Instructions: This Fall, we will run a series of studies looking at Social Loafing, or “The tendency for people to exert less effort when they pool their efforts toward a common goal than when they are individually accountable”. Specifically, we want to see if participants are more likely to engage in social loafing when they think that their effort at a math problem solving task is being individually assessed compared to grouped with other participants.
In all conditions, we will tell participants that we want them to solve math problems, and that one of our goals is to see who can solve the most math problems (with the student researcher who recruited the participant who solved the most problems winning class bonus points. Sorry, though – this is not exactly true, as their will be no “winning” score and thus no bonus points. We just want participants to believe that bonus points are on the table to motivate them in their problem-solving task).
While all participants will complete the same math problems, we will tell them one of three things: 1) that their score alone will determine the “winner”, 2) that their score will be pooled with three other participants for a final summed score that will determine the “winner”, or 3) that their score will be pooled with three other participants but then averaged across those three participants for a final score that will determine the “winner”. According to social loafing principles, participants in the pooled score conditions should complete fewer problems than participants in the individual alone condition. However, all participants should report that they worked hard at the task (that they did not loaf).
1). For your first experimental study, you will play the role of researcher, and you will collect data from three different participants. There are two phases to this study. In the first phase, you will orally ask participants if they are willing to participate in a research study. In the second phase, participants will complete a four-part survey. In Part One, participants will read instructions about the math solving task. We will tell some participants that their individual score will be assessed while we will tell others that their grouped score will be assessed (and either totaled or averaged). In Part Two, participants will complete math problems. In Part Three, participants will reflect on their performance in the math solving task. In Part Four, participants will complete demographic questions and a manipulation check question. As you collect data from participants, use the following steps:
A). Your first task is to approach three different participants (not all at the same time!). Preferably, they will be people that you do not know and did not take a psychology research methods class during the Spring or Summer semesters of 2022, or the Fall 2022 semester. Please DO NOT complete this study yourself. If possible, use only FIU students as participants (no family / friends – You will use them in a later replication study at the end of the semester, and they cannot participate twice). There are 48 students in our class, so with each student collecting data from 3 people, our final sample will be around 140 participants total.
1). Note that there is a “Covid alternative” to data collection if you are unable to collect data yourself. Ask your instructor about that option, but there is a good chance that you will already see some pre-completed “Covid Alternative” documents in Canvas.
2). Even if you use the “Covid Alternative”, read the information below, as it will help you write your future papers. You do not need to mention that you used the Covid Alternative, but you will pretend like you collected participant survey responses yourself.
B). Phase I: Informed Consent
1). Informed Consent:
“Hello, I am conducting a study for my research methods class. I was wondering if you would be willing to participate. The study takes about five to ten minutes. There are no risks to participating, and the main benefit is that I can complete my class assignment. Will you participate?”
C). Phase II: “Questionnaire”
1). General Instructions
Thank you for participating in this study. The purpose of the study is simple: we want to see how many math problems you can complete correctly! But this is also a competition among the student researchers. We will compare participants to see who completed the most math problems. The student researcher associated with the best performance* will receive course bonus points unavailable to other students (we will use a random drawing if there is a tie). So, complete as many math problems as you can to help the student who recruited you win!
A quick note for you (the researcher): If you look at the bottom of the questionnaire on the first page, you will see the letters I, GT, and GA. Those relate to the condition for that specific survey. The IT stands for Individual Total, the GT stands for Group Total, and the GA stands for Group Average. These initials will help YOU quickly know which survey is which, though the initials should be meaningless for participants. No need to mention this in your future papers, but it is a good way to keep track of your surveys
D). Once participants complete the questionnaire, debrief them regarding the social loafing study. That is, tell them about the study conditions and hypothesis. Read the following:
“This study investigates the psychological concept of “social loafing”, or the tendency for people to exert less effort when they pool their efforts toward a common goal than when they are individually accountable. In our study, we asked all participants to complete the same set of math problems (squaring all numbers in sequence), and we told them we would compare scores across participants to see who had the best performance. But we altered the definition of “best performance” across three different study conditions. In our first condition, we told participants we would look at their individual performance score. In our second condition, we told participants we would pool their performance score with the scores of two other participants collected by the same student researcher and use this total score as the basis for the “best performance”. In our final condition, we also told participants we would pool their performance score with the scores of two other participants collected by the same student researcher but that we would use this average score as the basis for the “best performance”. Thus, in one condition participant performance is individually examined while in the other two conditions performance is based on a group score (either the total or the average).
We have two predictions. First, if participants are told that their individual total score will be the basis of the “best performance”, then they will attempt to solve more problems than those who are told their score will be pooled with the scores of two other participants (resulting in either a group total score or a group average score), with no differences expected between these two group-based conditions. Second, since prior research suggests that people tend to think that they themselves do not engage in social loafing, we predict that all participants—regardless of their study condition—will agree that they completed more math problems than the average participant.”
In other words, participants who think their individual contributions are more identifiable will work harder on the task than those who think their contribution is pooled with others, but all participants will think they worked equally hard.
Once again, thank you for participating in this study!
**Methods Students: Note that the underlined paragraphs above will be helpful when you write Paper I! In fact, you can use the underlined paragraphs in your first paper if you like (just copy and paste them into your literature review). However, the predictions ARE NOT INCLUDED in your minimum page count. That is, you can copy/paste the predictions, but they do not count in the page minimum!
Also note that we have seven different dependent measures in this study (excluding variables in the demographic section), which means that we could have seven different hypotheses, one for each DV. Of course, the most important dependent variable is in Part Two (Math Problems). You will need to determine how many problems each individual participant attempted and write that number (ranging from 0 to 42) in the page one footer. Look for the note “For research use only: T = ______” and write the number of math problems completed in that space. The other six dependent variables are in Part Three: Thoughts About Your Performance. Technically, each of these six dependent variables has its own prediction, but the two DVs underlined above are the ones we will look at (Total Math Problem number and Part Two, Statement #1). If you want to analyze statements #2 through #6 you will need to write a prediction for that statement and include it in your literature review for Paper One.
2). Hold onto the completed questionnaires, as you will use them in an upcoming lab. You will enter data into SPSS and analyze it during your lab. Important note: Each student researcher is responsible for collecting data from three participants (one participant for each study condition – Individual Total, Group Total and Group Average). However, we will combine survey data from each student in your lab section, so your final sample will include at least 100 to 140 or so participants. In your papers (especially Paper II), you will use this total set of research participants (at least 100), NOT just the three that you collected yourself. Don’t even discuss “Three participants”, as that is not correct. Discuss ALL participants in your papers
3). One last note: Pay close attention to these instructions! You can use them as the basis for Paper II later this semester when you discuss your methods section. That being said, these instructions are too long for a methods section, and includes information you will need to omit for Paper II. When writing that paper, make sure to only report the important aspects (what you actually did in the study). Write about what you actually did in the study!
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