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B01 CH9.pdf

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Anna Nagy

Chapter 9Conducting ExperimentsSelecting Research ParticipantsThe methods used to select participants has implications for generalizing the research resultsRecall most experiments involve sampling participants from the population of interest which is composed of all individuals of interest to the researcherSamples may be drawn using probability sampling or nonprobability sampling but when it is important to accurately describe the entire population you must use probability samplingMuch research however is interested in testing hypothesis about behaviour so the focus is the relationships between the variable being studied and testing predictions made based on theories of behaviour In such cases participants may be found in the easiest way possiblenonprobability sampling Nothing is wrong with this as long as you recognize that this affects your ability to generalize your results to larger populations though it is still possible toYou also need to determine your sample sizeIncreasing the sample size increases the likelihood that results will be statistically significant because larger populations are better estimates of the true population valuesManipulating the Independent VariableTo manipulate the independent variable you must construct an operational definition of the variableyou must turn a conceptual variable into a set of operationsAlso the independent and dependent variables must be introduced within the context of the total experimental setting which is known as setting the stageSetting the StageIn setting the stage you must do two things 1 provide the participants with the informed consent information needed for your study 2 explain to participants why the experiment is being conducted sometimes the rationale given is entirely truthful but the researcher will rarely give the hypothesis because if participants know exactly what you are studying they may try to confirm the hypothesis Therefore you may tell the participants you are studying memory when you are actually studying a certain aspect of memory If deception is initially necessary you have an obligation to address the deception when you debrief the participants afterwardsThere are no clear cut rules for setting the stage except the experimental setting must seem plausible to the participantsTypes of Manipulation Straightforward ManipulationResearchers are usually able to manipulate a variable relatively simply by presenting written verbal or visual material to the participantsStraightforward manipulationmanipulated variables with instructions and stimulus presentationsStimuli may be presented verbally in written form via video tape or over the computerEg A study on the impact of heath promotion brochures presented two types of brochures to womenone with text only and one with picturesMost memory research relies on straightforward manipulations Eg Langdon displayed lists of words to participants and measured their recall The word lists differed in phonological similarity some words sounded alike like cat and hat and some did not They found that lists with dissimilar words were recalled more accurately Good examples of straightforward manipulation on page 168Most manipulations of independent variables are done straightforwardresearchers vary the difficulty of material to be learned motivation the way questions are asked etc in a straightforward mannerStaged ManipulationsLess straightforwardsometimes it is necessary to stage events during the experiment to manipulate the independent variable successfullyAka staged or even manipulatedMost frequently used for two reasons 1 to create some psychological state in the participants such as frustration or anger 2 may be necessary to simulate some situation that occurs in real life such as studying cognitive performance under conditions of multiple task demandstaged manipulations frequently employ a confederate or an accomplice Usually the confederate appears to be another participant They are useful in creating a particular social situation Eg in a study on aggression the confederate and the participant are both told to wait in a room where the confederate insults the participant in the anger condition but does not insult the participant in the noanger condition The classic experiment by Asch on conformity is an example of the use of confederates When participants were told to match a line to the line of the same length the multiple confederates unanimously gave the wrong answer Because of this the participants conformed and gave the same clearly wrong answer as the confederatesLook at table 91 on page 170Staged manipulations require a great deal of ingenuity and some acting ability on the part of the confederate for they are meant to involve the participants in an ongoing social situation which they perceive to be real not part of the experiment
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