Lostletter Techniqueeffect

This technique was introduced by the American social psychologist Stanley Milgram (1933-1984) and his colleagues as an "unobtrusive measure" [i.e., an indirect method for collecting data without the conscious awareness or cooperation of the research participants, and includes a number of techniques popularized by the American psychologist Eugene J. Webb (1933- ) and several coauthors in the 1960s, even though the original notion of the technique is traceable to the work of the English natural scientist Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911) in the 1870s] of attitudes whereby stamped, addressed envelopes (cf., postcards) are scattered in various public places (as if left by accident). The proportion of the envelopes that are posted/returned to the envelope addresses by individuals of the public are taken as providing a rough index of attitudes in the community. For instance, if half of the envelopes are addressed to a "prostem cell research" organization and half to an "anti-stem cell research" organization, and if equal numbers of each type of envelope are distributed, but more of the "pro-stem cell research" envelopes are returned, then it may be concluded, tentatively, that members of the community are more favorably disposed to wards the "pro-stem cell research" than the "anti-stem cell research" cause. This returned envelope effect, although only an indirect measure of public attitudes, possesses the salient feature or criterion of generality in that the technique may be employed in a number of different physical locations (cf., the similar "lost email technique"), and has been used for assessing a wide range of different social, psychological, and economic issues (e.g., gay/lesbian marriage; battered/abused women; abortion; small-town versus large-city living; religious beliefs; impeachment/election of presidents; violence/aggression in public settings; evolution theory versus creationism; oil-drilling and environmental issues; alcohol issues; altruism; personality deviance; prejudices; interracial marriage; sex education in the schools; and international attitudes towards America). See also ATTITUDE/ATTITUDE CHANGE, THEORIES OF. REFERENCES

The lost-letter technique. Public Opinion Quarterly, 29, 437-438. Webb, E. J., Campbell, D. T., Schwartz, R. C., & Sechrest, L. (1966). Unobtrusive measures: Nonreactive research in the social sciences. Chicago: Rand-McNally.

Milgram, S. (1977). The individual in a social world. Reading, MA: Addison-Wes-ley.

Stern, S. E., & Faber, J. E. (1997). The lost email method: Milgram's lost-letter technique in the age of the internet. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, and Computers, 29, 260-263.

LOTKA/LOTKA-PRICE LAW. This law was developed originally by Alfred J. Lotka (1880-1949), who was a demographer for the New York Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in the 1920s. Lotka's law states that the number of scientists publishing n papers is roughly proportional to n-squared where the constant of proportionality varies with the discipline. This law is somewhat similar to the Italian sociologist/economist Vilfredo Pareto's (1848-1923) law of income distribution in economics. The English-born American "father of scientometrics/bibliometrics" Derek de

Solla Price (1922-1983) subsequently refined Lotka's law, which now states that half of all scientific publications are made by the square root of the total number of scientific contributors. The Lotka-Price law of historiometry indicates the inequality of scientific productivity, and is depicted as highly skewed, hyperbolic-shaped distributions of creative output. See also EMINENCE, THEORIES/ MEASURES OF; EPONYMY THEORY; PER-SONALISTIC THEORY OF HISTORY; STIGLER'S LAW OF EPONYMY. REFERENCES

Lotka, A. (1926). The frequency distribution of scientific productivity. Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences, 16, 317-323. Price, D. (1963/1986). Little science, big science... and beyond. New York: Columbia University Press. Price, D. (1976). A general theory of bibli-ometric and other cumulative advantage processes. Journal of the American Society of Information Sciences, 27, 292-306. Furnham, A., & Bonnett, C. (1992). British research productivity in psychology 1980-1989. Does the Lotka-Price law apply to university departments as it does to individuals? Personality and Individual Differences, 13, 1333-1341.

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