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The assignment is attached below.

For each of the studies described below, what conclusions can be reached? Are the researchers’ conclusions valid? Why or why not? What alternative explanations, if any, can there be for the research findings? Is the study high or low in internal validity? If you think there are problems with the study or the conclusions reached, how can the study be improved so that there are no flaws or so that alternative explanations can be ruled out? (Note: Some of these studies may not have any serious methodological flaws or alternative explanations.)

In addition to addressing these issues, evaluate each study in terms of its experimental realism, mundane realism, and ethics.

Example I. Taste Test

The owners of a soft-drink company believed that its product, Diet Duff’s, was better than its more popular competitor, Diet Smash. They decided to run a “blind taste test” in which individuals would taste some of each product without knowing which cup contained which drink. Two hundred randomly selected men and women from three different communities participated in the test. Each participant was seated at a table. A cup on the person’s left was labeled “Q” and contained six ounces of Diet Smash. A cup on the person’s right was labeled “M” and contained six ounces of Diet Duff’s. The participants, of course, were not told which drink was in which cup. Half of the time, the participants were told to try the cup on the left first, and half of the time they were told to try the cup on the right first. The drinks in both cups were equally fresh and cold.

The results supported Diet Duff’s hopes: Diet Duff’s was preferred by 105 people, Diet Smash was preferred by 84 people, and 11 people could not indicate a preference between the two drinks. Diet Duff’s began an advertisement campaign stating that in a blind taste test, more people preferred Diet Duff’s than Diet Smash.

Example II. Political Attitudes

Some researchers were concerned with what they believed to be an increasing polarization in the political attitudes of Americans. They wondered if people who are extreme conservatives and people who are extreme liberals might become less extreme if they could spend some time imagining themselves taking the opposite position. They speculated that such role-playing might enable people to understand arguments they had previously refused to consider and to empathize with the fears and hopes of people they had previously rejected as ignorant or selfish.

To test this idea the researchers asked 500 adults to complete a questionnaire that measured their political attitudes. From this group, they then selected 60 people who scored very high on conservatism and 60 people who scored very high on liberalism to participate in the role-playing tasks. One of these tasks consisted of asking the conservatives to write a good, logical, and impassioned essay arguing in favor of some liberal policies, and asking the liberals to do the same for some conservative policies. Four weeks later, these 120 participants were given the same questionnaire that they had been given initially. The researchers found that, on average, the conservatives had become more liberal and the liberals had become more conservative. The researchers concluded that role-playing causes extreme conservatives and liberals to become more moderate in their positions and more understanding of the other side.

Example III. Cheating and Mirrors

Some researchers interested in studying the effects of self-awareness on guilt and optimism were aware of previous studies that had found that placing participants in front of a mirror made the participants more self-focused—that is, more likely to think about, or be affected by, their own personal attitudes, norms, and standards. Thus, they decided to examine the effects of placing a mirror in front of participants who have just done or not done something that was morally wrong. Specifically, they wanted to see whether the presence of the mirror would make participants who have just done something wrong feel guiltier about what they have done, and whether this guilt would affect their thoughts about their future.

To investigate this notion, the researchers took a random sample of children from a junior high school and placed each alone in a room with no mirror. The child was given a game to play in the room. All children were told that if they won the game, they would receive some money. The researchers rigged this game so that the children had an easy opportunity to cheat. Using hidden cameras, they were able to record which children cheated. In this study, about 50 percent of the children cheated. After the game was over, the researchers put the children into another room. For half of the children, a large mirror was in the room with them; for the other half, no such mirror was present. The researchers asked the children to write an essay about their futures. The dependent variable was how optimistic their essays were.

The researchers found that the children who had cheated wrote essays that were less optimistic about their future than were the essays written by the other children. They also found, however, that the presence or absence of a mirror had no effect on these essays. The researchers concluded that cheating does make children feel guiltier, and therefore less optimistic about their future, but that self-awareness does not make this effect any stronger.

