Instructions: Later in the semester, and throughout your time as a psychology major and beyond, you will need to summarize and critique research articles. Before you can do that, you need to learn to read empirical research articles. You may be thinking “I already know how to read!”, but reading a research article is a little different than reading a textbook or news article. When you read a scientific article, your goal is to understand scientific contributions that authors made, specifically in psychology, hypotheses, research design, participants, methodology, results, and conclusion. This is a complex task – you may go over the article several times and spend hours on it. Research articles are written in a format that may not be intuitive or easy to understand at first. It will get easier with practice!
Here are some general guidelines for you to read a research article:
· Remember the structure of a psychological article, and how each section is different: Abstract, Introduction, Method, Results, Discussion, References, Appendix.
· Skim the article: Briefly skimming the materials can help you be familiar with the topic and information included in the article. With the anticipation of article structure and topic, you will read the article more efficiently and comprehend more later on.
· Take notes as you read the article: Next, you should carefully read through each section and make notes. Write down any questions or criticisms so you do not forget them. Underline key points/definitions, mark down important data and results, go back the start and look up the information that you missed, and discuss with your group. Such efforts can help you the first time you read an article.
· Identify key information: Here are the key pieces of information to look for:
· What are the main hypotheses?
· What is/are independent variable(s)? What is/are dependent variable(s)?
· How did researchers recruit their participants? Identify participants’ demographic information and data collection procedure.
· What materials did researchers utilize to measure the hypotheses? Identify the apparatus and measurements.
· What are the key findings/results of the study?
· Do the findings justify authors’ conclusions?
· Next semester, you will also have to: Note the other sources that the paper cited in the introduction and discussion sections (you can skip this step for current discussion assignment): References section may be ignored but it is actually one of the most important parts in an article, especially when you are looking for references/sources for your own further studies. Spending some time to review it can find some research articles/topics in which you are interested. You will learn all about this in Methods II!
For this assignment, I have chosen a research article for you to read. Read the article posted below and answer the following questions.
Saving the Last for Best- A Positivity Bias for End Experiences.pdf
Always save a copy of your responses to the individual assignments before you submit them (either by taking a picture of your answers or by copying and pasting your answers into a word document). You will need them for you discussion assignment and you will not always have access to your responses after you submit them.
1.What design did this study use? (Experimental or Correlational). Explain how you know (this should be fairly apparent from the title of the article, so please also explain why this is an experimental study).
2. What is/are independent variable(s)? (Specify the levels). Note: there may be more than one IV, or there may be just one. Try to spot them all!
3. What is/are dependent variable(s)? (List all dependent variables authors measured)
4. How many participants in the study? What methods (e.g., survey, computer, equipment, etc.) did authors utilize to measure variables? How did they manipulate the IV?
5. What are the findings of the study?
Now I want you to convey your understanding of a research article. Here are the requirements for your writing for questions 6 and 7:
a. Write no more than 10 sentences, the max word count is 250.
b. In-text citation and direct quotes are not needed (we will learn how to do that next week!).
c. You cannot directly copy and paste the sentences/phrases from the original article. You must use your own words (paraphrase) to summarize. Each student’s writing should and must be different even for group members in the same group. Copying and pasting from any outside source is regarded as plagiarism behavior.
d. Font: Times New Roman; Font size: 12.
6. Write one paragraph to summarize and paraphrase a) the design the authors used for their project, b) identify the independent and dependent variables, c) talk about how the authors carried out their study (the methods), and then d) summarize the results. Make sure to follow above-mentioned requirements.
Don’t forget to save a copy of your response to this question before you submit your assignment! You’ll need it for the discussion assignment this week!
7. Were there any confounds in the study? Explain why or why not, and explain how you think this confound might have influenced the results of the study.
