Scientific Theories

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Advanced Research Methods in the Built Environment, 2008, 1, pp. 75 - 85
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The aim ofthis chapter is to look briefly at theories in general, before concentrating on scientific theories - how they are used, structured, tested and verified. The research that usesthe kind of scientific theories we are concentrating on is often referred to as quantitative research but for the sake of completeness, we will also discuss theories in the so-called qualitative research. Theories are an absolutely essential part of our daily life. They help us to make sense of the enormous mass of information and perceptions we are bombarded with every day. Theories help us to recognise, identify and classify things and events, to understand, explain, relate and to make predictions. They give us context and hierarchy. In short, theories combine to make up our understanding of the world. We have theories for all purposes, theories that say that 'if you heat up a metal rod, it will expand' or 'the time required to make a decision is in inverse proportion to the money involved' or 'the earth is flat' or that 'if you sin, God will punish you'
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