Sample Essay Question
Professor Reiman, a social psychology researcher, is interested in expanding on Solomon Asch’s conformity research. Professor Reiman decides to place participants into a room with three conferderates who know about the experiment. In the room, the group is asked to compare the size of geometric figures. The participants are randomly assigned to one of two conditions. In the first group, the three confederates are introduced to the participant as introductory psychology students. In the second groupd, two of the confederates are introduced as introductory psychology students, but one is identified as a graduate student in perception research from a prestigious college. During the experiment in both conditions, the confederates all give the same wrong answers to some of the size comparison questions, Professor Reiman keeps track of how many times the participant conforms to the incorrect answer of the rest of the group. In this experiment:
(A) Identify the independent variable, the dependant variable, the operational definition of the dependent variable, and at least one confounding variable control for the by the experiment design.
(B) Explain the principal difference between Professor Reiman’s study and Asch’s orginial research about conformity.
(C) Predict the level of conformity in the first group relative to the level of conformity in the second group based on your knowledge of Asch’s research and social psychological principles. Identify what psychological principle you base your predictions on.
After reading the question, stop and think about what it is asking you. You are allowed to make notes on the question sheet, and many students find making a simple outline at this point and organizing their thoughts helpful. All essay questions imply a certain organization for your answer. Use this implied organization, do not ignore it. You might be tempted to create a unique organization for your answer. However, your reader is not giving you points based on organization, so the time you spend on this is wasted. In addition, if you answer a questions out of order, you increase the chances of the reader might misunderstand what you are trying to say. In this case, the format of the question indiciates you organize your essay into three main parts: A, B, and C. You do not need to label these parts A, B, and C. (In fact, make sure you
do not just write your answer as an outline.) However, the question writer is giving you a hint about how bes to organize your response. Write your essay in this organization. In addition, notice the essay does NOT ask you to review Asch’s studies on conformity in detail. For the last two parts of the question, having a basic knowledge of Asch’s study would be helpful. However, you could write a detailed description of thisresearch and not answer this question directly. Do what is asked of you in an essay. Adding information the question does not ask for (even if it is accure information) is a waste of time and will not get you additional points. Do not spend time writing an introduction of conclusion for your essay, since grading rubrics do not give points for introductions and conclusions. You may want to write your answer to this questions before going on in this chapter to the scoring rubric for this questions. When you are ready, examine the following rubric for this essay question and notice how the points are scored:
Rubric for Sample Questions
This is an 8-point question. Four points are possible in part A, 1 point in part B, and 3 points in part C.
(A) Identify the independent variable, the dependent variable, the operational definition of the dependent variable, and at least one confounding variable controlled for by the experimental design.
Point 1- Independent variable- The essay should identify the different introductions of the confederates as the independent variable. In the first condition, all the confederates were introduced as psychology students. In the second condition, one of them was identified as a graduate student in perception. This was the only designed difference between the groups and is thus the variable the experimenter is trying to manipulate, the independent variable.
Point 2- Dependent variable- the student should identify conformity as the dependent variable. Professor Reiman manipulates the independent variable to see how it affects fonromity, the dependent variable.
Pointe 3-Operational definition- Professor Reiman operationally defines conformity as the participant agreeing with the wrong answers of the confederates. Do NOT award a point if the student identifies the operational definition as conformity. Conformity is the dependent variable.
Point 4-Confounding variable-the main element of the experimental design mentioned that would control for potential confounding variables is the random assignment. Randomly assigning participants to the two conditions would control for many possible subject-relevant confounding variables.
Point 5- Difference- The main difference between Professor Reimans study and Asch’s original is the inclusion of this particular independent variable. In one of the
conditions, Professor Reiman identifies one of the confederates as a graduate student in perception
C- Predict the level of Conformity
Point 6- Level of Conformity in the first group-The student receives one point for demonstrating his or her understanding that most of the participants would conform to the group’s wrong answers. Similar to original study
Point7- Level of Conformity in second group-Higher level of conformity here due to the authority figure (confederate is expert)
Point 8- Social Psychological principle- the student should identify obedience as the social psychological principle acting in this case in conjunction with conformity. Miligram.