23(2) 163 –165
© The Author(s) 2012
Reprints and permission:
Imagine that your favorite restaurant is closing, and your final
meal tastes especially delicious. Is it actually more tasty than
normal, or is it just more enjoyable because you know it is
the last one? Previous research suggests that salient endings
may foster more positive attitudes toward the events that
preceded them. For example, students reminded of graduation
felt greater affection for their school than did students not
given such reminders (Ersner-Hershfield, Mikels, Sullivan, &
Carstensen, 2008), and people who considered relocating
valued their hometown friends more highly than did people
who did not consider relocating (Fredrickson & Carstensen,
However, “lasts” are also common in everyday life and
need not involve significant experiences. For example, on a
typical day, someone might read the last chapter of a book, eat
the last bite of lunch, listen to the last symposium speaker, and
give the last kiss goodnight. In turn, he or she may assess the
quality of each event (e.g., “How interesting was that final
talk?”). When made salient, serial positioning may affect such
assessments; this occurs because people are highly sensitive to
temporal contexts, which influence many evaluations besides
major life episodes (Aaker, Rudd, & Mogilner, 2011; Levine,
1997; McGrath & Tschan, 2004). Thus, just as graduations
trigger more positive perceptions of school, people might
judge everyday “last” events more positively because they
generally signal the end of an experience.
To test this possibility, we recruited participants to eat dif-
ferent flavors of chocolates one by one. We predicted that
when the last chocolate was made salient, it would be more
enjoyable, and it would taste better than the other chocolates
irrespective of flavor. We also predicted that when the last
chocolate was made salient, the experiment would be more
enjoyable overall, because endings drive global evaluations
(as in duration neglect—Redelmeier & Kahneman, 1996); in
other words, if the last chocolate tastes better than the ones
before it, the overall experience should seem better.
Fifty-two students (28 males, 24 females) were recruited
individually in public campus areas to participate in an
alleged taste test of new Hershey’s Kisses containing local
ingredients. Participants were given five chocolates, each with
a different flavor: milk, dark, crème, caramel, and almond.
Participants were not told how many or which flavors they
were tasting. An experimenter who was blind to the hypothesis
randomly pulled one chocolate of each flavor from a hidden
pocket inside a full bag of candy (the hidden pocket was used
so participants would not know how many pieces of chocolate
they would be given). After eating each chocolate, participants
rated how much they enjoyed it on a scale ranging from 0
(not at all enjoyable) to 10 (extremely enjoyable). They also
described each flavor so we could record the order in which
they ate the five chocolates.
Participants were randomly assigned to the next or the last
condition. In the next condition, the experimenter said, “Here
is your next chocolate,” before offering each chocolate after
the first. In the last condition, the experimenter followed this
same script before the second, third, and fourth chocolates but
said, “Here is your last chocolate,” before offering the fifth
chocolate. Thus, participants were either unaware or aware of
which chocolate was last. Participants then indicated which
chocolate they liked best and how much they enjoyed the
This procedure was followed by a manipulation check and
demographic questions. In the manipulation check, subjects
responded to a questionnaire asking what the experimenter
said before offering them the fifth chocolate (the four choices
were “next,” “last,” “none,” or “don’t know”). Data from 7
participants were eliminated from analysis because their
responses on the manipulation check were incorrect. Finally,
we conducted a funnel debriefing (no participants indicated
suspicion regarding the manipulation).
