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

Examples of Studies Using 
Independent-Groups Designs

Example # 1

Elliot, A. S., & Niesta, D. (2008). Romantic red: Red enhances men’s attraction to women. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 3495-3514.


In a series of five experiment using independent-groups designs, the researchers examined the hypothesized effects of the color red on men’s perceptions of women. In each study, the participants were shown a photograph of a woman. While the woman depicted remained the same, the background color was varied across different conditions. Thus, independent groups comparisons were made for red background vs. backgrounds that were white, gray, blue, or green. After a brief view (5 seconds) of the picture, each participant assessed the woman shown for (general) attractiveness, intelligence, likeability, kindness, and several measures of sexual desirability. In one of the five experiments, a small sample of women also assessed the attractiveness of the women shown. The participants included 172 men and 32 women, all college undergraduates.

The researchers found statistically significant effects of the color red on men’s perceptions of sexual attractiveness of women. Interestingly, the color red had no effect on women evaluating other women or on men’s evaluation of women’s nonsexual attributes, such as intelligence, likeability, or kindness. The results provide strong support for the hypothesized “red effect.” Even a brief (5-second) glimpse of red enhances men’s attraction to women. Similar results have been reported for other animals. The researchers discuss their results and implications for studies in interpersonal and sexual attraction. 

Example #2

Davis, B. P., & Knowles, E. S. (1999). A disrupt-then-reframe technique of social influence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76, 192-199.


This paper describes a series of studies. We will describe only the first in this summary. The purpose of the study was to investigate the subtleties of sales pitches and the factors that contribute to their success. A research assistant went door-to-door selling greeting cards with a standard sales pitch. At the end of the standard sales pitch, the price was presented in three different ways depending on which condition the household had been randomly assigned. In the first condition, the price was listed as $3.00. In the second condition, the price was listed as $3.00, but the salesperson commented on how that was a bargain. Finally, in the third condition, the sales price was initially listed as 300 pennies and later was listed as $3.00. The hypothesis was that listing the price initially as 300 pennies (an unusual designation for a $3.00 price) would disrupt the customers' normal processing of the sales pitch, thus allowing the salesperson to have a greater impact on them. They found that by listing the price as 300 pennies initially, they almost double the number of customers who decided to buy at least one box of cards.

Example #3

Echabe, A. E., & Castro, J. L. G. (1999). Group discussion and changes in attitudes and representations. The Journal of Social Psychology, 139, 29-43.


The authors wanted to investigate the effectiveness of group discussion in shaping the attitudes of those involved in the discussion. They randomly assigned 310 college students to one of three conditions. The first condition was a discussion group, where people were instructed to argue for "equal rights for men and women in the workplace." The second condition was a discussion group in which people were instructed to argue for "women should leave their jobs and return home if there is a high unemployment rate." The third condition was a control in which participants were not a part of a discussion group. The discussion groups ranged in size from 8 to 10 people to permit each person to be a part of the discussion. The authors found that group discussion did affect attitudes as measured immediately after the discussion.

Example #4

Lan, W., Repman, J., & Chyung, S. (1998). Effects of practicing self-monitoring of mathematical problem-solving heuristics on impulsive and reflective college students' heuristic knowledge and problem-solving ability. The Journal of Experimental Education, 67, 32-52.


The authors investigated the impact of a program designed to increase the level of self-monitoring in a group of graduate students taking an advanced course in statistics. The ability to monitor one's learning and to further monitor the pattern of problem solving one is using is associated with much better performance in a variety of cognitive tasks. Students were randomly assigned to three experimental conditions: a general self-monitoring program, a step-by-step self-monitoring program, and a control group with no training in self-monitoring. They found that both self-monitoring programs increased performance immediately after the program. Unfortunately, the impact of these programs appear to be brief, because the group differences had disappeared by follow-up.

Example #5

Lassiter, G. D., Geers, A.L., Munhall, P. J., Ploutz-Snyder, R. J., Breitenbecher, D. L. (2002). Illusory causation: Why it occurs. Psychological Science, 13, 299-305.


This paper presents four studies of illusory causation. This is the phenomenon in which people erroneously ascribe causality to some stimulus just because it is more noticeable or salient than others. In the second experiment in this study,  83 participants were asked to assume the role of jurors and view a videotape of an interview between a burglary suspect and a detective. The videotape showed the suspect confessing to the burglary. After viewing the tape the participants used  rating scales to judge how voluntary the confession was. The confession was videotaped by two cameras, one focused primarily on the suspect and the other focused primarily on the detective (both videotaping the same scene at the same time). The experimental manipulation was the camera view that was presented to the participants and thus the saliency of the two persons (i.e., the suspect is most salient in the tape or the detective is most salient in the tape). An equal number of participants were assigned to each condition. The dependent variable was the ratings on 9-point rating scales of three questions: the degree to which the confession was coerced; the degree to which it was voluntary, and whether it was given freely by the suspect or forced by the detective. These ratings were combined into a single score of how voluntary the confession was judged to be.  The ANOVA results showed  illusory causality;  that is, participants' judgments of how voluntary the confession was were significantly altered by the cameras' perspective. Those viewing the suspect-focused tape judged the confession to be significantly more voluntary than did those viewing the detective-focused tape.   

TO THE STUDENT: These findings are of considerable theoretical and research interest; but what do you think might be some important implications for how the criminal justice system records and uses such taped confessions?.    

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