The Complete Knowhow Guide to Socially Sensitive Research

Students who are new to research often spend even months selecting a topic of interest for conducting research. The topic selection is a very important part of a research because if you select a topic that has very limited or no application in a particular discipline, it will waste your time as well as money. Thus, the students must know the socially sensitive research to wisely select a topic for their academic research. This article aims to discuss socially sensitive studies and their different aspects. However, for knowing socially sensitive research, it is important to first understand the concept of social sensitivity.

What Is Social Sensitivity?

Social sensitivity aims to explain abilities of an individual to perceive, identify and understand clues in social interactions by taking into account the respect factor at priority. It is one of the most sought-after social skills. The more social sensitive a person is, the more he/she will be liked and successful in social groups or business relationships. Generally, the person who is unable to understand clues to stop talking or those who interrupt others and treat people in a disrespectful manner are examples of low social sensitivity. However, an individual who understands conversational clues, never forces anybody to do something, and manages time in social interactions belongs to high social sensitive group. Generally, PhD dissertation help services are much beneficial in conducting this research.

What Is Socially Sensitive Research?

Typically, the research that is likely to evoke severe negative or emotional responses from participants refers to socially sensitive research. There are high chances of creating a controversy if research is conducted on socially sensitive research. Research is likely to be socially sensitive if it discusses a highly personal or private topic, questions authority, violates ethical considerations of conducting research, discusses anything scary, and explains deviant behaviours. One of the most popular examples of socially sensitive issues of the era is linking intelligence to genetic factors.

Issues Related To Social Sensitivity In Research:

The word S.C.A.R best explains the nature of socially sensitive research. In S.C.A.R, stands for subject to social norms, C refers to controversial, explains the ability to shape the law or policy, and R represents the risk of stereotyping and prejudice. These four words highlight the most prominent issues in socially sensitive research.

Subject Of Social Norms:

Subject to social norms are accepted behaviours that a person should conform to in a community or social group. Social norms are essential to lead the foundation of correct behaviours. Examples of social norms include greeting, handshaking, direct eye-to-eye contact, and speaking politely.


As a matter of course, controversy is a prolonged public disagreement or any kind of hated discussion. In research, social controversies include problems that affect people or groups in terms of respect, faith and briefs. The social problems that are sensitive in nature for a certain group of people or for a whole community create literature gaps. People usually do not agree to participate in research dealing with sensitive information; thus, it creates a literature gap due to the lack of cooperation from people to participate.

Able To Shape The Law/Policy

Research often attempts to shape the existing laws of policies through advocacy, mobilisation and education. Studies that aim to shape the laws are also the subject of socially sensitive research. Expecting Western-style democracies, law or policy-shaping in all other regions is socially sensitive.

Risking Stereotyping And Prejudice:

Stereotyping is the process of non-scientific and over-generalised behaviour about social groups. Stereotyping can be positive as well as negative. In contrast, prejudice is any type of unjustified and negative behaviour that always imparts a negative sense. Risking both stereotyping and prejudice in social research prevents the research participants from being a part of the research. Thus, it is another cause of low social sensitivity.

What Are Four Important Aspects Of Socially Sensitive Research?

In 1988, Sieber and Stanley first used the term social sensitivity to explain studies that may cause potential social consequences in participants. They described four sensitive aspects of the scientific research that raise ethical implications: 1) research questions, 2) methods used, 3) institutional context, and 4) interpretations and findings.

Research Questions:

Researchers should make the research questions that must not disturb participants. For example, questions like, ‘do you have inherited intelligence’ may disturb a particular group of participants.

Methodology Used:

The second aspect of social sensitivity in the research focuses on the rights of participants, such as confidentiality and anonymity. In all types of research, the researcher must consider the participants’ demand to keep their personal data confidential or not mention any clue declaring their identity. For example, if you aim to see the incidence of oral cancer in the traffic wardens, confidentiality and anonymity demand you not to reveal names of wardens who developed or have a history of developing oral cancer.

Institutional Context:

Socially sensitive research must start with a clear view of how the data is going to be used. The researcher must know the required resources to get funds for the project. Social sensitivity suggests researchers who are conducting research for an organisation to know how they will use the findings.

Interpretation And Application Of Findings:

Lastly, the researcher must know what the impact of the results or findings of particular research will be on the real world. It allows researchers to effectively deal with socially sensitive issues.

Final Thoughts:

In summary, socially sensitive research is the one that has ethical issues beyond the research situation. It often creates distress and controversies among certain individuals and a group of people within the society. It suggests researchers to keep participants’ respect, social norms and briefs as their priority. The word S.C.A.R can best explain the socially sensitive issues, such as the subject of social norms, controversy, being able to shape the law/policy, and risking stereotyping and prejudice. On the same ground, the four aspects of socially sensitive research include research questions, research methodology, institutional context, and interpretation and application of findings. All in all, you can use the grounded theory approach to conduct research that explores socially sensitive information.

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