Variables in Research Methodology

Research of a socio legal phenomena does not occur in vacuum. It occurs in a given situation. Things are being influenced by several factors and they are shaped and reshaped and evoked and emitted. Stimulous-response-subject all a will have a flux of interaction. Each one varies based upon the given situation. Height, weight, income etc., all vary. A variable, thus, is one that varies.

Variables in Research Methodology

According to Edwards, “ a variable is any thing that we can observe. Any particular observation is called a value of the variable.” Kerlinger observes that a variable is a property that takes on different values and is a symbol for which numerals or values are assigned. The variables are referred as under.

Dependent variable and independent variable:

for eg. If it is stated that height changes with age, the height is dependent upon age. Thus height is dependent variable, varies based upon age and height is independent variable.  Dependent variable is a response variable and independent variable is stimulus variable.  In establishing causal relationship, y=f(x), one variable is dependent variable and the other is independent variable.

Continuous and discreet variables:

A continuous variable is that which can assume any numerical value within a specific range is called continuous variable. Time is continuous variable, age is continuous variable. It is also defined as a quantitative variable which can be measured with an arbitrary degree of fitness.(D’Amato).

It is a phenomena which can take quantitatively different values even in decimal points are called continuous variable. A discreet variable is a variable for which the individual values fall on the scale only with distinct gaps.  The variables that can only be expressed in integer values are called discreet variables.  For ex: number of males and females  or family sizes. They can not  be expressed as 10.5, 9.5 and the like in fractions.

Qualitative variable and quantitative variable:

A variable whose value can not be measured in respect of their magnitude is called qualitative variable. For ex: sex, religious affiliation etc.  They are also known as categorized variables.  A quantitative variable is one that can be measured based upon the magnitude. For Ex; wages, age, temperature etc.

Stimulus-subject-response variables:

A variable that influence the behaviour of the subject matter is called stimulus variable. The situational variables that cause such change in the subject matter is also termed as stimulus variable.  The subject variable is the phenomena or organism whose behaviour is under observation is subject variable.

The subject matter will have certain inherent attributes, direct or indirect; latent or patent. Stimulus variable tries to cause by manipulation of the investigator a change to get desired values.  Response variable is the behaviour of that subject which is under observation.