Design of a Psychological Experiment


Psyc 100 (0110-0129) Fall,
1996 Dr. Sternheim
Report #1 (10 points)

Problem: Suppose you are a psychologist who is interested in the effects of
caffeine on the eye-hand coordination of students enrolled at UMCP. Design an
experiment to test the hypothesis that caffeine enhances a student\'s ability to
hit a baseball. Describe your experiment by answering the following questions:

1) What are the independent and dependent variables? The independent variable
would be the caffeine. The results of the students\' hitting of the baseball
would be the dependent variable.

2) What are the experimental conditions and what are the tasks for the
experimenter, the participants in your experiment, and any other people you
might ask to help? The experimental conditions would be the same for all
participants, probably in an indoor stadium so the weather won\'t affect the
students. The task for the experimenter would be to make sure to have a control
group, to have a wide variety and different types of participants, to make sure
all participants use the same equipment, and have controlled amounts of caffeine.
The tasks for the participants would be to carefully follow the instructions of
the experimenter, that is to hit the baseball.

3) Will you treat all the participants in the same way? No, I would not treat
all the participants in the same way. The control group would not be given
caffeine. However, I would treat all experimental groups the same because that
will give more accurate results. If the participants were not treated the same
I would not be able to accurately measure how much or how little the caffeine
affected the students.

4) How will you select the participants of your study so that they are
representative of the students enrolled at UMCP? I would randomly chose
participants of different ethnic groups, ages, weights, and sexes.

5) What factors must be controlled when using the experimental method in this
manner? The factors that must be controlled in this experiment would be the
amount of caffeine consumed, the equipment used (must have same bat and
baseball), and the environment in which they will perform their assigned task.
The environment should be indoors so that weather will not affect the results.

6) Suppose your experiment provided evidence that caffeine enhances eye-hand
coordination. Would it be reasonable to expect, based on your results, that a
pilot would be better able to land an airplane if given caffeine? No, since
landing a plane and hitting a baseball are two very different skills. Landing a
plane requires more skill and the side effects of caffeine which are not evident
in the above experiment might show up in a pilot. Caffeine may cause some
people to become nervous and shake and that would not help a pilot land a plane.
The only way to find out would be to setup and experiment about the effects of
caffeine on pilot landing planes.

Category: Science