Expectancy Effect in Experimental Psychology | Free Essay Example

Expectancy Effect in Experimental Psychology

Words: 1665
Topic: Psychology

The study under analysis provides an extensive examination of the experimental psychology. In particular, the scholars have introduced their view on the impact of experimenters’ bias on the outcomes of the experiment, as well as have provided precautious measures to avoid subjective evaluation. During the study, the scholars invited 12 students enrolling in studying experiment psychology. The participants were to control five albino rats to define whether maze-bright generation rates are better than that of maze-dull rates.

The study has justified the hypothesis and has proved that expectancy degree of the participants influences the predictability of the results. The validity and reliability of the research can be supported by a number of related studies in the sphere. Although the study is premised on the evaluation of animals’ behavior and performance, it can still be applied in discussion the experimenters’ behavior in researching other subjects, such as tastes and preferences, learning approaches, or overall perception.

The study provides substantial grounds for analyzing the results in the sphere of iatrogenic research. In particular, one can apply the finding to discuss the influence of prejudices and analyze the influence of therapists’ words and prescriptions on patient’s attitude. In the context of the studies introduced by Rosenthal and Fode (1963), Morgan (2005, p. 142) notes, “Es led to believe that their rat Ss had been bred for superior learning ability obtained performance superior to that obtained by Es led to believe their rate had been bred for inferior learning ability”. As a result, the current study can have a multi-dimensional application because it extends the generality of the results that can be employed in teaching and learning.

In the research, Rosenthal and Fode (1963, p. 188.) state that “…researchers observing the manner in which a colleague removers a rate from a maze could judge significantly better than change whether or not S had performed as E had hoped ”. With regard to these judgments, it is purposeful to justify the studies by Brown et al. (1984) who have examined the influence of subject-expectancy effects in learning the consumers’ preferences and tastes in a Cola Taste Test. As a result, the study focuses on how experimenters’ bias affects the choices. In this particular case, the influence of body movement has been decisive because it negatively affects the final outcomes. In addition, the research studies have revealed that nonverbal behavior can have a potent impact on the subject. What is more problematic is that it can also influence personal psychological attributes of both the experimenter and the subject. As a result, behavior directly relates to the decision-making process.

The experiment related to animal subjects creates a number of biases particularly if the experimental condition is exposed to the participants. The students taking part in the research study were previously notified of the conditions, but they failed to recognize that the rats belong to similar population. Most of the participants relied on previous knowledge and ignored further assumption about the case. In order to alleviate this bias, Kantowitz et al. (2008, p. 70) suggest that the introduction of double-blind experiment is much more objective because “neither experimenter nor the research participant knows with subjects are in which treatment conditions”. Such a procedure can effectively be applied to learning behavioral effects of environmental pollution to define whether polluted air can be distinguished from the pure air. With regard to the above-presented observations, the studies introduced by Rosenthal and Fode (1963) have become a trigger to initiating new researches dedicated to the field of experimental psychology. More importantly, they have provided foundation for inventing new methods of experimental research.

Experimental psychology has also found its practical application in the field of education. In particular, the experiments with animals as subjects have proved that students can be manipulated by the instructions and that the outcomes of the study largely depend on the expectations. In this respect, Aronson (2002) mentions the possibility of relying on this experiment in defining the essence of teaching and learning techniques. Specifically, the researcher defines that “…teachers’ expectations could be very important determinants of intellectual performance” (Aronson, 2002, p. 28).

Thus, creating false expectations for children to achieve results can be effective because children should overcome certain barriers to reaching what is initially expected from them. Nevertheless, the expectancy effect can be undermined ethically because children are not able to fulfill the teachers’ expectations for high academic performance. In this respect, the research under consideration provides a sophisticated picture of how false expectancy influences the learning process.

The research has provided a new aspect in the scientific exploration. In particular, Raths, J, & Dayton (1967, p. 733), view experimenter bias “as a construct which was developed in order to describe the effects of experimenter expectation upon the outcomes of experiments”. In this respect, the instructions provided to the participants with regard to the research outcomes have a predictable character and relates to the actual results of the study. Despite the fact that the research methods and techniques are identical for all the experiments conduct, the principle of experimenter bias is enacted both at subconscious and at conscious levels.

The influence of expectancy effect on consciousness is self-explanatory. However, little scientific evidence has been presented with regard to the analysis of subliminal perception. In this respect, the study based on the analysis of expectancy effect provided by Barber and Rushton (1975) expands the research studies under analysis. In particular, the researchers have defined the unconscious level in the context of the predictability of the findings.

In particular, the scholars have discovered evidence supporting the influence of experimenters’ bias on subliminal perception. In addition, it has also been suggested that subliminal aspect can be strongly associated with demand characteristics. In other words, the participants may act in accordance with the requirements of the researcher. Despite the obvious support, there is a room left to undermining the above-presented hypothesis in case the subliminal perception phenomenon occurs when the participant is inattentive to the procedure.

