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7 Theoretical Models

Atheoretical model is a tool that can promote theory construction. In this chapter, we discuss what a model is and how it can be used to improve theory, including how to represent theories in model form and how to derive theoretical statements from models. Along the way, we look at different types of models, how to evaluate models, and future directions in model building, all in an effort to show how models can be a major implement in the theory builder's toolkit. We will use a variety of models of the communication process to help illustrate our points, which apply equally well to model building throughout the social sciences. Referring to the use of the word model in the social science literature, Kaplan (1964b) noted “the confusing and often confused usage of the term” (p. 267). Sometimes the term is used to refer to a strictly “physical model,” such model ...

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