Elements Of A Good Psychology Experiment
Finding psychology experiment ideas is not necessarily difficult, but finding a good experimental or study topic that is right for your needs can be a little tough. You need to find something that meets the guidelines and, perhaps most importantly, is approved by your instructor.
Requirements may vary, but you need to ensure that your experiment, study, or survey is:
In some cases, you may need to present your idea to your schools institutional review board before you begin in order to obtain permission to work with human participants.
A History Of Experimental Psychology
Questions about the nature of human behavior and the connection of the body and mind go back to classic philosophers like Plato and Aristotle. Likewise, the debate over nature vs nurture raged long before experimental psychology came along in its formal and modern form.
But the centuries of philosophizing about why people behave in the manners in which they behave sparked the interest of scientific researchers to study human behavior in an empirical manner. If the principles of the scientific method could be used for the study of behavior, perhaps scientists could provide definitive answers to the age-old questions surrounding human behavior.
Thus, experimental psychology was born.
The first experimental psychology lab in the world was founded in Leipzig, Germany, in 1879 by Wilhelm Wundt. There, Wundt primarily studied feelings and sensations in a structured manner using objective, systematized measures and controls.
For example, Wundt used his background in physiology to design an experiment on sensory processes in which each participant was exposed to the same stimulus, such as the sound of a metronome. Each participant was then asked to provide a report of the sensations they experienced, a process called introspection.
While Wundts process of introspection didnt remain a long-lasting approach to studying psychological processes, his insistence on controlling the experimental environment has had a long-term impact on how psychological research is conducted.
Selective Attention / Invisible Gorilla Experiment
Study Conducted by: Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris
Study Conducted in 1999 at Harvard University
Experiment Details: In 1999 Simons and Chabris conducted their famous awareness test at Harvard University.
Participants in the study were asked to watch a video and count how many passes occurred between basketball players on the white team. The video moves at a moderate pace and keeping track of the passes is a relatively easy task. What most people fail to notice amidst their counting is that in the middle of the test, a man in a gorilla suit walked onto the court and stood in the center before walking off-screen.
The study found that the majority of the subjects did not notice the gorilla at all, proving that humans often overestimate their ability to effectively multi-task. What the study set out to prove is that when people are asked to attend to one task, they focus so strongly on that element that they may miss other important details.
Study Conducted By Philip Zimbardo
Study Conducted in 1971 at Stanford University
Experiment Details: One of the most widely cited experiments in the field of psychology is the Stanford Prison Experiment in which psychology professor Philip Zimbardo set out to study the assumption of roles in a contrived situation.
Although the experiment was conducted very unethically, many psychologists believe that the findings showed how much human behavior is situational;and that people will conform to certain roles if the conditions are right.
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Types Of Experimental Research Design
The classic experimental design definition is, The methods used to collect data in experimental studies.
There are three primary types of experimental design:
- Pre-experimental research design
- True experimental research design
- Quasi-experimental research design
The way you classify research subjects, based on conditions or groups, determines the type of design.
1. Pre-experimental research design:;A group, or various groups, are kept under observation after implementing factors of cause and effect. Youll conduct this research to understand whether further investigation is necessary for these particular groups.
You can break down pre-experimental research further in three types:
- One-shot Case Study Research Design
- One-group Pretest-posttest Research Design
- Static-group Comparison
2. True experimental research design:;True experimental research relies on statistical analysis to prove or disprove a hypothesis, making it the most accurate form of research. Of the types of experimental design, only true design can establish a cause-effect relationship within a group. In a true experiment, three factors need to be satisfied:
- There is a Control Group, which wont be subject to changes, and an Experimental Group, which will experience the changed variables.
- A variable which can be manipulated by the researcher
- Random distribution
This experimental research method commonly occurs in the physical sciences.
List Of The Pros Of Experimental Research
1. Experimental research offers the highest levels of control. The procedures involved with experimental research make it possible to isolate specific variables within virtually any topic. This advantage makes it possible to determine if outcomes are viable. Variables are controllable on their own or in combination with others to determine what can happen when each scenario is brought to a conclusion. It is a benefit which applies to ideas, theories, and products, offering a significant advantage when accurate results or metrics are necessary for progress.
2. Experimental research is useful in every industry and subject. Since experimental research offers higher levels of control than other methods which are available, it offers results which provide higher levels of relevance and specificity. The outcomes that are possible come with superior consistency as well. It is useful in a variety of situations which can help everyone involved to see the value of their work before they must implement a series of events.
