Skip to main content
Top
Published in:

07-01-2019 | Original Research

Do Not Cross Me: Optimizing the Use of Cross-Sectional Designs

Author: Paul E. Spector

Published in: Journal of Business and Psychology | Issue 2/2019

Log in

Activate our intelligent search to find suitable subject content or patents.

search-config
loading …

Abstract

The cross-sectional research design, especially when used with self-report surveys, is held in low esteem despite its widespread use. It is generally accepted that the longitudinal design offers considerable advantages and should be preferred due to its ability to shed light on causal connections. In this paper, I will argue that the ability of the longitudinal design to reflect causality has been overstated and that it offers limited advantages over the cross-sectional design in most cases in which it is used. The nature of causal inference from a philosophy of science perspective is used to illustrate how cross-sectional designs can provide evidence for relationships among variables and can be used to rule out many potential alternative explanations for those relationships. Strategies for optimizing the use of cross-sectional designs are noted, including the inclusion of control variables to rule out spurious relationships, the addition of alternative sources of data, and the incorporation of experimental methods. Best practice advice is offered for the use of both cross-sectional and longitudinal designs, as well as for authors writing and for reviewers evaluating papers that report results of cross-sectional studies.

Dont have a licence yet? Then find out more about our products and how to get one now:

Springer Professional "Wirtschaft+Technik"

Online-Abonnement

Mit Springer Professional "Wirtschaft+Technik" erhalten Sie Zugriff auf:

  • über 102.000 Bücher
  • über 537 Zeitschriften

aus folgenden Fachgebieten:

  • Automobil + Motoren
  • Bauwesen + Immobilien
  • Business IT + Informatik
  • Elektrotechnik + Elektronik
  • Energie + Nachhaltigkeit
  • Finance + Banking
  • Management + Führung
  • Marketing + Vertrieb
  • Maschinenbau + Werkstoffe
  • Versicherung + Risiko

Jetzt Wissensvorsprung sichern!

Springer Professional "Wirtschaft"

Online-Abonnement

Mit Springer Professional "Wirtschaft" erhalten Sie Zugriff auf:

  • über 67.000 Bücher
  • über 340 Zeitschriften

aus folgenden Fachgebieten:

  • Bauwesen + Immobilien
  • Business IT + Informatik
  • Finance + Banking
  • Management + Führung
  • Marketing + Vertrieb
  • Versicherung + Risiko




Jetzt Wissensvorsprung sichern!

Literature
go back to reference Brief, A. P., Burke, M. J., George, J. M., Robinson, B. S., & Webster, J. (1988). Should negative affectivity remain an unmeasured variable in the study of job stress? Journal of Applied Psychology, 73(2), 193–198.CrossRefPubMed Brief, A. P., Burke, M. J., George, J. M., Robinson, B. S., & Webster, J. (1988). Should negative affectivity remain an unmeasured variable in the study of job stress? Journal of Applied Psychology, 73(2), 193–198.CrossRefPubMed
go back to reference Frese, M., & Zapf, D. (1988). Methodological issues in the study of work stress: Objective vs subjective measurement of work stress and the question of longitudinal studies. In C. L. Cooper & R. Payne (Eds.), Causes, coping and consequences of stress at work (pp. 375–411). Oxford, England: John Wiley & Sons. Frese, M., & Zapf, D. (1988). Methodological issues in the study of work stress: Objective vs subjective measurement of work stress and the question of longitudinal studies. In C. L. Cooper & R. Payne (Eds.), Causes, coping and consequences of stress at work (pp. 375–411). Oxford, England: John Wiley & Sons.
go back to reference Glick, W. H., Huber, G. P., Miller, C. C., Doty, D. H., & Sutcliffe, K. M. (1990). Studying changes in organizational design and effectiveness: Retrospective event histories and periodic assessments. Organization Science, 1(3), 293–312. https://doi.org/10.2307/2635007.CrossRef Glick, W. H., Huber, G. P., Miller, C. C., Doty, D. H., & Sutcliffe, K. M. (1990). Studying changes in organizational design and effectiveness: Retrospective event histories and periodic assessments. Organization Science, 1(3), 293–312. https://​doi.​org/​10.​2307/​2635007.CrossRef
go back to reference Glick, W. H., Jenkins, G., & Gupta, N. (1986). Method versus substance: How strong are underlying relationships between job characteristics and attitudinal outcomes? Academy of Management Journal, 29(3), 441–464.CrossRef Glick, W. H., Jenkins, G., & Gupta, N. (1986). Method versus substance: How strong are underlying relationships between job characteristics and attitudinal outcomes? Academy of Management Journal, 29(3), 441–464.CrossRef
go back to reference Illari, P., & Russo, F. (2014). Causality: Philosophical theory meets scientific practice. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Illari, P., & Russo, F. (2014). Causality: Philosophical theory meets scientific practice. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
go back to reference Meehl, P. E. (1971). High school yearbooks: A reply to Schwarz. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 77(2), 143–148.CrossRef Meehl, P. E. (1971). High school yearbooks: A reply to Schwarz. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 77(2), 143–148.CrossRef
go back to reference Shadish, W. R., Cook, T. D., & Campbell, D. T. (2002). Experimental and quasi-experimental designs for generalized causal inference. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Shadish, W. R., Cook, T. D., & Campbell, D. T. (2002). Experimental and quasi-experimental designs for generalized causal inference. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
go back to reference Spector, P. E. (1992). A consideration of the validity and meaning of self-report measures of job conditions. In C. L. Cooper & I. T. Robertson (Eds.), International Review of Industrial and Organizational Psychology (pp. 123–151). West Sussex, UK: John Wiley. Spector, P. E. (1992). A consideration of the validity and meaning of self-report measures of job conditions. In C. L. Cooper & I. T. Robertson (Eds.), International Review of Industrial and Organizational Psychology (pp. 123–151). West Sussex, UK: John Wiley.
go back to reference Tuma, N. B., & Hannan, M. T. (1984). Social dynamics models and methods. Saint Louis, US: Elsevier. Tuma, N. B., & Hannan, M. T. (1984). Social dynamics models and methods. Saint Louis, US: Elsevier.
go back to reference Woodward, J. (2003). Making things happen: A theory of causal explanation. Oxford: New York City. Woodward, J. (2003). Making things happen: A theory of causal explanation. Oxford: New York City.
Metadata
Title
Do Not Cross Me: Optimizing the Use of Cross-Sectional Designs
Author
Paul E. Spector
Publication date
07-01-2019
Publisher
Springer US
Published in
Journal of Business and Psychology / Issue 2/2019
Print ISSN: 0889-3268
Electronic ISSN: 1573-353X
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-018-09613-8

Other articles of this Issue 2/2019

Journal of Business and Psychology 2/2019 Go to the issue

Premium Partner