Talk Is Cheap
Colin Jerolmack () and
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Colin Jerolmack: New York University, New York, NY, USA
Shamus Khan: Department of Sociology, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
Sociological Methods & Research, 2014, vol. 43, issue 2, pages 178-209
This article examines the methodological implications of the fact that what people say is often a poor predictor of what they do. We argue that many interview and survey researchers routinely conflate self-reports with behavior and assume a consistency between attitudes and action. We call this erroneous inference of situated behavior from verbal accounts the attitudinal fallacy. Though interviewing and ethnography are often lumped together as â€œqualitative methods,â€ by juxtaposing studies of â€œculture in actionâ€ based on verbal accounts with ethnographic investigations, we show that the latter routinely attempts to explain the â€œattitudeâ€“behavior problemâ€ while the former regularly ignores it. Because meaning and action are collectively negotiated and context-dependent, we contend that self-reports of attitudes and behaviors are of limited value in explaining what people actually do because they are overly individualistic and abstracted from lived experience.
Keywords: ethnography; methods; attitudinal fallacy; culture; interaction (search for similar items in EconPapers)
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Persistent link: http://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:sae:somere:v:43:y:2014:i:2:p:178-209
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