Designing and refining simple experiments

You could have students design a simple experiment and have them present their proposed experiments to the class (see Handouts 9.3 and 9.4).

when commenting on their experiments, you may want to emphasize the following points.

  1. Refining the control group;

  2. Insuring adequate power;

  3. Discussing how the study is limited by only having two groups (thus setting up the need to discuss the more complex designs covered in chapters 10 & 11);

  4. Refining operational definitions of the measures (to review material covered in chapters 4 and 4); and

  5. Refining their hypothesis (to review material covered in chapter 2).

In addition to reviewing chapter 2, students may get some research ideas by looking at the Stroop Effect, the effect of mental set on solving anagrams, looking at Loftus' work on reconstructive errors in memory, or even looking at factors that might change people's answers to the "Monty Hall dilemma" (Monty Hall, a thoroughly honest game-show host, has placed a new car behind one of the three doors. There is a goat behind each of the other doors.

"First, you point toward a door,"he says. "Then, I'll open one of the other doors to reveal a goat. After I've shown you the goat, you make your final choice, and you win whatever is behind that door."
You begin by pointing to door number 1. Monty then shows you that door 3 has a goat. What would your final choice be?

__ Stick with door 1 ___ Switch to door 2.

To see an example of using this dilemma in research, read

Granberg, D. & Brown, T. A. (1995). The Monty Hall dilemma. Personality and Social

Psychology Bulletin, 21, 711-723.


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