The study took place within 'a nursing home, which was rated by the state of Connecticut as being among the finest care units and offering quality medical, recreational and residential facilities.' The home was large and modern in design, appearing cheerful and comfortable as well as clean and efficient.
There were four floors in the home, whereby two were selected for the study. There two floors were chosen due to the similarity in the residents physical and psychological health and prior socioeconomic status. The majority had been at the home for approximately the same length of time. Participants had already been allocated to their rooms and floor, this was done according to availability and was not manipulated for the purposes of the study.
The two experimental conditions and number of participants were:
1) Responsibility induced group (4th floor)- 39 females, 8 males
2) Comparison group (1st floor)- 35 females, 9 males
The independent variable was the degree of responsibility allocated to the residents. To introduce the experimental treatment, the nursing home administrator who interacts with the residents daily called a meeting in the lounge on each floor. He delivered a different message to each group.
The responsibility induced group heard this:
"Take responsibility for caring for yourself, deciding whether or not you want this to be a home you can be proud of and happy in....how you want to spend your free time...etc" …