Psychology 3100-200: (Advanced) Experimental Psychology

Fall 2016/Lectures are in Brackett 322|Labs are in Martin E305/Monday Wednesday Friday 12:20 PM to 1:10 PM/Psyc 3101-201 Wednesday 2:00 to 4:00 PM|Psyc 3101-202 Wednesday 4:00 to 6:00 PM

Course Description:

The purpose of this course is to give you a thorough grounding in the empirical research techniques that we use in psychology. For historical reasons, we call this course "experimental" psychology, but we don't restrict ourselves to true experiments. Survey research, naturalistic observation, and quasi-experiments will also be covered. We'll also give some attention to non-empirical issues; deeper theoretical question in psychology often cannot be evaluated on the basis of empirical data alone. You will get a good deal of practice in writing about your studies—good, clear scientific writing is the goal, not just conformity to the stylistic norms of psychology journals—and in critical thinking about the claims that researchers make.

This is a tough, labor-intensive course. I don't have an attendance policy, because I don't think adults need one. It does not follow that skipping classes is a good idea. There is no textbook. All course materials will be presented in lecture and on Blackboard.

Course Attendance, Tests, and Grading

Regular attendance at class and lab and timely work on the written assignments are necessary for success in this course. You will be helping to conduct 3 laboratory studies and writing them up: you will be drafting the front sections of your final project (Introduction and Method); you will be preparing an application to submit to the Institutional Review Board; and you will producing a final report of the entire project. (In addition, if you can get us a draft of the Results and Discussion sections for comment a few days before you turn in your final paper, this is likely to be beneficial for you.) Written assignments that are late will have 5 points out of 100 deducted for each day past the due date. It's critical to stay on schedule when there is so much for you to do and for us to grade. If I haven't arrived—or Sarah hasn't arrived—within 15 minutes of the scheduled time for a class or lab to begin, you are free to leave. Instead of tests, there will be a daily quiz, consisting of 1 to 3 questions. (With three class days in most weeks, we will do "daily" quizzes two days out of three, on the average.) You may drop 6 daily quiz grades for any reason (including absences); the daily quiz average will be based on the remaining 21 or 22 quizzes. The volume rules out make-ups, and daily quizzes will not be returned to you; grades for the quizzes will be posted on Blackboard. The final project counts as our final exam.

Your grade will be determined on a contract basis. To receive a grade of A, B, C, or D in this class, you must turn in your IRB submission by the date specified in the schedule below. Each of the other assignments will then count toward your final grade as follows.

Your grade will be based on this formula

Item % of
Final Grade
Average of 21 or 22
daily quizzes
Study 1 writeup 7%
Study 2 writeup 7%
Study 3 writeup 12%
Final project introduction
and references
Final project method section 9%
Complete final project paper 25%

Learning objectives for this course:

» Be able to distinguish accurately between the kinds of empirical studies that allow inferences to be drawn about what causes what, and those that do not., 
» Be able to identify what makes a hypothesis testable, and the difference between testing and proving. 
» Be able recognize the differences between a typical problem of psychological measurement (e.g., measuring anxiety) and a typical problem of physical measurement (e.g., measuring weight).
» Identify the two key ethical principles in any kind of research with human participants, showing how they govern what kinds of studies should be done at all, and what kinds of procedures should be used.
» Become adopting at quoting, paraphrasing, and citing correctly from a variety of media sources, using APA style and its associated norms.

Laptop policy:

Laptop computers are helpful in this course, and are necessary to do the data analysis in our labs.
If you bring a laptop to the lectures, please use it for class-related purposes, such as taking notes and access course materials. If I notice that you are playing Solitaire on it, viewing Facebook or Instagram, or IMing, I may ask you not to bring it back to our next class.
We will be using the SPSS grad pack for statistical analysis. It runs on both Macs and Windows machines. The Psychology Department will provide licenses that are good through the end of August 2016; you will receive these around two weeks after the start of the semester. If you have a stat package already installed on your computer that you like, you are welcome to use it; however, our consulting ability is limited to SPSS, plus the other stat packages that we have recently used (such as SAS-JMP and SOFA).


