Independent and Dependent Variables

Experiment Basics: We were introduced to the manipulated vs. measured variables. We also started to talk about operational definitions. From the lecture, we got a little more practice with these variables. we will discuss surveys and how to identify good surveys. The lecture will also specifically introduce you to the language used in experiments. More specifically, independent vs. dependent variables. This Milestone is worth 5% of grade.

For this assignment you should:
• Operationally define your IV.
o What is it?
o How will you manipulate it?
o Are you using a control group? Are you using a comparison group?
o Are you using one experimental group or more than one? Why?
• Operationally define your DV.
o What is it?
o How will you measure it?
 Self-report, behavioral, and/or physiological
 **If you are measuring your DV through self-report, then you must find a published measure (see Chapter 6 in your textbook).

Additional details:
• Describe your IV and DV in detail.
• If you are distributing questionnaires, they need to be provided. We will talk about surveys in Chapter 6. You might want to look ahead.
o Is it valid and reliable?
• If you are testing participants on a word list, please include the list.
• If you are presenting images to your participants, provide some examples.
• If you are using a brain scan, briefly describe the specific equipment.
• If you are exposing participants to a “scenario” or “task”, it should be briefly explained.
• If you are examining a psychological disorder, make sure you assess it appropriately. Self-reports are normally used to do this.
o Is it valid and reliable?

Remember to cite your sources and where the information is coming from.

Prof. R.’s Example

My research topic is: Different Stress Levels effect on Coping Styles

Please know… it would be nice to be this detailed, however your research study may not need to be this detailed. I am just providing you my example, so you can follow and know what is needed…

IV: stress levels
• Operational definition: Stress levels were defined at No stress, Low-Stress, and High-Stress. The different levels were taken from the Holmes-Rahe stress scale.
No Stress group: No stressor provided
Low: Going on Vacation
High: Being Fired from your Job
• Briefly, The Holmes-Rahe Stress Scale is a tiered stress scale that consists of numerous stressful situations. Each stressor is scaled between 1-100, where one was associated with almost no stress and 100 with extreme stress. The participant will be randomly exposed one of the two stressors.

• The IV will be manipulated by being exposed to one of the two previously stated stressors or nothing at all, which are the comparison groups. I thought having different stress groups, experimental, would be very interesting, because I wondered, “What would happen if the stress level increased?”
• None versus Low versus High Stressor Levels
o In each stressor level the participants will be provided an information packet, which they will need to fill out.
o In the no stressor group:
 This packet will contained no scenario, so there is no initiating of any stress to the participant.
 The scenario will include the following:
• You are relaxing.
• Today is your day off and you do not have to do anything.
o In the low stressor group:
 This packet will contain a scenario related to the lowest stressor: Going on vacation.
 The scenario is the following:
• You and your friends are going on a vacation. You need to make sure you have all of the following complete and ready for your 9 am flight tomorrow morning:
o Pack all required clothes for a seven day trip to California.
o Pack toiletries for seven days
o Make sure all items in your luggage and carry-on are TSA acceptable.
o Print out your boarding pass
o Set your alarm, because you need to get to the airport two hours earlier than the flight
o Make sure transportation is available and on time.
o Any and all medications need to be packed
o ID and wallet cannot be forgotten
o If needed, bring a book to read in the airport as well as plane
o Pack all needed electronics
o Pack all plugs and power cords for electronics
o Charge phone and extra battery the night before
• You wake up the following morning at 5:30 am and start to get ready:
o You take a shower
o Do you hair
o Brush your teeth
o Do all of your essentials
o Get dressed
• You must then make sure all of these essentials, which are needed are packed.
• You make yourself breakfast.
• Call your mode of transportation to make sure they are on time
• You go over all of the items that are needed…
o Wallet/ID
o Boarding Pass
o Luggage
o Carry-on
o Phone
• Transportation is here and other friends have been picked up before you, so it is a little chaotic…
• You go over all of the items again… checking and rechecking…

o In the high stressor group:
 The packet will contain a scenario that is related to the highest stressor: Getting fired from a job.
 The scenario will contain the following:
• You have worked all week long and it almost the weekend… 4:45 pm on a Friday.
• The Human Resource Manager calls you into his/her office.
• You walk to and into the office.
• You are offered the chair opposite the H.R. Manager.
• After you take your seat, your direct supervisor walks in and sits in the seat next to you.
• The H.R. Manager proceeds to explain that:
o You have been working here for four years.
o Your last evaluation was satisfactory
o Since that evaluation, your performance has decreased
o He/She proceeds to explain that lately your work ethic was not up to the company’s standard acceptable level.
• The H.R. Manager then states that they will be terminating your employment.
• This same H.R. Manager then follows you to your cubicle with an empty box.
• He/She watches you as you pack all of your personal belongings into this box.
• You grab your box and are followed to the front door where the H.R. Manager wishes you luck in your future endeavors and says good-bye.
 As you walk to your car, you realize you do not have a job to go to on the following Monday.
 You now have to find a new job…
• Groups:
o Experimental group 1: Low stress: Vacation
o Experimental group 2: High stress: Getting Fired from a job
o Control group: No stress: Relaxation

DV: Coping Mechanisms
• This variable measured the coping behaviors that are selected by the participants.
• This measure is included in the packet that was provided to the participants at the start of the research session.
• The participants, after reading the stress or no stress scenarios, are asked to complete the following questions.
• These questions were taken from the COPE inventory
o Carver, C. S., Scheier, M. F., & Weintraub, J. K. (1989). Assessing coping strategies: A theoretically based approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56, 267-283.
o The COPE Inventory is a multidimensional coping inventory to assess the different ways in which people respond to stress.
 Five scales (of four items each) measure conceptually distinct aspects of problem-focused coping (active coping, planning, suppression of competing activities, restraint coping, seeking of instrumental social support)
 Five scales measure aspects of what might be viewed as emotion-focused coping (seeking of emotional social support, positive reinterpretation, acceptance, denial, turning to religion)
 Three scales measuring coping responses that arguably are less useful (focus on and venting of emotions, behavioral disengagement, mental disengagement).
o Cronbach’s alpha for the 15 scales of COPE ranged from .37 to .93.
 With the exception of mental disengagement, the remainder of the alphas were all above .59, with the majority above .70.
 The average alpha was .79.

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