Ninth Edition CoverGraziano & Raulin
Research Methods (9th edition)

Examples of
Factorial Designs from
the Research Literature

Example #1

Dickson, K. L., & Miller, M. (2005).  Authorized crib cards do not improve exam performance. Teaching of Psychology, 32, 230-233.


These researchers studied the effects of student-created “crib cards” on multiple-choice exam performance and on student anxiety levels. Undergraduate students were allowed to create “crib cards” and use them during the examinations that included both higher order and lower order questions. For each of the four examinations, half of the students were randomly assigned to the crib card use condition and half to the no crib card use condition.  The percentage of correct answers on each exam constituted the data. An ANCOVA, with crib card use and question type (higher order and lower order) as factors and student GPA as a covariate, revealed no significant main effects for either crib card use or question type. However, the main effect of the covariate, student GPA, was significant.  

In a separate analysis, students rated on the final day of the course the effects of crib card use on their studying, test performance, and test anxiety. Less than 5% of the students rated the crib cards as having been “very helpful” for test performance, 46% as “somewhat helpful” and 49% as “not helpful.”  Sixty seven percent reported the crib cards had no effect on their studying, and 40% reported the crib cards seemed to have decreased their anxiety. Thus, the main findings were: crib card use did not improve test performance on either higher or lower order questions, did not affect students’ study habits, but may have helped reduce test anxiety for some (40%). The authors discuss the implications of their findings for test performance and for how students study for examinations.

Example #2

Strange, D., Hayne, H., & Garry, M. (2008). A photo, a suggestion, a false memory. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 22, 587-608. 


These researchers examined the susceptibility of children to simple suggestion and the resulting creation of false memories – that is, believing they had experienced something that actually had never happened.  Ten-year-olds were shown four photos, three of them were “true” and one was “false.” Half of the children saw a “false” photo of a hot air balloon, and half saw the balloon photo doctored to show the child and family in the balloon (the “false” photo). When asked about their memories of the scenes in the photos, the children in the false-photo family balloon condition reported remembering that family outing. Since that outing had never happened, they were reporting a false memory. The research suggests how easily false memories in children can be encouraged and the need to be cautious about using photos in child sexual abuse cases.

Example #3

King, L. A., & Napa, C. K. (1998). What makes a life good? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 156-165.


This study used a factorial design to investigate how factors, such as happiness with one's job, degree of meaning one obtains from one's job, and the amount of money one makes, affect the ratings from others of the person's desirability and moral goodness. Each subject was assigned the task of reading a career satisfaction questionnaire and rating the person who filled out the questionnaire on several dimensions. The questionnaires were all fictitious. They were prepared by the researcher to represent one of eight conditions, represented by a 2 (high vs. low happiness) X 2 (high vs. low meaning) X 2 ( high vs. low income). They found that the factors of happiness in one's job and the amount of meaning one derived from one's job influenced the ratings of desirability and moral goodness, but that income did not have an effect. Quality of life ratings were influenced by all three independent variables.

Example #4

Lee, A. Y., & Hutchison, L. (1998). Improving learning from examples through reflection. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 4, 187-210.


Case studies are often used to teach students in subjects like law, medicine, and business. A set of experiments was conducted to determine if the degree of elaboration and reflection of the examples helps students to learn the material. In one experiment, two factors were manipulated: the type of presentation of the material (case, augmented or strategy) and whether reflective questions were asked of the students. Main effects were found for both the type of presentation and whether reflective questions were asked. The more information given to students, the more they learned, and students tended to learn more when they were asked reflective questions that required active processing of the material by the student. No interaction was found.

Example #5

Simion, F., Valenza, E., Umilta, C., & Barba, B. D. (1998). Preferential orienting to faces in newborns: A temporal-nasal asymmetry. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance, 24, 1399-1405.


In a pair of mixed factorial experiments, newborn infants were presented with stimuli that resembled faces to differing degrees. In the first study, the within-subjects factor was the degree that the stimulus resembled a face and the between-subjects factor was whether the face-like figure was presented to the temporal hemifield (i.e., toward the right if viewed from the right eye only) or the nasal hemifield (i.e., toward the left if viewed from the right eye only). A main effect was found. Newborns preferentially oriented to face-like patterns as opposed to non-face-like patterns. However, this preference interacted with where the stimulus was presented. Newborns showed greatest preference for face-like patterns when they were presented to the temporal hemifield. These findings were consistent with the hypothesis that subcortical mechanisms were generally responsible for preferences for faces in newborns.

Example #6

Bernat, J. A., Calhoun, K. S., & Stolp, S. (1998). Sexually aggressive men's responses to a date rape analogue: Alcohol as a disinhibiting cue. The Journal of Sex Research, 35, 341-348.


This is a mixed factorial, with one factor manipulated and the other nonmanipulated. The nonmanipulated factor was the reported level of sexual aggressiveness of the male participants in the study. Aggressive males reported using coercion, both physical and verbal, to obtain sexual gratification. The non-aggressive males denied using such tactics in their sexual relationships. All participants listened to an audiotape date-rape analogue, where cues that the female did not want to consent gradually escalated over the course of the interaction. The experimental manipulation was whether the female was portrayed in the instructions as have been drinking heavily or not. Although the drinking condition had little impact on the perceptions of the non-aggressive males regarding the desires of the women portrayed in the audiotape, the aggressive males were far more likely to believe that ignoring the requests to stop was reasonable when the woman had been drinking.

Example #7

Jacoby, L. L. (1999). Ironic Effects of Repetition: Measuring age-related differences in memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology, Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 25, 3-22.


This was a series of studies. We will report on only the first of the studies. This was a factorial study, in which one factor was the age of the participant (young college students, older community residents who averaged 75 years old). The second factor was how quickly the participants had to respond. It was hypothesized that forcing older participants to respond to a memory task faster would disrupt their recollection process. Specifically, older adults were expected to confuse what words were in the original list to be learned and what words were not in the list, but were asked about during the testing procedure. Surprisingly, the data were contrary to the hypothesis.

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