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Step 4: Propose a scheme for evaluating causal variables

  1. Theory 2
  2. Classificatory Theories
  3. Explanatory Theories
  4. Building A Classification Theory
  5. Building An Explanatory Theory
  6. Step 2: Identify causal factors
  7. Step 3: Trace interactions among variables
  8. Step 4: Propose a scheme for evaluating causal variables
  9. Adapting And Revising Theories

Step 4: Propose a scheme for evaluating causal variables

If we are to render our theory useful for judging bicultural people's selfidentities and in understanding the process through which those identities evolve, we need to establish a way to assess the status of the three life-condition variables and the four additional process variables.

To begin, we assume that each of those variables represents a scale and that a bicultural person's perceptions can be located at a particular place on each scale at any given time of life. In Figure 5-2 we diagram the first three scales and demonstrate how they may serve to display different individuals' perceptions of the three causal factors. We illustrate the use of the scales by showing how hypothetical information could be charted. For instance, we can show how, in the eyes of a bicultural boy,

  1. his mother's culture (Group A) is seen as more advantageous than his father's (Group B),
  2. his mother's relatives (Family A) treat him better than do his father's relatives (Family B), and
  3. nonfamily members of his father's culture (Cultural Group B) are more consistent in their treatment of him than are nonfamily members of his mother's culture (Cultural Group A), some of whom treat him well, some moderately well, and some rather badly.

We can create similar scales for displaying the additional variables: (a) the bicultural person's interpretation of how life conditions affect her or his welfare, (b) the individual's behavior as influenced by self-identity, (c) other people's reactions to such behavior, and (d) the individual's interpretation of such reactions.

Step 5 & 6: Devise and apply assessment methods

Finally, the task of rendering our operation by creating specific techniques for evaluating the variables and their interactions and applying those techniques to bicultural people's self-identity is a daunting assignment that we won't attempt here. Instead, we will simply note that a thesis or dissertation may either involve performing only the first three steps of the theory development process or consist of all five steps. The latter option is obviously the more difficult, but it produces more useful knowledge.

Explanatory Theory Resources

The following books illustrate explanatory theories in various academic fields.

Chafetz J. S. ( 1978). A Primer on the Construction and Testing of Theories in Sociology. Itasca, IL: Peacock.
Demaine J. ( 1981). Contemporary Theories in the Sociology of Education. London: Macmillan.
Hall C. S., Lindzey G., & Campbell J. B. ( 1998). Theories of Personality. New York: Wiley.
Hilgard E. R., & Bower G. ( 1981). Theories of Learning ( 5th ed). Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Miller P. H. ( 1993). Theories of Development Psychology ( 3rd ed). New York: Freeman.
Thomas R. M. ( 2000). Comparing Theories of Child Development ( 5th ed). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Thomas R. M. ( 1997). Moral Development Theories–Secular and Religious. Westport, CT: Greenwood.