Stimulus Materials – Experimental Paper – Summer 2013 – 10 Points
1). For your experimental study this summer, you are the researcher, and you will collect data
from three participants (the participants must not have taken research methods in the Spring
semester, 2013 or have taken research methods in the Fall semester, 2012). Each survey has three
parts. In Part I, they will provide demographic information. In Part II, they will solve anagrams
(rearranging the letters in an old word to form a new word). In Part III, they will provide
feedback regarding their perceptions of the anagram task.
A). Your first task is to approach three different participants (not all at the same time!). Ask
them if they are willing to participate in a short study for your psychology research methods
class. Tell them the survey measures their ability to rearrange words in an anagram task, and
that they do not have to participate. They will receive no benefit from participating, but they
will help you earn points in your methods class. Get their informed consent verbally.
B). Have them read the instructions for the study on the top of the first survey page. Answer
any questions they may have
C). Have them complete Part One. For this portion of the survey, participants will provide
their demographic data. If they are uncomfortable giving some of this information, they do
not have to provide it.
D). Make sure they read the instructions at the bottom of the first page. It is important that
they know that most participants complete the anagram task within 30 seconds. Let them
know that you will time them to see how long it takes them to solve the anagrams. Use a
watch (or the stopwatch on your i-phone!) to measure their time in Part Two.
E). The anagram task is in Part Two. One version of this task is very easy (It has the words
LEMON, TAB, and CINERAMA, which can easily be rearranged to spell MELON, BAT,
and AMERICAN. You will see the letter E at the bottom of the page, designating the easy
condition). Another version of this task is moderately difficult (It has the letter M on the
bottom of the page, and has the words LEMON, WHIRL, and CINERAMA. Both LEMON
and CINERAMA can be rearranged, but WHIRL is impossible to rearrange). Finally, the
hard version (denoted H) has the words WHIRL, ORANGE, and CINERAMA, and only the
last word can be rearranged. As you time participants, you may see those in the moderate and
hard group having a hard time. Keep timing until they tell you they give up. For all three
conditions, write down how long it took them to complete the task on the bottom of the page.
NOTE: This study has one independent variable (Task Difficulty) with three levels (easy,
moderate, and hard). We may also look at gender as a second independent variable with
two levels (male or female), which would make it a 3 X 2 design. Your dependent
variables are in Part Two is a). whether they complete the third word (CINERAMA)
successfully, and b). their time to complete the task. Make sure to write down their time
F). Finally, have them complete Part Three. Our remaining four dependent variables are in
this section (ease of the task personally, ease for others, frustration, and ideas about whether
it can be done in 30 seconds). Once they complete this part, debrief them on the study design.
For this debriefing, tell them we are conducting a study on learned helplessness. Tell them
that the word CINERAMA appears on all versions of the survey, and can be turned into
AMERICAN, but that some people got words that cannot be rearranged (like WHIRL and
ORANGE). Most will probably find this experiment funny, but let them know that the study
in no way says anything about their intelligence level with regard to anagrams.
Tell them your two hypotheses:
First, we predict that people who are in the hard condition will be less likely to correctly
rearrange the word CINERAMA to spell AMERICAN. Those in the moderate group
should be able to spell AMERICAN a little more frequently (but not always), while
almost all of the people in the easy group should be able to spell AMERICAN. This is
because those in the hard and moderate groups are impacted by learned helplessness –
failure on previous words will make them give up on later words, even if those later
words can be solved.
Second, we predict that people in the hard condition will find the task hard personally,
think most other people will find the task to be hard, will be most frustrated with the task,
and will think almost no one will be able to complete it within 30 seconds. Those in the
easy condition should fall at the other extreme: find it easy personally, think others will
find it easy, will show little frustration, and will expect most people to complete the task
within 30 seconds. Those in the moderate group should fall between those two groups.
2). Hold onto your surveys, as you will need them for your lab. You will enter data into SPSS
and analyze it with your lab instructor. Each student is responsible for collecting data from three
participants (one participant for each level of Task Difficulty – easy, moderate, and hard).
However, you will analyze data by combining your survey with the data from other students in
your lab, so your final sample will include roughly 144 participants.
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