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

Research Design Checklist Exercises

The best way to learn any complex skill is to practice it in real life situations. If you are designing your own study for class, the research design checklist will provide you with a guide to the design process, and the work on designing your study will provide practice in using the research design checklist. If you are not developing your own research study as part of the class, we have outlined several potential research studies below that could be designed. 

We encourage you to work on designing all of the elements of these proposed studies by using the research design checklist to guide your decisions. Remember that everything covered in the research design checklist was previously covered in the text. If you cannot remember the details on a particular topic, check out the table of contents or index for the text to find the details. 

This website also provides information on more advanced topics that were not covered in the text itself. Check the index for the website (click on Index on the menu bar) to see if there are units on topics of interest to you.

In our description of the hypothetical studies below, we give a general outline of the research question and the procedures. You will need to supply specific details for many items yourself. There is no one correct answer for these exercises, although there are clearly bad choices.

  1. In the first hypothetical study, we are interested in looking at the effects of using a cell phone while driving on the safety of the driving. We will look at existing information to see if there are more accidents reported by those individuals who own and use cell phones. Drivers may not always report that their cell phone use contributed to an accident, because such a report might increase their liability. Therefore, we will look at the accident rates for drivers who do not own a cell phone and those who do own and use a cell phone using data from the Division of Motor Vehicles and customer lists from the various cell phone companies. [Note that with an archival study like this one, many of the elements of the research design checklist will be irrelevant.]

  2. We are interested in studying the willingness of people to make a concession in a simulated negotiation session as a function of the behavior of the person they are negotiating with. To control the behavior of the negotiation partner, we decide to use a confederate to act as if he or she is just another participant in the study. The confederate works for the researcher, and he will behave according to three carefully prepared scripts, depending on the condition that the actual participant in the study is randomly assigned to. The actual participants believe that they are paired randomly with another participant and do not realize that their partners actually work for the researcher. The main dependent measure is whether the participant makes a concession, and if so, how big a concession it is. Additional dependent measures include how satisfied the participant is with the outcome of the negotiation, how fair they thought the negotiation was, how much they liked their partner, and whether they would do anything differently if they had to negotiate the same thing with a different partner. The three conditions are (1) no concession by confederate, (2) a concession by the confederate after some negotiation, with a call for a reciprocal concession by their partner, (3) an immediate concession by the confederate, with no specific call for a reciprocal concession by their partner.

  3. In a study of the effects of various kinds of distraction on sorting ability, a group of participants is asked to sort three decks of cards into four piles. The piles are determined by the presence of one of four words (black, green, white, or brown). The color names were selected so that each has 5 letters. In one condition, the cards only have the color name. In a second condition, each card has ten words typed in a vertical row, with only one of the words representing a color name. In the third condition, the cards have ten 5-character strings typed in a vertical row, but half of the strings are numbers, half are words, and one of the words is a color name. All subjects will sort each deck of 200 cards three times, with the deck being completely shuffled after each sort. The score is the time required to sort each deck.

  4. In a study of the role of a specific brain structure on memory, rats are run in eight-choice mazes. Initially, all of the boxes at the end of the eight runways have a food reward. Once the rat has receive a reward from one runway in the maze, the food is not replenished. Therefore, any attempt to look there again  for food will not be rewarded. After the rat finds a food reward, it is removed from the maze and placed in a cage for one minute. The rat is then returned to the maze and allowed to search for food until another reward is found. Each of the eight arms of the maze are distinguished by a symbol that appears on the wall at the end of the maze just above the food tray. The food tray makes the food reward easily accessible to the rat, but out of their vision until they reach the end of the maze. The measure of memory is how few errors the rat makes in selecting runways to explore for food. Searching a runway that has already been searched is considered an error. The manipulation of the specific brain mechanism is done by surgically implanting a microcannulus into the brain so that it ends precisely in this brain region. The animal, following post-operative recovery, can function completely normally with no pain from this procedure. This microcannulus is then used to administer neurotransmitter agonists or antagonists, which either enhance or block the action of the major neurotransmitter for this brain region. One group of animals receive the agonist, a second group receives the antagonist, and a third group receives a saline solution that has no effect on the neurotransmitters.

  5. The effects of two treatment approaches for public speaking anxiety are evaluated in a matched-subjects design. There are three groups of participants, who are matched participant-for-participant on their rating of how anxious they get when they have to give a talk in public. The three groups will receive either (1) an anxiety management program only, (2) an anxiety management program coupled with training on how to give a better talk, or (3) no treatment. The dependent measures include (1) a rating of how anxious the person looks when they present to an audience, (2) their heart rate during the presentation, (3) their rating of their own anxiety during the talk, and (4) their rating of their own anxiety two minutes before they are scheduled to talk.

  6. The level of cognitive awareness of the effects of Ritalin (a stimulant drug used to treat hyperactivity) is evaluated as a function of age of the participant. Hyperactive boys between the ages of 8 and 16 are given one of three capsules and then asked 30 minutes later whether they thought the capsule contained their hyperactivity medication. The capsules contained either (1) no Ritalin, (2) a low dose of Ritalin, or (3) a moderate dose of Ritalin. All of the participants had been taking Ritalin on a regular basis for at least 6 months. In the 30 minutes from the time that the boys took their capsule, each was involved in a standardized series of structured activities.