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Ex post facto research Introduction When translated literally, ex post facto means ‘from what is done afterwards’.

In the context of social and educational research the phrase means ‘after the fact’ or ‘retrospectively’ and refers to those studies which investigate possible cause-and-effect relationships by observing an existing condition or state of affairs and searching back in time for plausible causal factors. In effect, researchers ask themselves what factors seem to be associated with certain occurrences, or conditions, or aspects of behaviour. Ex post facto research, then, is a method of teasing out possible antecedents of events that have happened and cannot, therefore, be engineered or manipulated by the investigator. The following example will illustrate the basic idea. Imagine a situation in which there has been a dramatic increase in the number of fatal road accidents in a particular locality. An expert is called in to investigate. Naturally, there is no way in which she can study the actual accidents because they have happened; nor can she turn to technology for a video replay of the incidents. What she can do, however, is attempt a reconstruction by studying the statistics, examining the accident spots, and taking note of the statements given by victims and witnesses. In this way the expert will be in a position to identify possible determinants of the accidents. These may include excessive speed, poor road conditions, careless driving, frustration, inefficient vehicles, the effects of drugs or alcohol and so on. On the basis of her examination, she can formulate hypotheses as to the likely causes and submit them to the appropriate authority in the form of recommendations. These may include improving road conditions, or lowering the speed limit, or increasing police surveillance, for instance. The point of interest to us is that in identifying the causes retrospectively, the expert adopts an ex post facto perspective. Kerlinger (1970) has defined ex post facto research more formally as that in which the independent variable or variables have already occurred and in which the researcher starts with the observation of a dependent variable or variables. She then studies the independent variable or variables in retrospect for their possible relationship to, and effects on, the dependent variable or variables. The researcher is thus examining retrospectively the effects of a naturally occurring event on a subsequent outcome with a view to establishing a causal link between them. Interestingly, some instances of ex post facto designs correspond to experimental research in reverse, for instead of taking groups that are equivalent and subjecting them to different treatments so as to bring about differences in the dependent variables to be measured, an ex post facto experiment begins with groups that are already different in some respect and searches in retrospect for the factor that brought about the difference. Indeed Spector (1993:42) suggests that ex post facto research is a procedure that is intended to transform a non-experimental research design into a pseudo-experimental form. Two kinds of design may be identified in ex post facto research—the co-relational study and the criterion group study. The former is sometimes termed ‘causal research’ and the latter, ‘causalcomparative research’. A co-relational whilst

Correlational Study Definition

however. (2004). 24. W. (1992: 81) refers to the following procedures when conducting ex post factoresearch: The. 503515. S. The connectedness to nature scale: A measure of individuals' feeling in community with nature. The term ex post facto according to Landman (1988: 62) is used to refer to an experiment in which the researcher. F. one is the cause and the other is the effect. & Frantz. be pointed out that the most serious danger of ex post facto-research is the conclusion that because two factors go together. C. H. Ex post facto-research Experimental research. References Decker. rather than creating the treatment. Two groups of the population that differ with regard to the variable. whilst the dependable variable are controlled with the aim of establishing the effect of the independent variable on the dependable variable. Mayer. 225-232.Following this is the determination of the group to be investigated. Managerial humor and subordinate satisfaction. It should.A correlational study is a scientific study in which a researcher investigates associations between variables. where the researcher manipulates the independent variable. examines the effect of a naturally occurring treatment after it has occurred. is also applicable. . 15. first step should be to state the problem. (1987). should be selected in a proportional manner for the test sample. Journal of Environmental Psychology. . Social Behavior and Personality. In other words it is a study that attempts to discover the pre-existing causal conditions between groups. M. Jacobs et al..

. there are treatment and control groups. but the effect has already occurred as the researcher begins the study.Next follows the interpretation of the research results. are set equal by means of paring off and statistical techniques of identified independent and dependent variables. Ex Post Facto (CausalComparative) Research • Explores possible causes and effects • The independent variable is not manipulated. according to variables. The hypothesis is either confirmed or rejected. literature search etc:. The effect of the differing condition on some other variable can then be assessed.Groups. after the fact answers about what happened to the measured variable Characteristics of Ex Post Facto Research • There is a control or comparison group • Intact groups are used • The treatment is not manipulated. it has already occurred.Data is collected. interviews. Ex Post facto research is used to study groups that are similar and have had the same experience except for one condition. Techniques like questionnaires. it has already been applied • Focuses first on the effect. Thus. Because there is no . and that only partial control is possible. then attempts to determine what caused the observed effect. . Ex Post facto Research .and effect relationships from the results (Latin for after the fact).A lot of research investigates events that have already occurred and implies cause . are used to determine the differences. Lastly it should be mentioned that this type of research has shortcomings. .

one must be very careful regarding the conclusions that are drawn about any observed relationship. Causal Comparative or Ex Post Facto Research Design . “what is the effect of part-time work on school achievement of high school students?” one would use the ex post facto method. or 2. The variables in this type of research differ in kind rather than in amount. For example. which has already occurred in the natural course of events.Maternity Satisfaction with their Hospital Stay Ex-post Facto Research question: Does learning English in elementary school affect the university students’ speaking ability? Design: There is no randomization here. the “treatment” already happened in the past and you can no longer do anything about it. Causal-comparative research or ex post facto research is used to determine the cause or reason for existing differences in the behavior in a group. The basic design involves selecting two groups differing on some independent variable and comparing them on some dependent variable. to answer the question. Because there is no manipulation or control of the independent variable. The researcher simply compares groups differing on the preexisting independent variable to determine any relationship to the dependent variable. causative conclusions that can be drawn from this type of research are tentative at best. we refer to these as categorical variables. it is unethical to give a treatment to the ex-post facto group. Ex post facto research a type of research that begins with data already collected. instead the researcher would identify students who already work part-time compare their achievement with that of students who do not . The researcher would not manipulate the lives of high school students by having some take parttime jobs and others not. Later. or research technologies applied to events not originally intended for reseach purposes. You select the subjects on the basis of a certain existing condition.active manipulation of conditions nor is there random assignment of subjects to groups. The ex post facto is similar to an experiment. except the researcher does not manipulate the independent variable. You do not give treatment to any group because: 1.

work. Because researchers lack control over many factors. they must be especially careful in interpreting the results of ex post facto investigations. . They do not establish a simple causal relationship among the variables of a study.