PSYCHOLOGY: Important Experiments to Learn

The experiment topics will include: 

-Eye Contact

-Facial Expressions


-Personal Space

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  • Created on: 12-11-15 20:03

Eye Contact

Eye contact is when two people in conversation are looking at each others' eyes at the same time.

Experiments including eye contact are:

-Kendon (1967) 

-Argyle (1968)

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Kendon (1967)

Aim: To see how eye movements affect the flow of the conversation.

Method: Pairs of participants were asked to get acquainted. Their conversations were secretly watched by observers through a one-way mirror system.

Results: As one person was about to speak, they looked away from the other person, briefly avoiding eye contact. Then they would give the other person's face a prolonged look when they were about to finish what they were saying.When the speaker gave the prolonged look, it seemed to indicate that the other person could begin to speak. If the prolonged look didn't happen, there was a pause in the conversation.

Conclusion: Eye movements signal turn taking in conversation

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Creating an evaluation

An exam paper may ask for an evaluation of an experiment. The easiest way to create an evaluation is to pick out the strengths and weaknesses of an experiment.

For example, the Kendon experiment:

WEAKNESS- lacks ecological validity

STRENGTH- it is an easy experiment to replicate

These are just a few of the possible evaluations that could be made.

Try to make your own evaluations for the rest of the evaluations.

Ecoloical Validity- like a real-life situation

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Argyle (1968)

Aim: To see how interpreting eye contact affects conversation.

Method: Pairs of participants were observed having conversations. In half the conversations, one of the participants wore dark glasses so that the other could not recieve eye contact.

Results: When one of the participants wore dark glasses, there were more pauses and interruptions than when dark glasses were not worn.

Conclusion: Eye contact is important in ensuring a smooth, flowing conversation.

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Personal Space

Personal Space is the distance between ourselves and the people in our everyday lives.

The experiments on personal space that are needed are:

-Argyle and Dean (1965)

-Williams (1971)

-Willis (1966)

-Summer (1969)

-Zahn (1991)

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Argyle and Dean (1965)

Aim: To see if sex differences affect personal space.

Method: One at a time, participants were asked to sit and have a conversation with another person who was actually a confederate of the experimenter. Sometimes the confederate was the same sex as the participant and at other times the confederate was of the opposite sex. The confederate sat at different distances from the participant and continually looked into the participant's eyes.

Results: The participant's tended to break eye contact with the confederate of the opposite sex at a greater distance apart than when the confederate was of the same sex. Argyle and Dean thought that this was the point at which personal space was being invaded.

Conclusion: We prefer to have a greater amount of personal space between ourselves and members of the opposite sex during normal conversation.

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Williams (1971)

Aim: To see if personality has an effect on personal space.

Method: College students were given personality tests to see if they were extrovert (outgoing and sociable) or introvert (quiet and reserved). They were then sent to an office one by one to receive their college grades from a tutor. The researchers noted where they chose to sit in the office when receiving their grades.

Results: Introverts sat further away from the tutor than extroverts.

Conclusion: Whether someone is extrovert or introvert will affect their use of personal space. 

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Willis (1966)

Aim: To see if age has an effect on personal space .

Method: Willis observed almost 800 individuals in different social situations.

Results: Those he observed tended to stand closer to people their own age and further away from people who were wither very much older or younger than themselves.

Conclusion: Age difference affects how close people will stand to one another.

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Summer (1969)

Aim: To see if there are cultural differences in the use of personal space.

Method: Summer observed groups of white English people and groups of Arab people in conversation.

Results: The comfortable conversation distance for the white English people was 1-1.5m whereas the comfortable conversation distance for the Arab people was much less than that.

Conclusion: The use of personal space in normal conversation varies with culture.

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Zahn (1991)

Aim: To see if status has an effect on personal space.

Method: Zahn observed people of equal status approaching each other to have a conversation . He also observed people of unequal status approaching each other.

Results: Zahn found that people of lower status did not approach higher-status people with the same degree of closeness as those of equal status.

Conclusion: Personal space varies with status.

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Emotions and Facial Expressions

Emotions are strong feeling deriving from one's circumstances, mood or realtionships with others.

Facial expressions are a form of non-verbal communication.

Experiments involving emotions and facial expressions are:

-Hess (1963)

-Sackeim (1978)

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Hess (1963)

Aim: To see the effect pupil dilation has on emotions.

Method: Participants were shown two nearly identical pictures of the same girl and asked which picture was more attractive. The only difference between the two pictures was that, in one of them, the girl's pupils were dilated, and the other picture they were not.

Results: The majority of participants said that the picture of the girl with dilated pupils was more attractive. Strangely though, they could not say why they thought that.

Conclusion: Pupil dilation has an unconscious but powerful effect on emotion.

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Sackeim (1978)

Aim: To look at the realtionship between facial expressions and the hemispheres of the brain.

Method: Pictures of people's faces showing different different emotions were cut down the middle. New pictures were created with each half face and its mirror image. Then each pair of new faces was shown to participants. They were asked which picture they liked better.

Results: The majority of participants said they preferred the picture of the left half face and its reflection. When asked why, they said the person in the picture looked 'warmer'.

Conclusion: The left side of the face seems to express more emotions than the right side.

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Conformity is a type of social influence involving a change in belief or behaviour in order to fit in with a group.

Conformity was included in the experiments:

-Sherif (1935)

-Asch (1951)

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Sherif (1935)

Aim: To discover the effect on judgement on listening to other people.

Method: He asked participants to estimate how far a spot of light moved when they were sitting in an otherwise completely dark room. In fact the light didn't move at all, but owing to an optical illusion called the autokinetic effect it did appear to.

Results: Individually the participants gave a variety of estimates, which differed quite widely from each other's. However, after being allowed to undertake the same tasks in groups of three, their estimates became more similar until finally they were very close.

Conclusion: The participants used other people's opinions to help them form a judgement in an ambiguous situation.

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Asch (1951)

Aim: Asch wanted to know whether people could be influenced by other people's opinions to give an answer they knew to be wrong. In this way it would be possible to see if people were conforming.

Method: Particpants were shown sets of four lines. For each set, the participant had to say whether line A, B or C was the same as the test line. When tested alone, the participants rarely made a mistake (the error rate was less than 1 per cent). However, particpants also had to give their answers as part of a group.The rest of the group was instructed to give incorrect answers for some of the tests.

Results: On 32 per cent of the trials where the rest of the group gave the wrong answer, the participants gave the same wrong answer as the rest of the group, rather than the obviously correct answer. In fact 74 per cent of the participants gave at least one wrong answer.

Conclusion: The participants who gave incorrect answers knew they were wrong.

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