Last week I participated in the first of six psychology experiments I will have to attend to get credit for class. The purpose of this particular research study was to examine the factors that influence how people form impressions of others, specifically through online interactions. First it asked a bunch of questions to determine what kind of person I am. In example, whether I am quick to anger or just an easy-going person. There was another person doing this exact thing I was doing in a building across campus. After the initial questions, we were asked to write a brief paragraph about any social issue we think is prominent in society today. We submitted the essays to each other and then proceeded to provide feedback on the writing. I gave some helpful feedback, based on the content and grammar. They didn’t provide me anything but one little sentence that didn’t help at all. The main part of this study consisted of a reaction-time game. Competing with the other person across campus, different shapes would come and go on the screen and the first person to click a button when the described shape appeared would win. Say for instance the program is asking to click the button as soon as I see a blue square. Several other shapes will pop-up, such as a yellow star, red circle, etc, before the blue square would appear. As soon as it appeared I would try to click the button faster than the opponent.
Now here is where the psychology part of the experiment came in. If I lost, a buzzer would play through the headphones I was wearing. The decibel all depended on the person playing opposite of me. Before each round it would ask what decibel level I want the buzzer to play for the opponent if I won that round. First, on a scale of 1 to 10, I was picking 1 all the time, because it’s just an experiment and a fun little game. There would be no reason to blast a noise in someone’s ear. My opponent picked a higher number. The program showed what level my opponent picked for me after every round. For the first few rounds I was choosing 1’s, hoping they would do the same out of generosity as they saw I have done the same. As the study went on, they were still constantly choosing higher numbers. So, out of spite of them not willing to cooperate with what I wanted to do, taking the easy way, I started giving them a decibel rating of 10, the loudest and obnoxious buzzer. I made sure that I would a few rounds as well so they would suffer the wrath like I have.
The study lasted about thirty minutes, and I enjoyed it. I’m not sure what kind of things the researchers will obtain from this study, but I hope that I helped them out. My impression of this other person was not too great.