Laboratory Exercises for Psychological Research Methods (PSY 311)

Spring, 2013

Glenn Geher (Instructor)

Please note that all lab assignments are due at the start of the following week’s laboratory session. Please see course syllabus for policies regarding late assignments.

Week of:

Laboratory Exercise Outline and Assignment Summary
1.22 Welcome to Lab!
1.29 Library Day!

A.  Learn Psychinfo in Lab

B.  Go to library – find three kinds of articles (Scale-Development, Experimental, Correlational)


ASSIGNMENT: Hand in copy of the three abstracts; briefly (in a 1-2 page paper) summarize WHY each article represents the specific kind of article addressed.

(2 points; graded)



IRB-related Lab Activities

A.  IRB overview; activity

B.  Human Subject certificates (follow instructions for “Collaborative IRB Training Initiative”)

ASSIGNMENT: Hand in a copy of certificate.

(2 points; pass(100%)/no-pass(0%))

2.11 Data entry – SPSS basics

ASSIGNMENT: Collect data and enter data for at least five variables (with at least one being continuous and at least one being categorical). Based on the information provided in the different records, you figure out which variables you want to include. Data should be collected on psychologists found at the Social Psychology Network site ( You should collect data from at least 100 psychologists. Submit a soft copy of your completely-entered data file.  

(2 points; pass(100%)/no-pass(0%))




2.18 Syntax files, recoding variables, and the computation of variables in SPSS.


ASSIGNMENT: Submit soft copy of data file that includes specified computed variables.

(2 points; pass(100%)/no-pass(0%))

 2.25 Prepare IRB materials / Animal Research Applications.


ASSIGNMENT:  Hand in complete IRB materials INCLUDING informed consent form, all materials that will be used in the research, and a debriefing form.  If you are doing animal research, complete animal research application form and hand in at next meeting.

(2 points; pass(100%)/no-pass(0%))





t-tests with SPSS

A.  Within-groups t-test: Jealousy data (mood across times)

B.  Between-groups t-test: Monica’s thesis data (sex differences)

C.  Between-groups t-test examining sex differences among college students in campus behavior.

ASSIGNMENT: Brief report summarizing results of non-obtrusive sex-difference study including hypothesis, methods, and results.

(2 points; graded)



 Assignment:  Write report summarizing novel factorial ANOVA that you conduct.

(2 points; graded;)


4.1  Correlation and Regression


ASSIGNMENT:  Collect data, conduct correlational and regression analyses, and write a report.

(2 points; graded)

4.8 Descriptive statistics with SPSS (on data set to be collected)

Including Frequencies, Descriptives, Histograms

A.  Statistics on variables from data set (perhaps from your research project)

B.  Statistics on variables measured during the lab.


ASSIGNMENT: Brief report summarizing variables measured in lab. (2 points; graded)

4.15 Help with Data Analysis / Writeup


4.22 Help with Data Analysis / Writeup
5/2 (was 4.29); DUE AT FINAL EXAM; due at final exam; 5/13; 10:15am Interjudge Agreement Day!

A fun laboratory exercise examining hypotheses pertaining to actual personal ads.

ASSIGNMENT: Submit a written summary of your personal ad study (include hypothesis, methodology, manner of dealing with issue of interjudge agreement, results, and discussion).

(2 points; graded)

5.6 Research Presentations! (5 points; ungraded)


Writing Tips


No papers with an abundance of the following errors will receive a grade of ‘A.’

1.  USUALLY affect is a verb and effect is a noun;

e.g., This variable affects several things.

e.g., That other variable produced a very large effect.

2.  If the subject of your sentence is singular, the verb and subsequent pronouns referring to the subject must be also:

e.g., The participant then provided HIS OR HER (NOT “THEIR”) background


e.g.,  The point of these studies WAS (NOT “WERE”) blah, blah, blah … (point is singular).

3.  NEVER use the word “PROVE” in a psychology article.  While psychologists do many things, proving is virtually never one of them.

INCORRECT: These results prove that Schmedley’s hypothesis was correct.

BETTER: These results support Schmedley’s hypothesis.

BETTER STILL: These results support the hypothesis that Schmedley should change his name … just kidding.

4.  BE SUCCINCT.  Do not use a lot of words to make a point if you can make the same point with fewer words.  If two papers make the same points, the one with fewer words is, by my definition, better.

BAD:  Asch’s research on conformity is very interesting because it includes interesting research and has important ideas that are very meaningful.

BETTER: Asch’s research on conformity is interesting for several reasons.

5.  AVOID 1st person and, especially, opinions (unless they are asked for).

BAD: I am writing a paper on conformity.  In this paper, I will talk about how social psychologists have studied conformity and why I am so interested in this interesting topic.

BETTER: This paper will address conformity as it has been studied in social psychology.


BAD: Subjects were asked if they’d administer an electric shock.

BETTER:  Subjects were asked if they would administer an electric shock.

7.         It’s means it is (but you should not be using contractions anyway).

             Its is a possessive pronoun referring to a noun that possesses something.

e.g., The frog grabbed the fly with its tongue.   (here its means the frog’s)

8.  Punctuation marks go INSIDE quotation marks (when at the end of the sentence).

BAD:  Then the experimenter said, “Oh Boy”.

BETTER:  Then the experimenter said, “Oh Boy.”

BETTER STILL:  Then the experimenter said, “Golly!”

9.  Always follow the word “this” with a specific noun.  Otherwise, your writing will be unclear.

BAD: Changes will be made at all levels of management.  The impact of this will be enormous.

BETTER: Changes will be made at all levels of management.  The impact of this restructuring will be enormous.

10.  i.e., means “in other words.”  e.g., means “for example.”

e.g., These people are thought to be cerebral in nature (i.e., they tend to think a lot).

e.g., Their diet includes several kinds of flowers (e.g., roses).

11.  Here are some helpful word substitutions for you:

Change from                                    to

looked at                                examined

got                                           obtained

did                                           conducted

12.  Only use the word “correlation” if you are referring to a specific relationship between two different variables.  Do not just throw this word around because it sounds good.

GOOD: A positive correlation was observed between number of hamburgers eaten and the size of one’s bellyache.

BAD: A correlation between these different ideas can be found.  (This sentence simply does not mean anything).