 words)


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