Research Methods

Identifying Variables from Journal Titles
Barney Beins


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You can often identify the independent and dependent variables from the titles of journal articles. Sometimes you can guess how they operationalize their variables, but not always. Based on the references below, identify the variables. In some cases, there may not be true independent variabales. Identify those situations and say why the apparent IVs are not true IVs. Also, figure out how you would operationalize the variables so you could do a study like the one identified here.

Solmon, M. A. (1996). Impact of motivational climate on students' behaviors and perceptions in a physical education setting. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88, 731-738.

Manucia, G. K., Baumann, D. J., & Cialdini, R. B. (1984). Mood influences on helping: Direct effects or side effects? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46, 357-364.

Reinitz, M. T., Morrisey, J., & Demb, J. (1994). Role of attention in face encoding. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 20, 161-168.

Kraus, N. (1987). Chronic financial strain, social support, and depressive symptoms among older adults. Psychology and Aging, 2, 185-192.

Murphy, C. & Cain, W. S. (1986). Odor identification: The blind are better. Physiology and Behavior, 371, 177-180.

Wells, G. L., & Bradfield, A. L. (1999). Distortions in eyewitnesses' recollections: Can the postidentification-freeback effect be moderated? Psychological Science, 10, 138-144.


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Solmon, M. A. (1996). Impact of motivational climate on students' behaviors and perceptions in a physical education setting. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88, 731-738.

Goal theory asserts that a task-involved climate is more effective in generating persistent attempts to complete tasks than is an ego-oriented climate. Students in eighth and ninth grade physical education classes experienced either task-involved or ego-oriented climates; the researcher monitored the number of practice attempts that students in each condition tried. Students in a task-involved climate attempted more practice trials at a difficult level than did those in the ego- involved setting.

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Manucia, G. K., Baumann, D. J., & Cialdini, R. B. (1984). Mood influences on helping: Direct effects or side effects? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46, 357-364.

Research has revealed that engaging in helpful behavior improves one's mood. These researchers put participants in a negative mood by asking them to generate distressing memories; participants in a neutral mood condition recalled the path they had taken to get to the research study.

All students then drank a cup of "memory drug" called Mnemoxine. (No such drug actually exists; it was merely flat tonic water.) The researchers then informed some people that the drug would have no effect on mood; others learned that the drug would "fix" their mood for a short period and that their mood would not change during the course of the experiment.

At one point, a confederate of the experimenter asked the participants to make phone calls to help with a blood drive. The researchers measured the percentage of students in each group who agreed to make the phone calls.

The results revealed that participants in a negative mood state who thought that their mood might change were far more likely to agree to make phone calls. Those in the neutral mood condition who thought their mood would change were least likely to help. Those who thought that their moods would not change were equally likely to help, regardless of their mood state.

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Reinitz, M. T., Morrisey, J., & Demb, J. (1994). Role of attention in face encoding. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 20, 161-168.

The research participants in this study studied line drawings of faces that were similar to the kinds of sketches that police artists might use. Some participants could devote full attention to studying the faces. Other participants' attention was divided because they were instructed to count dots that were superimposed on the faces.

During testing, the participants tried to decide if they had seen faces before. The test faces were either "old" (i.e., previously seen), "new" (i.e., not seen before), "partial" (i.e., some features from a face they had seen on a face with otherwise new features), or "conjunction" (i.e., a combination of features from more than one face, like the eyes from one and the mouth from another).

The results showed that recognition of "old" faces was better for the full attention group. That is, those participants could differentiate "old" and "new" faces better than the divided attention participants. Further, for the divided attention group, the percentage of the time that they thought they had already seen the "old" and the "conjunction" faces was equal. This group could not differentiate between a face that they had seen and a face that had mixed features from previously seen faces.

In the "partial" and "new" conditions, there was not much false recognition; that is, participants did not tend to say that they had seen these faces before. In each case, though, the divided attention group had more false recognitions.

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Kraus, N. (1987). Chronic financial strain, social support, and depressive symptoms among older adults. Psychology and Aging, 2, 185-192.

The researcher wanted to know whether chronic financial strain predicted depressive symptoms in the elderly and whether the presence of social support ameliorates (i.e., improves) the situation. He found that the incidence of symptoms of depression is higher among the older adults who experienced chronic financial problems. Higher levels of emotional support by others were not related to the lower symptoms nor did tangible support like money to help relieve the financial pressure relate to symptomology. At the same time, the availability of information to help work through problems was associated with lower levels of depressive symptoms.

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>Murphy, C. & Cain, W. S. (1986). Odor identification: The blind are better. Physiology and Behavior, 371, 177-180.

These researchers blindfolded a group of sighted people and a group of blind people. Each group then tried to identify everyday odors like cigareet butts (what fun!), cloves, and baby powder. Blind individuals showed a 31 percent advantage over sighted people, about 42 percent recognition for the blind and 32 percent for the sighted.

This advantage accrued for the blind even though they showed lower sensitivity than those with sight. The researchers suggested that the adaptive value of smell recognition in the blind is a stimulus for them to increase their abilities, even if their overall sensitivity to smell may be worse than that of others.

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Wells, G. L., & Bradfield, A. L. (1999). Distortions in eyewitnesses' recollections: Can the postidentification-freeback effect be moderated? Psychological Science, 10, 138-144.

The researchers were interested in whether the feedback given to eyewitnesses affects their confidence in making identifications. The participant-eyewitnesses looked at a crime scenario and identified suspects in a lineup, then gave information about their level of confidence in their identification.

The experimenters assigned participants to different conditions. Participants in the no thought/no feedback condition served as the control condition. They saw the lineup and then identified suspects. In the no thought/confirming feedback condition, the researcher told the participants they had identified the correct suspect in a lineup. In the prior thought/no feedback condition, the researcher told the participants after viewing a lineup to think about how well they could see the "crime", how well they generally remembered faces, and other questions about their abilities to see and remember the crime scene. In the prior thought/feedback condition, the researcher asked the participant to think about viewing conditions, how well they saw the suspect, etc., then gave them feedback that they had identified the correct suspect in the lineup. Finally, in the subsequent thought/confirming feedback condition, the researcher gave the participants feedback that they correctly identified the suspect, then afterward the researchers gave the participants instructions to think about viewing conditions, etc.

At the end of the study, participants answered questions about their confidence levels in making identifications of the suspect. The results indicated that participants who thought about how well they could see the crime and suspect, and who received feedback that they had correctly identified the criminal showed greater confidence in their judgments than did participants in the control condition.

 


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This page is maintained by Barney Beins, Dept. of Psychology, Ithaca College, Ithaca NY 14850-7290

This page was last updated on November 15, 1999.