Exercise 1 – Starting with who you are

SSC300 – Exercise 1 DRAFT – Twenty Statements Test
Revised to match WordPress exercise 7/13

In this first exercise, I would like for you to participate in a little research experiment. Please read and follow the directions carefully in this exercise…

Step 1: Take out a sheet of paper.  Write at the top of the sheet, “Who Am I?”  Now answer this question – Who Am I? – twenty times on your sheet of paper.

Just give twenty different answers to this question; answer as if you were giving the answers to yourself- not someone else. In other words, be as candid and honest as possible. Write your answers in the order that they occur to you. Don’t worry about logic or importance.



The TST is a long-standing psychological and social psychological “test” for use in regards to one’s “sense of self.” In particular, it helps identify those self-designations which may be due more to our “roles” than who we really are or could be.

One way of becoming more self-aware is to notice the words you use to describe yourself. Some important facts about our “public selves” are revealed on the official forms we fill out, when we give our name, age, birthplace, marital status, etc. Other, more subtle aspects of our self-images are revealed in the way we introduce ourselves, or the things we choose to reveal in the first few minutes of a new acquaintance. In effect, the answers you just jotted down in response to the question “Who Am I?” provide an outline for an autobiography and give some insights about your self-image.


The list of answers to the question “Who Am I?” probably include examples of each of the following four types of responses:

  1. PD: Physical Description: I’m tall, have blue eyes…etc.
  2. SR: Social Roles: We are all social beings whose behavior is shaped to some extent by the roles we play. Such roles as student, housewife, or member of the football team not only help others to recognize us but also help us to know what is expected of us in various situations.
  3. PT: Personal Traits: These are a third dimension of our self-descriptions. “I’m impulsive…I’m generous…I tend to worry a lot”…etc.
  4. ES: Existential Statements (abstract ones): These can range from “I’m a child of the universe” to “I’m a human being” to “I’m a spiritual     being”…etc.

Here’s what I want you to do. Beside each item on your list, I want you to mark whether the item is a PD, SR, PT, or ES. Only count them under one category, whichever you feel best fits.


Let’s think about what we have done so far… I’ve asked you to make a list of characteristics about yourself. To the social scientist this is data that can be analyzed in a systematic process. You have already started that process by interpreting the data and coding the statements. In this case, we will convert this qualitative data into numbers (quantitative data) by tallying your responses and adding them to those of your classmates.

Please click on this link to do so.


Hypothesis Testing
So, what can we do with this data that would meaningful to a social researcher? Well, we can pose and test a number of hypotheses based on social theory. Let’s start with an easy one. Based on a general understanding of gender and society, we know that women traditionally have been more likely than men to define their concept of self in their relationships with other people. According to a 1974 study, women had more social role statements on their twenty statements test than men. We also know that society has changed dramatically since the early 1970s and women’s’ roles and positions in society have undergone major shifts in the past few decades. Let’s test whether women still define themselves in terms of social roles more than men.

First off, we’ve essentially posed a research question: Do women define themselves in terms of social roles more than men? Next we need to restate this in as a testable hypothesis:

Hypothesis 1 (also written as H1): Females will have more Social Roles (SRs) listed than males on the TST.

Now how will we test this?  Think about the data you entered in our short survey.  How would you use this to prove or disprove our hypothesis?

[CODER: Insert text field with submit button to record the users response]

[on submit reveal: ]
Great!  Let’s go through how I would test this hypothesis, and you can compare your own strategy with my method.


There are several approaches we could take. We could tally the data from the class and see the total number of SRs from men vs. women. But we would need to account for different numbers of men and women in the class. We would need to divide by the number of men and thus create an average.

Imagine we have a total of 32 SRs from 12 men and 114 SRs from 38 women… would this data disprove our hypothesis?

[CODER: Insert text field with submit button to record the users response]

[on submit reveal: ]
So, 32/12 = 2.67 SRs on average for the men and 114/38 = 3.0 SRs for women. Thus we have found support that females have more Social Roles (SRs) listed than males on the TST.

You can go to this page to see the results of the 20 statements test for this class.  The charts on the page will update as your classmates submit their surveys.  I’ll send out a reminder to visit this page again when all the surveys are in, and we can see if the hypothesis is supported or not.

Note: We have assumed for the purposes of this exercise that the best way to measure gender is two separate categories – male and female.  You’ve probably answered this male/female question on countless forms and surveys.  However, many social scientists think of gender more as a continuum than two discrete categories.  Think about the range of people you know – they are probably quite different in how they understand and perform being “male” or “female”.

This shows one key lesson we’ll cover in this course – how we measure a concept like gender should be directly linked to how we think about (or theorize) that concept.  There are different possible ways to measure gender, each that capture something different about how we experience gender in our lives.  In your own project, you should strive to match how you think about a concept with the questions you ask people to measure that concept.

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