SOC 1 TR
19 September 2013
Research Methods in “Kinsey”
Set in 1948, Bill Condon’s “Kinsey” tells the story of a research scientist who is intent on learning about human sexual behavior. Professor Kinsey, otherwise known as Prok, starts off as a biologist, but soon ventures into the world of human sexuality. As he begins his quest to learn more about human sexual encounters, we are able to clearly identify the research methods that he uses to gain such information. Prok initially uses surveys and interviews, which then lead to snowball samples, and finally he observes his subjects.
As one of the most common tools of research, Prok uses surveys to accumulate an extensive knowledge of people’s sexual history. Prok and his team use these surveys in interviews as a means of getting information from their subjects. We see him use emotional and tactical strategies to get the interviewees to warm up to him, and eventually give more information than originally anticipated. The team continues to ask personal questions and carefully record the data that they collect. Many people are ecstatic to be part of such an intriguing study and want to share the experience with others.
Although sex is still a taboo subject during this era, many people are excited to get involved in Prok’s work. When a subject tells their friends about their part in the research, many of the friends also want to include themselves in the growing study. This results in what is called the snowball sample, when work is spread by word of mouth, and people volunteer themselves for the study. The snowball effect helps researchers immensely as they are able to collect more data from people than they thought possible. This particular research method assists in gaining an expansive background of information and helps Prok’s team of researchers find what is sexually ”normal”. While surveys and the snowball effect prove to be effective, Prok’s final method of observation is also extremely helpful in furthering his study.
Prok takes his last research method, observation, very seriously. Although the majority of his work is in the written data, he also gains an immense amount of information through the observation of sexual acts. This is an extremely helpful way of gathering information, as the researcher is able to identify aspects of the study with their own perspective. The team doesn’t have to rely on someone else’s accounts, and can come to their own conclusions regarding the research. This is a significant part of Prok’s research, as it allows him to gain deeper undestanding to the human anatomy.
While “Kinsey” may prove to be an explicit account of human’s sexual encounters, it also provides great insight to proper research methods. It is very helpful as a student to see surveys, snowball samples, and observation methods plainly laid out. And although Prok faced an abnormal amount of controversy, he ultimately reached the same goal that all scientists strive for with their research: to make an impact.