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Why Use Experimental Research Design
Experimental research design can be majorly used in physical sciences, social sciences, education, and psychology. It is used to make predictions and draw conclusions on a subject matter.;
Some uses of experimental research design are highlighted below.
- Medicine: Experimental research is used to provide the proper treatment for diseases. In most cases, rather than directly using patients as the research subject, researchers take a sample of the bacteria from the patient’s body and are treated with the developed antibacterial
The changes observed during this period are recorded and evaluated to determine its effectiveness. This process can be carried out using different experimental research methods.
- Education: Asides from science subjects like Chemistry and Physics which involves teaching students how to perform experimental research, it can also be used in improving the standard of an academic institution. This includes testing students’ knowledge on different topics, coming up with better teaching methods, and the implementation of other programs that will aid student learning.
- Human Behavior: Social scientists are the ones who mostly use experimental research to test human behaviour. For example, consider 2 people randomly chosen to be the subject of the social interaction research where one person is placed in a room without human interaction for 1 year.
The Schacter And Singer Experiment On Emotion
Study Conducted by: Stanley Schachter and Jerome E. Singer
Study Conducted in 1962 at Columbia University
Experiment Details: In 1962 Schachter and Singer conducted a ground breaking experiment to prove their theory of emotion.
In the study, a group of 184 male participants were injected with epinephrine, a hormone that induces arousal including increased heartbeat, trembling, and rapid breathing. The research participants were told that they were being injected with a new medication to test their eyesight. The first group of participants was informed the possible side effects that the injection might cause while the second group of participants were not. The participants were then placed in a room with someone they thought was another participant, but was actually a confederate in the experiment. The confederate acted in one of two ways: euphoric or angry. Participants who had not been informed about the effects of the injection were more likely to feel either happier or angrier than those who had been informed.
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Sampling Groups To Study
Sampling groups correctly is especially important when we have more than one condition in the experiment. One sample group often serves as a control group, whilst others are tested under the experimental conditions.
- Bayesian ProbabilityUsing bayesian probability to “interact” with participants is a more “advanced” experimental design. It can be used for settings were there are many variables which are hard to isolate. The researcher starts with a set of initial beliefs, and tries to adjust them to how participants have responded
Measure Your Dependent Variable
Finally, you need to decide how youll collect data on your dependent variable outcomes. You should aim for reliable and valid measurements that minimize bias or error.
Some variables, like temperature, can be objectively measured with scientific instruments. Others may need to be operationalized to turn them into measurable observations.
- Ask participants to record what time they go to sleep and get up each day.
- Ask participants to wear a sleep tracker.
How precisely you measure your dependent variable also affects the kinds of statistical analysis you can use on your data.
Experiments are always context-dependent, and a good experimental design will take into account all of the unique considerations of your study system to produce information that is both valid and relevant to your research question.
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What Do Experimental Psychologists Do
Experimental psychologists seek to study behaviors and the different processes and functions that support them. They test subjects to understand and learn about different topics like perception, memory, sensation, learning, motivation, and emotions.
For these psychological studies to be reliable, four fundamental principles must be present:
- Determinism: Experimental psychologists, like most scientists, accept the concept of determinism. It refers to the assumption that the state of an object or event is determined by its previous states. In other words, cause and effect usually originate behavioral or mental phenomena. If a phenomenon is general and widely confirmed, one could say its a law. Psychological theories serve to organize and integrate laws.
- Empiricism: Knowledge mainly comes from experiences related to the senses. Therefore, the only things we can study are those that are observable. The concept of empiricism requires a contrast between hypotheses and theories with observations of the natural world and not with previous reasoning, intuition, or revelation.
We can also add operationalism to these definitions. It implies that a concept is defined in terms of concrete and observable procedures. Experimental psychologists try to define currently unobservable phenomena;by connecting them to observations and reasoning.
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Also published on Medium.
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Hipp Chronoscope / Chronograph
This instrument, invented by MatthÃ¤us Hipp around 1850, uses a vibrating reed to tick off time in 1000ths of a second. Originally designed for experiments in physics, it was later adapted to study the speed of bullets. After then being introduced to physiology, it was finally used in psychology to measure reaction time and the duration of mental processes.
The first stereoscope was invented by Wheatstone in 1838. It presents two slightly different images, one to each eye, at the same time. Typically the images are photographs of the same object taken from camera positions that mimic the position and separation of the eyes in the head. When one looks through the steroscope the photos fuse into a single image that conveys a powerful sense of depth and solidity.