Example IV. Fear and Affiliation

A researcher conducted a study designed to investigate whether people who are experiencing fear prefer to be alone or with other people. The participants (who were all women) were randomly assigned to one of two conditions. In the “fear” condition, the participants arrived at a lab and were greeted by a serious-looking experimenter who was dressed in a white lab coat, had a stethoscope visible in his pocket, and was standing in front of an array of elaborate-looking electrical equipment. He introduced himself as Dr. Gregor Zilstein. He said slowly:

What we will ask each of you to do is very simple. We would like to give each of you a series of electrical shocks. Now, I feel I must be completely honest with you and tell you exactly what you are in for. These shocks will hurt, they will be painful. As you can guess, it is necessary that our shocks be intense. What we will do is put an electrode on your hand, hook you into an apparatus such as this, give you a series of shocks, and take various measures…. Again, I do want to be honest with you and tell you that these shocks will be quite painful but, of course, they will do no permanent damage.

In the “no fear” condition, the participants arrived at the lab and were greeted by Dr. Zilstein, but the electrical equipment was not displayed and Dr. Zilstein exhibited a much more pleasant, comforting demeanor. He said:

What we will ask each of you to do is very simple. We would like to give each of you a series of very mild electrical shocks. I assure you that what you will feel will not in any way be painful. It will resemble more a tickle than anything unpleasant. We will put an electrode on your hand, give you a series of very mild shocks and measure such things as your pulse rate, which I am sure you are all familiar with from visits to your family doctor.

In both conditions Dr. Zilstein added:

Before we begin with the shocking proper, there will be about a 10-minute delay while we get this room in order. We have several pieces of equipment to bring in and get set up…. Here is what we will ask you to do for this 10-minute period of waiting. We have on this floor a number of additional rooms so that each of you, if you would like, can wait alone in your own room. These rooms are comfortable and spacious; they all have armchairs, and there are books and magazines in each room. It did occur to us, however, that some of you might want to wait for these 10 minutes together with some of the other girls here. If you would prefer this, of course, just let us know. We’ll take one of the empty classrooms on the floor, and you can wait together with some of the other girls there.

The participants then stated whether they preferred waiting alone or waiting with others or had no preference. The researcher found that participants who were in the “fear” condition were much more likely to prefer to wait with other people than to wait alone, whereas the participants in the “no fear” condition showed no clear preference. The researcher concluded that fear led to the desire to affiliate.For each of the studies described below, what conclusions can be reached? Are the researchers’ conclusions valid? Why or why not? What alternative explanations, if any, can there be for the research findings? Is the study high or low in internal validity? If you think there are problems with the study or the conclusions reached, how can the study be improved so that there are no flaws or so that alternative explanations can be ruled out? (Note: Some of these studies may not have any serious methodological flaws or alternative explanations.)

In addition to addressing these issues, evaluate each study in terms of its experimental realism, mundane realism, and ethics.

Example I. Taste Test

The owners of a soft-drink company believed that its product, Diet Duff’s, was better than its more popular competitor, Diet Smash. They decided to run a “blind taste test” in which individuals would taste some of each product without knowing which cup contained which drink. Two hundred randomly selected men and women from three different communities participated in the test. Each participant was seated at a table. A cup on the person’s left was labeled “Q” and contained six ounces of Diet Smash. A cup on the person’s right was labeled “M” and contained six ounces of Diet Duff’s. The participants, of course, were not told which drink was in which cup. Half of the time, the participants were told to try the cup on the left first, and half of the time they were told to try the cup on the right first. The drinks in both cups were equally fresh and cold.

The results supported Diet Duff’s hopes: Diet Duff’s was preferred by 105 people, Diet Smash was preferred by 84 people, and 11 people could not indicate a preference between the two drinks. Diet Duff’s began an advertisement campaign stating that in a blind taste test, more people preferred Diet Duff’s than Diet Smash.

Example II. Political Attitudes

Some researchers were concerned with what they believed to be an increasing polarization in the political attitudes of Americans. They wondered if people who are extreme conservatives and people who are extreme liberals might become less extreme if they could spend some time imagining themselves taking the opposite position. They speculated that such role-playing might enable people to understand arguments they had previously refused to consider and to empathize with the fears and hopes of people they had previously rejected as ignorant or selfish.

