Dependent variable

For this assignment, you will design and conduct a small field experiment to test your own hypothesis on the topic of conformity/compliance (discussed in the social psychology chapter in your book). A field experiment is an experiment, where you have more than one condition of an independent variable and assess how each of those conditions affects participants’ scores on a dependent variable. However, because the study is conducted in “the field” (i.e., a naturalistic setting) it’s called a field experiment. For this assignment, the dependent variable we are interested in influencing is conformity of your participants. You will decide for yourself what the independent variable will be, as well as what the conditions of it will be, and you will decide how exactly to measure the dependent variable of “conformity”. See below as well as the rubric for more information on grading

  1. First, think of a simple behavior or response that could illustrate conformity. You could also think of a simple request that you will ask people to comply with. Your dependent variable (i.e., the data you will gather) is whether or not each person engaged in the behavior, responded the way you wanted them to, or complied with your request. The behavior/response/request should not be anything dangerous or unethical.
  2. Then, identify a variable that you think would make another person more or less likely to conform. This could be something about the way the request is made, something about the person who is being asked, something about the person who is doing the requesting (you), or something going on in the environment or situation. This is your independent variable. You should specify two conditions or groups of the independent variable.
  3. Translate your theory (idea) into a hypothesis and state that hypothesis clearly in your paper. A hypothesis is a testable prediction about how one variable affects another. Your hypothesis should predict how your independent variable will affect the dependent variable (conformity/compliance). Specifically, it should state which of the two conditions of the independent variable you predict will have more or less conformity/compliance than the other condition.
  4. Next, design and run a field experiment to test your hypothesis by gathering empirical data. You should gather data from at least 8 people total (4 in each of your two conditions). For each person, make sure you keep track of:
    1. which of the two conditions they are in (independent variable)
    2. whether or not they conformed/complied (dependent variable)

Note: Your participants can be people you know well, people you know slightly, or strangers. You should not tell them what your hypothesis is or that they are involved in a study. Take care to develop a procedure that does not harm anyone (including yourself or your participants) in any way.

  1. Type your paper in a new document. Your paper should be approximately 2-3 pages long and should answer the following questions thoroughly:
    1. What was your hypothesis? Why did you expect it to be the case?
    1. What did you do to test your hypothesis? That is, describe your study:
      1. What was the conformity/compliance assessed, and how did you measure whether or not people conformed/complied?
      2. What was your independent variable, and what were the two conditions?
      3. Describe the participants in each condition.
      4. Where, when, how did you conduct the study?
    1. What were your results?
      1. How many people conformed/complied with your request in each of the two different conditions?
      2. Do your results support your hypothesis? How so, or how not?

IMPORTANT NOTE: As part of the ethics of this assignment, you must consider how your interaction with participants may affect them and take care not to do anything that would create pain or discomfort for participants or passersby.

Examples of behaviors that would be inappropriate, if not unethical, include:

  • Romantic or sexual comments or propositions of any type (actual or implied)
  • Encouraging or offering the use of illegal or harmful substances
  • Encouraging someone to say or do something that might harm themselves or anyone else (physically, emotionally, socially, academically, etc.).

If you are unsure of whether your planned procedure may harm people in any way, please consult your professor before you do it. Assignments involving unethical or harmful procedures will earn an automatic 0, regardless of the quality of the research design or the paper.