Measuring Disorder: Observer Bias in Systematic Social Observations at Streets and Neighborhoods

Measuring Disorder: Observer Bias in Systematic Social Observations at Streets and Neighborhoods Objectives The present study focuses on Systematic Social Observation (SSO) as a method to investigate physical and social disorder at different units of analysis. The study contributes to the aggregation bias debate and to the ‘social science of ecological assessment’ in two ways: first, by presenting a new model that directly controls for observer bias in ecological constructs and second, by attempting to identify systematic sources of bias in SSO that affect the valid and reliable measurement of physical and social disorder at both street segments and neighborhoods. Methods Data on physical disorder (e.g., litter, cigarette butts) and social disorder (e.g., loitering adults) from 1422 street segments in 253 different neighborhoods in a conurbation of the greater The Hague area (the Netherlands) are analyzed using cross-classified mul- tilevel models. Results Neighborhood differences in disorder are overestimated when scholars fail to recognize the cross-classified data structure of an SSO study that is due to allocation of street segments to observers and neighborhoods. Not correcting for observer bias and Disclaimer This research was funded out of independent resources and has no actual or potential conflict of interest including any financial personal or other relationships with other people of organizations. Electronic supplementary http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Quantitative Criminology Springer Journals

Measuring Disorder: Observer Bias in Systematic Social Observations at Streets and Neighborhoods

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Publisher
Springer US
Copyright
Copyright © 2016 by The Author(s)
Subject
Criminology and Criminal Justice; Criminology and Criminal Justice, general; Sociology, general; Methodology of the Social Sciences; Statistics, general
ISSN
0748-4518
eISSN
1573-7799
D.O.I.
10.1007/s10940-016-9333-6
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Objectives The present study focuses on Systematic Social Observation (SSO) as a method to investigate physical and social disorder at different units of analysis. The study contributes to the aggregation bias debate and to the ‘social science of ecological assessment’ in two ways: first, by presenting a new model that directly controls for observer bias in ecological constructs and second, by attempting to identify systematic sources of bias in SSO that affect the valid and reliable measurement of physical and social disorder at both street segments and neighborhoods. Methods Data on physical disorder (e.g., litter, cigarette butts) and social disorder (e.g., loitering adults) from 1422 street segments in 253 different neighborhoods in a conurbation of the greater The Hague area (the Netherlands) are analyzed using cross-classified mul- tilevel models. Results Neighborhood differences in disorder are overestimated when scholars fail to recognize the cross-classified data structure of an SSO study that is due to allocation of street segments to observers and neighborhoods. Not correcting for observer bias and Disclaimer This research was funded out of independent resources and has no actual or potential conflict of interest including any financial personal or other relationships with other people of organizations. Electronic supplementary

Journal

Journal of Quantitative CriminologySpringer Journals

Published: Dec 20, 2016

References

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