Apart from the analysis of subconscious levels influenced by the research bias, Rosenthal and Fode (1963) provide a solid ground for evaluating the task ambiguity. In this respect, Brightman and Raymond (1975) have undermined the reliability and validity of experimental studies because they do not contribute to objective results. Despite the ambiguity, the researchers have mentioned the conditions under which the Experimental Bias Effect can take place. In particular, the researchers agree with the ideas that “…experimenters, through subtle, unintentional means, communicate their expectations, desires, biases to their subjects and this influence the outcome of the results” (Brightman & Raymond, 1975, p. 278). What is more important is that the research presented by Brightman and Raymond (1975) do not admit the experiment bias effect as the only factor influencing the objectivity of experimental results.

Similar to Brightman and Raymond (1975), Innes and Fraser (1971) have also resorted to the idea that the recognition of experimental bias is insufficient for assessing the objectivity of the research, as well as the expectancy effect. In this respect, the researchers argue that the main problem of experimental design lies in incomplete documenting the participants’ perception, as well as in inadequate assessing of the actual possibility of bias (Innes & Fraser, 1971). In addition, Innes and Fraser (1975, p. 298) have discovered that “when E’s uncontrolled behavior can be correlated with a dependent variable, an experimenter effect exists; when in addition E’s uncontrolled behavior systematically differs…an experimenter bias is present”. Therefore, the experimental bias does not contribute to the confidence of the participants and, as result, the accuracy of scientific findings cannot be guaranteed. The expectancy effect and bias should receive further attention in the field of experimental psychology.

The accuracy of experimental design can also be discussed in the context of analysis of leniency bias as introduced in the research studies by Vinton and Wilke (2011). In particular, the scholars emphasize the importance of examining clinical social work of student interns, as well as how their performance is affected by leniency bias. The significance of the research is enhanced because the experimental design has been focused on the defining students’ perception of instructions that are reproduced both face-to-face and anonymously. Therefore, the study proves that the experimental psychology makes a valuable contribution to the practical area of education. It also emphasizes the importance of instructors’ active involvement in developing performance criteria.

Rosenthal and Fode (1963) do not only focus on various effects of subject-expectancy phenomenon, but also evaluate how humans react to failure and success of the experiment. Certainly, the scholars’ research design has a number of limitations, but the actual scope of the scientific exploration does not deviate from its main purpose. In this respect, Kaplan and Saccuzzo (2009) acknowledge the fact that expectation influences human judgment and make people apply to grant research. The researchers have also acknowledged that the expectancy effect directly correlates with nonverbal patterns of communication.

With regard to the above presented observations and scientific explorations, the findings introduced by Rosenthal and Fode (1963) have resonated further discussions and contradictions related to experimenter bias and expectancy effect. To begin with, many researchers have agreed with the idea that the expectancy effect can have a practical application in the field of academic performance. This is of particular concern to teachers who can motivate children to learn better. On the other hand, the false expectation does not have a positive effect on children’s performance. Rather, many students face serious challenge in meeting the instructors’ demands. As per the experimenter bias, most scientific discoveries relate directly to the adequacy of results and findings. In particular, many scholars have acknowledged the fact that experimenter bias can be eliminated as soon as the double-experiment design is introduced. In other words, it is possible to conceal the focus of the experiment from both the participant and the research. Well-documented research report is another approach to reducing the task ambiguity. Overall, the study under analysis has made a tangible contribution to the field of experimental psychology.

Reference List

Aronson, MA 2002, Improving Academic Achievement: Impact of Psychological Factors on Education. Emerald Group Publishing, US.

Barber, P, & Rushton, J 1975, ‘Experimenter Bias and Subliminal Perception’, British Journal of Psychology, vol. 66, no. 3, pp. 357-372.

Brightman, D & Raymond, B 1975, The Effects of Task Ambiguity and Expectancy Control Groups on the Experimenter Bias Effect. Journal of Social Psychology, vol. 96 no. 2, pp. 277-287.

Brown, C, Zatkalik, N, Treumann, A, Buehner, T, & Schmidt, L 1984, ‘The Effect of Experimenter Bias in a Cola Taste Test’, Psychology & Marketing, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 21-26.

Innes, JM., & Fraser, C 1971, Experimenter bias and other possible biases in psychological research. European Journal of Social Psychology, vol. 1, no. 3, pp. 297-310.

Kantowitz, BH, Roediger, HL, and Elmes, DG 2008, Experimental Psychology. Cengage Learning, New York.

Kaplan, RM, & Saccuzzo, DP 2009, Psychological Testing: Principles, Applications, and Issues, Cengage Learning, New York.

Morgan, RF 2005, Iatrogenics in Professional Practice and Education: A Handbook – When Helping Hurts, Morgan Foundation Publishers, US.

Raths, J, & Dayton, C 1967, ‘Implications for Educational Research of the Phenomenon of Experimenter Bias’, Educational Leadership. pp. 733-739

Rosenthal, R, & Fode, KL 1963 ‘The Effect of Experimenter Bias on the Performance of the Albino Rat’, Behavior Science, vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 183-190.

Vinton, L, & Wilke, D 2011, ‘Leniency bias in evaluating clinical social work student interns’, Clinical Social Work Journal, vol. 39, no. 3, pp. 288-295.