The experimental design is a testing method commonly used to test hypotheses in research methods. Although used in all the sciences, this video will more focus on it being applied to psychological studies. This video highlights the experimental method in the infamous Facebook Study.
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Welcome to Psych IRL. My name is Donna. Today I’m going to be explaining the experimental method to you through a study Facebook may be doing to you right now. The experimental design is the only design that allows you to identify cause and effect relationships. Let’s take a look at the famous controversial facebook study as an example.
Step 1 of the experimental design is to ask a question. In this case, “can someone’s emotions by what their friends post on social media”? So, like I can be happy one minute, I log onto facebook, see my friends posting depressing stuff, and then I start posting depressing stuff.
Step 2, Do background research. Studies have shown this emotional contagion in face to face interaction.
Step 3 Formulate a Hypothesis. Predict what will happen based on the research you found. I think that if my friends post more sad things then I will be sad.
Step 4 Experiment. Figure out your independent variable. This is the variable you will manipulate. In this case it will be emotional content expressed on facebook newsfeed. Next figure out your dependent variable or what you will measure. In this case it will be emotionality expressed in one’s own status updates. Who your experiment will affect refers to the population. In this case, it’s facebook users. We then take a sample of the population and randomly assign them into 2 groups, the control group or the experimental group. The experimental group will have the variable manipulated. Participants in this group will either have positive statuses shown to them or more negative statuses shown to them. this is the defining characteristic of what makes this an experimental design. You’re able to randomly assign participants to either condition. If the experiment asked, “are males more aggressive than females after playing violent video games” then the independent variable would be males and females, but since you can’t assign people to gender, this wouldn’t be an experimental design. The control group will be used as a comparison to the experimental group. They will have the same number of positive and negative statuses shown to them.
Step 5 analyze the data and make conclusions. So, people who had positive content reduced in their news feed, a larger of their words in their own status updates were negative and a smaller percentage of their words were positive. when the negativity was reduced the opposite pattern occurred.
So, how did facebook get away with this you ask. Well you know that thing where you accept the terms and use when you first sign up. Yup, that pretty much gives them clearance experiment on you and other stuff. So, this is just a brief overview of the facebook study, if you want to read more about it, check out the article in the description below. I’ve also linked more articles about the experimental design below, if you’re still confused. I will see you next time.