Cheating means providing or accepting information on a quiz (quizzes are meant to be your individual work). Or not being the sole author of your writeups (we encourage you to discuss the writeups and your final project with others, but the actual writing on your lab writeups—and the actual data collection, analysis, and writing on your final project—must be yours alone). If you decide to cheat, we will take action against you according to University policy.

Class Schedule

Date Topic Items Due
Wed. August 17 Science, Empirical and Theoretical -
Fri. August 19 Science, Empirical and Theoretical -
Mon. August 22 Science, Empirical and Theoretical Tuesday August 23 is the Last Day to Add a Class
Wed. August 24 Hypothesis Testing -
Fri. August 26 Hypothesis Testing -
Mon. August 29 Hypothesis Testing -
Wed. August 31 Hypothesis Testing Last Day to Drop without a W
Fri. September 2 Hypothesis Testing -
Mon. September 5 NO CLASS -
Wed. September 7 Getting Ideas for Research -
Fri. September 9 Ethics 1 [Human Subjects] -
Mon. September 12 Ethics 1 [Human Subjects] -
Wed. September 14 Ethics 1 [Human Subjects] -
Fri. September 16 Ethics 1 [Human Subjects] -
Mon. September 19 Ethics 1 [Human Subjects] -
Wed. September 21 Ethics 2 [IRBs] Introduction and Reference section for Final Project Due
Fri. September 23 Ethics 2 [IRBs] -
Mon. September 25 Ethics 2 [IRBs] -
Wed. September 27 Ethics 2 [IRBs] -
Fri. September 30 IRB Application Workshop 2 -
Mon. October 3 IRB Application Workshop 3 -
Wed. October 5 Ethics 3 [Reporting Data] IRB Application due
Fri. October 7 Ethics 3 [Reporting Data] -
Mon. October 10 Ethics 3 [Reporting Data] -
Wed. October 12 Ethics 3 [Reporting Data] -
Fri. October 14 Ethics 3 [Reporting Data] -
Mon. October 17 Ethics 3 [Reporting Data] Method section for Final Project due
Wed. October 19 Ethics 3 [Reporting Data] -
Fri. October 21 Psychological Measurement Last day to withdraw without a final grade
Mon. October 24 Psychological Measurement -
Wed. October 26 Psychological Measurement -
Fri. October 28 Psychological Measurement -
Mon. October 31 Psychological Measurement -
Wed. November 2 Psychological Measurement -
Fri. November 4 Psychological Measurement -
Mon.  November 7  and   Tue. November 8 FALL BREAK -
Wed. November 9 Measurement and Operational Definitions -
Fri. November 11 Measurement and Operational Definitions -
Mon. November 14 Sampling -
Wed. November 16 Sampling -
Fri. November 18 Sampling -
Mon. November 21 Confounds -
Wed. November 23 through Fri. November 25 THANKSGIVING -
Mon. November 28 Confounds -
Wed. November 30 Single-IV Experiments: Between Groups -
Fri. December 2 Single-IV Experiments: Between Groups -
Tue. December 6 4:30 PM - FINAL PROJECT DUE

Lab Schedule

You should bring your laptop to each lab. We put our data files together using Excel, which we also normally use to find means and standard deviations. For more advanced analysis, we are using the SPSS "grad pack," which runs on both Windows and Mac OS machines.

Date Topic
Wed. August 17 Literature Searches Taught by Peg Tyler
Wed. August 24 Study 1
Wed. August 31 Installing SPSS
September 7
Study 2
Study 1 report due
Wed. September 14 Study 3
Wed. September 21 Study 3
September 28
 IRB Application Workshop 1
Study 2 report due
Wed. October 5 Study 3
Wed. October 12 Study 3
Wed. October 19 Study 3
Wed. October 26 Final report workshop
November 2
Final report workshop
Study 3 report due
Wed. November 9 Final report workshop
Wed. November 16 Final report workshop
Wed. November 30 Final report workshop