What is the experimental method of research?

Experimental researchers manipulate variables, randomly assign participants to various conditions and seek to control other influences.

What do I need to consider when doing experiments?
• Experimental research in psychology involves defining a research problem, describing a hypothesis, describing the process to be followed, gathering data, analyzing the data, reporting the findings, and stating conclusions in relation to the hypothesis. • Prepare your experiment in advance. Practice your procedure. Be sure that you have all of the materials necessary to conduct the experiment. • Permission to conduct research. Does the participant(s) know that you are conducting an experiment? Do you have their written permission? • Is the experiment safe? Will the participants suffer any physical, mental or emotional anguish? If so, do not perform the experiment. • Discuss the experiment with your teacher. Your teacher will be able to guide and assist you to ensure that the experimental procedure is correct, complete and valid. • Audiotape or videotape the experiment. This will help in data analysis, as well as provide some additional information that may be of value when interpreting the data.

What are the issues, or concerns in conducting experiments?
• Ethics of the experiment. Is the experiment appropriate? Is the experiment safe? • Bias. Did I “add” to the test results by presuming or

assuming something that was not written about, spoken by or observed during the experiment? • Confidentiality. Be sure you have asked for their permission to be studied, and that they are aware of the purpose and intended audience of the results of the experiment.

What materials will I need?
• • • • Journal, note paper, writing materials Tape recorder, videotape recorder List of materials needed, prepared beforehand Written permission forms

Conduct Your Own Psychology Experiment (on a limited budget!)
In a group of three, design a simple experiment which studies human behavior. Refer to these characteristics of scientific study while you plan your experiment: 1. You must be able to measure the behavior 2. You must remain objective (no bias or opinions allowed) 3. You must be able to report the procedure in an organized & systematic manner FOLLOW THESE STEPS: The Experiment 1. Brainstorm for ideas. What might be some possible experiments? Remember, keep it simple. Select the best idea. (See list on the back of this sheet for ideas).

2. State your hypothesis – usually stated in an “if-then” form. 3. Outline the procedure you will use. Clearly state all steps and instructions. Remember, you manipulate the independent variables. Dependent variables or changes in behavior are a result of or depend on the independent variables. 4. Determine who will be participating in your experiment. Will you choose people at random or will you target certain groups, ages, males, females or both? Consider using two groups – a control group and an experimental group. 5. Perform your experiment and collect your data. 6. Analyze the data you have collected in detail. Do the results of your experiment confirm your hypothesis? 7. Finally, draw some general conclusions from your results. The Written Component Write up your experiment using the following headings: 1. Hypothesis 2. Materials Used 3. Subjects Used 4. Procedures 5. Data Collected 6. Data Analysis 7. Conclusions The Presentation As a group, present your experiment findings to the rest of the class. You are encouraged to do an in-class simulation or

demonstration if possible. Also, include a visual of some sort – a poster, an overhead of data, graphs or related info, a video clip, etc. Be creative!! Keep is short – 5-6 minutes. Be prepared to answer questions from your classmates and your teacher! Evaluation: 30 marks total (written experiment – 15, visual component – 5, presentation – 10) Possible Topics: 1. Examine honesty in people 2. Examine helping behaviors – men vs. women, no. of people present, appearance, etc. 3. Effect of some factor on performance (stress, sleep, food, drink, music) 4. Effect of some factor on performance (stress, sleep, food, drink, music) 5. Effect of practice on a skill – massed vs. distributed practice 6. Effect of color on mood, performance 7. Test ability to memorize – influenced by various factors 8. Gender differences in problem-solving 9. Effect of reward/punishment on behavior 10. Eyewitness testimony – looks at witness perception 11. Social facilitation – performance is enhanced or hindered when others are present 12. Physical tests/Reaction times – males vs. females These are just a few examples. Brainstorm for others.  

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