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Experiments For You To Analyze

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1. Dr. Panglos in the Military Research Office has a theory that soldiers who have higher IQs are more effective in combat. He has a friend at an army training center who is in charge of a group of soldiers who act the part of the SIMFORCE (they assume the role of enemy soldiers and "fight" a different regular army unit in simulated laser combat every week). Dr. Panglos considers the simulated combat to be highly experimental so he calls his friend and ask him to rate each soldier in the unit in terms of his combat skill. Next he gets each of the soldier's personnel file and gets their scores on the Armed Forces Entry Test (AFET), a measure of the soldiers mental aptitudes. Dr. Panglos says his theory will be supported if the soldiers with higher AFET scores also have high ratings on combat effectiveness. In order to get the data he needs, Dr. Panglos calls his friend at the training center, explains the experiment to him, and asks him to provide the soldier ratings.

2. Dr. Morgan wants to find out there is such a thing as "repression". Repression is Freudís idea that your mind can unconsciously and automatically hide unpleasant memories from itself. (Some psychologist believe that people do repress unpleasant memories, but other psychologist say that there is no such thing.) In order to test this theory, Dr. Morgan advertises for participants and offers to pay $25 for anyone willing to participate in an experiment. The participants show up at an amusement park where the experiment will take place at nine o'clock, before the park actually opens. Dr. Morgan explains the experimental procedure to the participants, and has them sign a consent form. In this experiment, Dr. Morgan plans to give each participant a glass of lemonade that they are required to drink just before they go on a long roller coaster ride. He will arrange for some of the participants to get a tasteless chemical in their lemonade that will make them feel slightly nauseous (sick to their stomachs) for about 15 minutes. Each participant is given a name tag with a number on it , so Dr. Morganís assistant can keep a record of which participants got the drug and which got the plain lemonade. The participants will not be told whether they got the drugged lemonade or plain lemonade. Once on the roller coaster, the participant will ride for two circuits, so they will travel through the station once before returning the second time to get off the roller coaster. The first time they ride through the station, Pangloss will hold up a sign with a phrase on it (such as "frozen food is better than canned!"). When the ride is over, Dr. Morgan will go over to the roller coaster after it stops and before the participants get off and ask everyone who remembers what the phase was to hold up their hand. Dr. Morgan's assistant will write down the number of each participant who remembers what the phrase was. Dr. Morgan believes that those who received the drug will have a much more unpleasant experience than those who did not receive the drug, (since they will feel sick to their stomach while riding a roller coaster). Thus, his theory will be supported if fewer of those who got the drug remember the phrase than those who got plain lemonade.

3. Dr. Loomis wanted to know if people with depression are better off to get "humanistic" psycho-therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy. In order to find an answer to his question he first recruits people asking for therapy at a local clinic by offering to pay for their therapy if they will participate. Once someone volunteers to participate, Dr. Loomis randomly assigns them to one of three groups. One group is given a psychological test to see how depressed they are and then they are put on a waiting list. They are also given a brochure about depression and are told to go home until they are contacted later in the research. Another group is given a test of how depressed they are and they then receive cognitive behavioral therapy twice a week for six weeks. The third group is also given the test of depression, and they are given humanistic therapy twice a week for six week. Six weeks after the therapy is completed, (or twelve weeks after the depression test - for the patients on the waiting list) the patients are again given test to measure depression. Dr. Loomis says that the group with the most positive change on the second test (compared with the first test) got the best results of therapy.

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4. Dr. Rusher is a consumer psychologist who is helping to design a new toy, ElectriCAT. Two designs are proposed for the toy. One is a yellow cat that has a hard body but is very fury, and the other is a red cat with no fur, but it has a soft spongy body. The thing that is unique about the ElectriCAT toy is that it is filled with a special nontoxic chemical that emits heat when it is shaken or disturbed, so that ElectriCAT actually gets warm as the child plays with it. In addition to the hard bodied ElectriCAT and the soft bodied ElectriCAT, the experiment also includes another toy. This other toy is called "Fritz the Sock" because it consists of a white cotton sock which is stuffed with cotton balls and sewed closed.

Dr. Rusher arranges for a large group of three year olds to be brought to the lab (one at a time) by their parents for the experiment. In the experiment the parent takes the child into the experimental (waiting) room, places the child on the carpet, and gives the child an experimental toy. After seven minutes, the first toy is taken away and the child is given another toy, and seven minutes after that the child is given the final toy for 10 minutes. In order to minimize any effect of the order in which the toys are presented, the order of the toys (which is first, which second, which last) is changed in a random pattern, so the children receive the toys in different orders. Dr. Rusher has a video camera hidden behind a one-way mirror which tapes the children playing with the toys. Dr. Rusher says that the version of ElectriCAT that gets actively played with for the greatest total time is the better design. Dr. Rusher thinks that the yellow warm bodied toy will be played with most by the three year olds, but he isn't sure if the red or yellow ElectriCAT will be liked more. (One of the things you are asked to do here is figure out what is the role of Fritz, Fritz is not a candidate to be ElectriCAT. )

5. An experimenter wants to learn if taking a large dose of Lysine will cause a reduction of the symptoms of female patients being treated for "conversion disorder". The experimenter wants to assign the patients to two groups quickly, and he notices that about half the patients are wearing sneakers and the other half are wearing other kinds of shoes. So he tells the patients with sneakers to go in one line and those with other kinds of shoes to get in another line. The patients in the sneaker line receive the Lysine and the patients in the other line receive a harmless sugar pill. After the patients receive their medication, the sneaker group is taken to the snack bar for an ice cream in order to keep them busy until the experimenter and his assistant are ready to test them for "conversion symptoms". The other patients are taken to the TV room to keep them busy. After an hour is up., the experimenter and his assistant give each patient a brief test (in a private room) to see which group has more serious symptoms of "conversion disorder". The experimenter and his assistant switch between the sneaker group and the other group in order to assure there is no experimenter bias.


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This page provides statements of sample experiments. The experiments can be critiqued by students to develop and demonstrate their understanding of the basic concepts in experimentation. CAUTION: Do not try these experiments at home! Ad Choices are selected by Google.

The this page is Copyright 2000, 2001, 2012 Bernard Schuster. The animated dog came from the free collection at Angelfire. Teachers can print copies of the pages to use as teaching aids for their classes, however email me for permission before installing electronic copies.