To test this idea the researchers asked 500 adults to complete a questionnaire that measured their political attitudes. From this group, they then selected 60 people who scored very high on conservatism and 60 people who scored very high on liberalism to participate in the role-playing tasks. One of these tasks consisted of asking the conservatives to write a good, logical, and impassioned essay arguing in favor of some liberal policies, and asking the liberals to do the same for some conservative policies. Four weeks later, these 120 participants were given the same questionnaire that they had been given initially. The researchers found that, on average, the conservatives had become more liberal and the liberals had become more conservative. The researchers concluded that role-playing causes extreme conservatives and liberals to become more moderate in their positions and more understanding of the other side.

Example III. Cheating and Mirrors

Some researchers interested in studying the effects of self-awareness on guilt and optimism were aware of previous studies that had found that placing participants in front of a mirror made the participants more self-focused—that is, more likely to think about, or be affected by, their own personal attitudes, norms, and standards. Thus, they decided to examine the effects of placing a mirror in front of participants who have just done or not done something that was morally wrong. Specifically, they wanted to see whether the presence of the mirror would make participants who have just done something wrong feel guiltier about what they have done, and whether this guilt would affect their thoughts about their future.

To investigate this notion, the researchers took a random sample of children from a junior high school and placed each alone in a room with no mirror. The child was given a game to play in the room. All children were told that if they won the game, they would receive some money. The researchers rigged this game so that the children had an easy opportunity to cheat. Using hidden cameras, they were able to record which children cheated. In this study, about 50 percent of the children cheated. After the game was over, the researchers put the children into another room. For half of the children, a large mirror was in the room with them; for the other half, no such mirror was present. The researchers asked the children to write an essay about their futures. The dependent variable was how optimistic their essays were.

The researchers found that the children who had cheated wrote essays that were less optimistic about their future than were the essays written by the other children. They also found, however, that the presence or absence of a mirror had no effect on these essays. The researchers concluded that cheating does make children feel guiltier, and therefore less optimistic about their future, but that self-awareness does not make this effect any stronger.

Example IV. Fear and Affiliation

A researcher conducted a study designed to investigate whether people who are experiencing fear prefer to be alone or with other people. The participants (who were all women) were randomly assigned to one of two conditions. In the “fear” condition, the participants arrived at a lab and were greeted by a serious-looking experimenter who was dressed in a white lab coat, had a stethoscope visible in his pocket, and was standing in front of an array of elaborate-looking electrical equipment. He introduced himself as Dr. Gregor Zilstein. He said slowly:

What we will ask each of you to do is very simple. We would like to give each of you a series of electrical shocks. Now, I feel I must be completely honest with you and tell you exactly what you are in for. These shocks will hurt, they will be painful. As you can guess, it is necessary that our shocks be intense. What we will do is put an electrode on your hand, hook you into an apparatus such as this, give you a series of shocks, and take various measures…. Again, I do want to be honest with you and tell you that these shocks will be quite painful but, of course, they will do no permanent damage.

In the “no fear” condition, the participants arrived at the lab and were greeted by Dr. Zilstein, but the electrical equipment was not displayed and Dr. Zilstein exhibited a much more pleasant, comforting demeanor. He said:

What we will ask each of you to do is very simple. We would like to give each of you a series of very mild electrical shocks. I assure you that what you will feel will not in any way be painful. It will resemble more a tickle than anything unpleasant. We will put an electrode on your hand, give you a series of very mild shocks and measure such things as your pulse rate, which I am sure you are all familiar with from visits to your family doctor.

In both conditions Dr. Zilstein added:

Before we begin with the shocking proper, there will be about a 10-minute delay while we get this room in order. We have several pieces of equipment to bring in and get set up…. Here is what we will ask you to do for this 10-minute period of waiting. We have on this floor a number of additional rooms so that each of you, if you would like, can wait alone in your own room. These rooms are comfortable and spacious; they all have armchairs, and there are books and magazines in each room. It did occur to us, however, that some of you might want to wait for these 10 minutes together with some of the other girls here. If you would prefer this, of course, just let us know. We’ll take one of the empty classrooms on the floor, and you can wait together with some of the other girls there.

The participants then stated whether they preferred waiting alone or waiting with others or had no preference. The researcher found that participants who were in the “fear” condition were much more likely to prefer to wait with other people than to wait alone, whereas the participants in the “no fear” condition showed no clear preference. The researcher concluded that fear led to the desire to affiliate.

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