Excersise 12 – Social Experiments

In this Exercise, you will first take part in a social-psychological experiment and then write about the experience.
I would like for you to now visit the Perception Lab at the University of  St Andrews in Fife, Scotland. In this lab, they  investigate the many facets of face perception… What makes one person appear more trustworthy and cooperative than another? What is the relationship between health and attractiveness, and which physiological factors influence this relationship? How big do differences between facial characteristics have to be for us to perceive them?
Go to the Trustworthiness Perception Test at http://www.perceptionlab.com/expt/Milena/at_trust/test.phpInformed Consent
Note this experiment begins with an informed consent form.

Why was this necessary?
What were the elements of the form?
How did they obtain consent?
Were there any risks involved?
How did they protect the identity of participants?

This experiment was conducted in Scotland, were there any differences in the consent process from the one you learned in the CITI training?

Experimental Design

Experiments are common in psychology. They are useful because of their high degree of internal validity. They are structured to rule out alternative explanations and spurious relationships and leave the researcher with a clear causal relationship between the IV and DV.

Describe the procedure for this experiment?

What do you think were the dependent variables under consideration?
reveal>> According to the researchers, facial feature relate to human behavior. They asked you to determine which image you felt was more trustworthy. So, trustworthiness is the dependent variable.

In other words, what characteristics were being manipulated?

reveal>>> As you looked at the images, did you notice how the faces were changed ever so slightly? The eyes were slightly further apart and the shape of the face was slightly wider. This is called bizygomatic width. Notice that they also used both male and female faces.

As you’ve read in the Babbie text, the best experimental design includes a comparison between a test group and a control group. Who could be the control group in this case?

reveal>> If the investigators are interested in male facial width, then the control would be female facial width. Likewise,  they would test female facial width

What do you think these characteristics (width of face and sex of person) might have to do with trustworthiness?

reveal>> According to the researchers, facial feature relate to human behavior. They have found that men with wider faces are perceived to be less trustworthy and more exploitative. They also found that male facial width is related to male decisions “to collaborate for mutual financial gain or to exploit others for greater personal gain.”  If you are interested in this topic, read more at: Stirrat, M, and Perrett, D I. Valid facial cues to cooperation and trust: Male facial width and trustworthiness. Psychological Science 21(3) 349-354 (2010). doi: 10.1177/0956797610362647

So, If the shape and sex of the face were the independent variables being manipulated. What other, variables did they collect?

HINT>>What demographic information did they collect from you?

So, what possible research questions or hypotheses could be driving this study where we have a dependent variable of trustworthiness and independent variable of male (or female) facial width as well as some demographic variables for the observers?

Reveal>> There are many possibilities. For example, one hypothesis could be that female observers may be more trusting of males with narrower faces than are male observers…

Now go to the list of other online experiments at http://perception.st-andrews.ac.uk/WEBPAGE/Participate/Participate.html and choose one more.

Was there a consent procedure? Why or why not? What were the procedures for this experiment? What were the variables under consideration? What was the control group? What  information did they collect? What are possible research questions or hypotheses of the study?

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