Developed by Carl Ludwig in the 19th century, the kymograph is a revolving drum on which a moving stylus tracks the size of some measurement as a function of time. The kymograph is similar to the polygraph, which has a strip of paper moving under one or more pens. The kymograph was originally used to measure blood pressure and it later was used to measure muscle contractions and speech sounds. In psychology, it was often used to record response times.
Harlows Rhesus Monkey Experiments
In a series of controversial experiments conducted in the;late 1950s and early 1960s, psychologist Harry Harlow demonstrated the powerful effects of love on normal development. By showing the devastating effects of deprivation on young rhesus monkeys, Harlow revealed the importance of love for healthy childhood development.
His experiments were often unethical and shockingly cruel, yet they uncovered fundamental truths that have heavily influenced our understanding of child development.
In one famous version of the experiments, infant monkeys were separated from their mothers immediately after birth and placed in an environment where they had access to either a wire monkey “mother” or a version of the faux-mother covered in a soft-terry cloth. While the wire mother provided food, the cloth mother provided only softness and comfort.
Harlow found that while the infant monkeys would go to the wire mother for food, they vastly preferred the company of the soft and comforting cloth mother. The study demonstrated that maternal bonds were about much more than simply providing nourishment and that comfort and security played a major role in the formation of attachments.
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Why This Experiment Is Notable
Milgram’s experiment;is one of the most controversial in psychology history. Many participants experienced considerable distress as a result of their participation and in many cases were never debriefed after the conclusion of the experiment. The experiment played a role in the development of ethical guidelines for the use of human participants in psychology experiments.
Advantages Of Experimental Research
Its vital to test new ideas or theories. Why put time, effort, and funding into something that may not work?
Experimental research allows you to test your idea in a controlled environment before taking it to market. It also provides the best method to test your theory, thanks to the following advantages:
- Researchers have a stronger hold over variables to obtain desired results.
- The subject or industry does not impact the effectiveness of experimental research. Any industry can implement it for research purposes.
- The results are specific.
- After analyzing the results, you can apply your findings to similar ideas or situations.
- You can identify the cause and effect of a hypothesis. Researchers can further analyze this relationship to determine more in-depth ideas.
- Experimental research makes an ideal starting point. The data you collect is a foundation on which to build more ideas and conduct more research.
Whether you want to know how the public will react to a new product or if a certain food increases the chance of disease, experimental research is the best place to start. Begin your research by finding subjects using;QuestionPro Audience;and other tools today.
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Section 2: Experimental Studies
Unlike a descriptive study, an experiment is a study in which a treatment, procedure, or program is intentionally introduced and a result or outcome is observed. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines an experiment as “A test under controlled conditions that is made to demonstrate a known truth, to examine the validity of a hypothesis, or to determine the efficacy of something previously untried.”
True experiments have four elements: manipulation, control , random assignment, and random selection. The most important of these elements are manipulation and control. Manipulation means that something is purposefully changed by the researcher in the environment. Control is used to prevent outside factors from influencing the study outcome. When something is manipulated and controlled and then the outcome happens, it makes us more confident that the manipulation “caused” the outcome. In addition, experiments involve highly controlled and systematic procedures in an effort to minimize error and bias, which also increases our confidence that the manipulation “caused” the outcome.
Another key element of a true experiment is random assignment. Random assignment means that if there are groups or treatments in the experiment, participants are assigned to these groups or treatments, or randomly .
Definition: An experiment is a study in which a treatment, procedure, or program is intentionally introduced and a result or outcome is observed.
Exercises And Critical Thinking
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Types Of Experimental Design
There are two basic types of research design:
- True experiments
The purpose of both is to examine the cause of certain phenomena.
True experiments, in which all the important factors that might affect the phenomena of interest are completely controlled, are the preferred design. Often, however, it is not possible or practical to control all the key factors, so it becomes necessary to implement a quasi-experimental research design.
Similarities between true and quasi-experiments:
- Study participants are subjected to some type of treatment or condition
- Some outcome of interest is measured
- The researchers test whether differences in this outcome are related to the treatment
Differences between true experiments and quasi-experiments:
- In a true experiment, participants are randomly assigned to either the treatment or the control group, whereas they are not assigned randomly in a quasi-experiment
- In a quasi-experiment, the control and treatment groups differ not only in terms of the experimental treatment they receive, but also in other, often unknown or unknowable, ways. Thus, the researcher must try to statistically control for as many of these differences as possible
- Because control is lacking in quasi-experiments, there may be several “rival hypotheses” competing with the experimental manipulation as explanations for observed results