The experimental approach allows for making conclusions about causal relationships between variables. In experiments, the conditions of the experiment (potential confounders) are kept on a constant level, and the independent variable (IV) is manipulated to see how it affects the dependent variable (DV). The conditions being kept constant permits for concluding that the change in the IV caused the observed change in DV, thus establishing the causal relationship. Using a control group also allows for ruling out other causes of change (Cozby & Bates, 2015).
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Ford, Lappi, O’Connor, and Banos (2017) conducted several experiments to determine whether self-enhancing humor could reduce state anxiety about an anticipated stressful event. In the first experiment, participants read self-enhancing jokes, self-defeating jokes, or no jokes (control) prior to an anticipated math test. Thus, the IV was the type of humor (self-enhancing; self-defeating; none = control); the DV was anxiety scores (measured using a questionnaire).
The study exemplifies experimental research because the scholars put the participants into certain conditions and manipulated the IV (used different types of humor on them) to see how this would affect the DV (Ford et al., 2017).
The fact that the participants were subjected to no other influences than the experimental treatment permitted for concluding the causal relationship. As for sample selection, the process is not described; however, it is stated that 123 adult (aged 18-74) U.S. residents were recruited and randomly assigned to the three groups (Ford et al., 2017). The main safeguard against the threat to validity was using the control group.
The experimental design allowed the researchers to conclude the causal relationships because the participants were only subjected to the treatment, and (supposedly) experienced no other outside influences, so it must have been the type of humor that affected their anxiety scores. In addition, the use of the control group allowed for comparing the effects of treatment to the situation with no treatment (Ford et al., 2017).
The article contributes to the field of psychology because it explores the impact of an outside influence (humor) on people’s psychological state (anxiety). It informs literature review of the author of this paper because self-enhancing humor might have some relationship to self-esteem, and elements of self-enhancing humor probably could be used, among other methods, to improve self-esteem (Ford et al., 2017; Yue, Liu, Jiang, & Hiranandani, 2014).
Cozby, P. C., & Bates, S. C. (2015). Methods in behavioral research (12th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.
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Ford, T. E., Lappi, S. K., O’Connor, E. C., & Banos, N. C. (2017). Manipulating humor styles: Engaging in self-enhancing humor reduces state anxiety. Humor, 30(2), 169-191. Web.
Yue, X. D., Liu, K. W. Y., Jiang, F., & Hiranandani, N. A. (2014). Humor styles, self-esteem, and subjective happiness. Psychological Reports, 115(2), 517-525. Web.