Participants in the last condition rated the fifth chocolate as
more enjoyable (M = 8.18, SD = 1.87) than participants in the
Ed O’Brien, Research Center for Group Dynamics, Institute for Social
Research, University of Michigan, 426 Thompson St., Ann Arbor, MI
E-mail: [email protected]
Saving the Last for Best: A Positivity Bias
for End Experiences
Ed O’Brien and Phoebe C. Ellsworth
University of Michigan
Received 7/19/11; Revision accepted 9/29/11
164 O’Brien, Ellsworth
next condition did (M = 6.26, SD = 2.30), t(43) = 3.07, p =
.004, d = 0.92. In fact, participants in the last condition liked
the final chocolate more than any other chocolate. As expected,
ratings of the first four chocolates did not differ by condition,
ts < 1.00 (see Fig. 1).1 Participants in the last condition chose the fifth chocolate as their favorite significantly more often (64% of the time) than participants in the next condition did (22% of the time), χ2(4, N = 45) = 9.95, p =.04. Finally, as predicted, the effect of condition on overall enjoyment of the experiment was medi- ated by ratings of the last chocolate, β = 0.38, p = .016. Accord- ingly, the experiment was rated more enjoyable by participants in the last condition (M = 8.73, SD = 1.42) than by participants in the next condition (M = 7.65, SD = 1.70), t(43) = 2.30, p = .026, d = 0.69. Discussion Endings are powerful. Long painful experiences that end rela- tively pleasantly are remembered better than short painful experiences that do not (Redelmeier & Kahneman, 1996). A short life that ends on a high note seems better than a long life that ends in mediocrity (Diener, Wirtz, & Oishi, 2001). Moral behavior at the end of life outweighs immoral behavior lead- ing up to it (Newman, Lockhart, & Keil, 2010). And signifi- cant end events (e.g., graduation) may promote positive evaluations of preceding related events (Kurtz, 2008). The research reported here demonstrates the power of end- ings in everyday life. Furthermore, unlike most prior research, it assessed participants’ feelings as the endings occurred rather than retrospectively. Participants who knew they were eating the final chocolate of a taste test enjoyed it more, preferred it to other chocolates, and rated the overall experience as more enjoyable than participants who thought they were just eating one more chocolate in a series. These results are especially intriguing because the “end” was somewhat artificial and impermanent (i.e., participants could still eat chocolates after finishing our experiment). This suggests that the same experi- ence is viewed as better simply because people are aware that it is the last in a series, and this awareness influences subse- quent evaluations and preferences. This observation probably extends far beyond Hershey’s Kisses. For example, the last book of a series or the last speaker in a symposium may receive unwarranted praise, research subjects may give overly posi- tive responses on the last tasks of experiments, and the last job applicants or students (e.g., those whose papers are graded last) may look especially qualified. Such implications suggest many directions for future research. Why, exactly, are everyday experiences enhanced when their end is signaled? For example, it may be evolution- arily adaptive to more strongly desire the last remaining resources or the last items in a series rather than the previous ones, because of anticipated scarcity (Kurzban & Leary, 2001). Through what specific mechanisms are these experiences enhanced? Perhaps awareness of endings shifts attention toward positive features of an experience and away from negative features (Carstensen & Mikels, 2005) or promotes savoring of final moments (Quoidbach, Dunn, Petrides, & Mikolajczak, 2010). What defines potential boundaries or parameters? For example, the last chocolate in a longer series than the one tested here may not be viewed as better if people adapt to the taste (Frederick & Loewenstein, 1999), and end- ings to negative experiences may produce different effects than endings to positive experiences do (Li & Epley, 2009). Until these possibilities are tested, consider a cheaper option during your final visit to a restaurant—it may taste just as delicious as any other. Declaration of Conflicting Interests The authors declared that they had no conflicts of interest with respect to their authorship or the publication of this article. Funding This research was supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship awarded to the first author. Note 1. Flavors were distributed roughly equally across the five test posi- tions in both conditions, which made it unlikely that participants in the last condition ate better fifth chocolates by chance. Nonetheless, we confirmed our findings in an additional experiment, in which 24 new participants completed the taste test in a set order, with almond randomly chosen to be presented last. As in the main experiment, participants in the last condition still enjoyed the last chocolate more (M = 7.98, SD = 1.71) than participants in the next condition did (M = 6.09, SD = 1.99), t(22) = 3.31, p < .001, d = 1.02. 4 5 6 7 8 9 1 2 3 4 5 E nj oy m en t Test Position Next Condition Last Condition Fig. 1. Mean rating of enjoyment as a function of the chocolate’s test position and the participant’s condition. Error bars show ±1 SE. 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