Research Methods

Design Identification

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1. Identify the design (e.g., 2x2 design). How many independent variables are there and how many levels does each one have?
2. Identify the total number of conditions.
3. Identify the manipulated variable(s), that is, the true independent variables.
4. Are there any measured (participant) variables? If so, identify these correlational variables.
5. Is this a repeated measures design? If so, identify the repeated variable(s).
6. Identify the dependent variable(s).

Strayer, D. L., & Johnston, W. A.(2001). Driven to distraction: Dual-task studies of simulated driving and conversing on a cellular phone. Psychological Science, 12, 462-466.

Two psychologists wanted to know if cell phone use might impair a person’s ability to operate an automobile. They asked participants to use a joystick to move a cursor across a course on a video screen and to press a button whenever they say a red light appear on the screen. This task was supposed to simulate what people do during driving.

The participants were randomly assigned to conditions in which they listened to the radio (a station of their choice), communicated with a confederate by means of a hand-held cell phone, or communicated with a confederate by means of a hands-free cell phone. The participants engaged in the tracking task for 7.5 minutes, then engaged in a dual task of the tracking while engaged in a conversation with a confederate of the experimenter with the radio playing, by a hand-held phone, or by a hands-free phone.

The researchers discovered that most participants detected all of the red lights; the percentage of the time that they missed the signal was small. The participants using cell phones were significantly slower in responding to the signal when engaged in conversation than when they were only doing the tracking task. This was not true for the participants listening to the radio, who performed with equal speed in spotting the red light, regardless of whether they were listening to the radio or listening to the radio while conversing.

Based on this study and a related experiment they conducted, the investigators concluded that operating a cell phone while driving is likely to lead to poorer driving. It doesn’t matter if the cell phone is hands-held or hands-free. Listening to the radio did not affect performance.


Soto, J. A., Perez, C. R., Kim, Y., Lee, E. A., & Minnick, M. R. (2011). Is expressive suppression always associated with poorer psychological functioning? A cross-cultural comparison between European Americans and Hong Kong Chinese. Emotion, 11(6), 1450-1455. doi:10.1037/a0023340

Psychologists have found that when people work to suppress their emotions, their psychological health is not as good as when they recognize and express their emotions. Several reports have discovered "increased sympathetic arousal, decreased experience of positive emotions, increased experience of negative emotions, disturbed interpersonal interactions, increased reports of depressed mood, and decreased reports of well-being and life satisfaction (Butler et al., 2003; Gross & John, 2003; Gross & Levenson, 1993, 1997; John & Gross, 2004)" when people do not express their emotions (Soto et al., 2011, p. 1450).

Soto et al. (2011) measured the degree to which students in the United States and students in Hong Kong suppressed expression of emotions and how it relates to psychological functioning, including a measure of life satisfaction and a measure of depression. They classified students in the two cultural groups as either being low, medium, or high in emotional suppression. Then the researchers looked at whether there were differences across the two cultural samples among those low, medium, and highg in suppression when it came to life satisfaction and to a self-reported measure of depression.

The results revealed that greater emotional suppression was associated with higher depression scores and lower life satisfaction scores among U.S. students, but there was no difference among Hong Kong students.

QUESTION: WHY CAN YOU NOT DRAW ANY CAUSAL CONCLUSIONS FROM THIS STUDY, EVEN THOUGH THE FINDINGS MAY BE STATISTICALLY SIGNIFICANT AND RELIABLE?


Bigler, R. S., Averhart, C. J., & Liben, L. S. (2003). Race and the workforce: Occupational status, aspirations, and stereotyping among African-American children. Developmental Psychology, 39, 572-580.

A group of psychologists investigated perceptions of African-American children about different occupations. The researchers presented the children with a set of occupations that the researchers classified as being of low, medium, and high status and asked the children to rate them according to how important the occupation was. In addition to reactions as a function of job status, the researchers were also interested in whether younger (6-7 years) and older (11-12 years) differed in their responses. Further, the investigators wanted to know if children from low versus high socioeconomic status differed in their responses.

The researchers presented 39 different occupations to the children and obtained ratings for each job, computing the average rating for each condition. The results indicated that the children attributed lower status to occupations associated with African-American workers compared to those of European ancestry.

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Last updated March 26, 2012