Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My Very Own Research

Yesterday I had a really productive meeting with my committee chair about my thesis. This whole time I've been taking this approach that is pretty consistent with the literature, and trying to look at sexual harassment using written scenarios and then asking participants their thoughts on whether or not the scenario constitutes sexual harassment. This approach is what is being done in the research, but it's also incredibly boring, even more so given that the only reason I've considered studying sexual harassment is because it's one of my professor's interests, and not my own.

Well in the meeting last night, I was giving him some of my ideas about how I wanted to look at things and he ended up asking about behavioral studies looking at sexual harassment, in other words, creating real life scenarios of harassment and then observing behavioral responses. I immediately lit up. I had thought about that approach, but shied away from it because I thought it would be too difficult to carry out logistically, and then also to get that kind of thing approved by the Institutional Review Board at BYU. With that suggestion, I feel like I have new life breathed into me and I have so much more motivation to try and tackle this thesis.

I need to develop an idea and research question, but the basics are this: my interest within sexual harassment is same sex sexual harassment. I'll need to look at more specifically what it is that men find harassing, and what women find harassing, and then try and target those differences and see how that is revealed behaviorally. There are things that guys can do to other guys that would be sexually harassing, but from a women doing the exact same thing, it would probably be flattering.

If you have any ideas about how to carry this out and what things to observe for behaviorally that would manifest a person's inner feelings, I'd love to hear it.

Also, with the dating survey I'm really excited to pursue that topic and see the breakdown on all of the different groups. In less than a week we got over 400 responses just between the three of us asking friends and acquaintances. At church and my ward activity on Saturday, I probably had a dozen or so people approach me about the survey, and through the Facebook messages I sent out, about ten people responded wanting to know how it all turns out. I love the interest it's gotten from everyone, and I think the findings will be really fun to work out.

I'm hoping that this initial survey can serve as a springboard into doing qualitative interviews with people, particularly those over 25, and learn more about their dating experiences in more detail.

What's really fun about all of this is that it reminds me how much I enjoy all this analysis and trying to understand people. Sometimes I still feel inclined toward applying to counseling/clinical psychology programs once I'm done with my thesis, but this research stuff also can be really fun. My friends in the other therapy-based programs insist that I have a great temperament for the practice. I don't know, but it's at least fun having viable interests that can hopefully earn me some scratch while keeping me at least somewhat intrigued.

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