Psychology Practical Experiment

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Participants who are taking part in a timed computer task in front of an audience would complete the task faster than participants without an audience

Null Hypothesis

Participants who are taking part in a timed computer task in front of an audience would complete the task slower than participants without an audience


An experiment is an investigation where the independent variable is manipulated. The dependant variable in my experiment is the time in which the task is completed in. The independent variable is if an audience is present or not. This experiment is an independent measures design where there are different people in different conditions.


The population will be taken from the sixth form common room. They will be an opportunity sample. This is when people are asked if they want to participate in the experiment. There will be 20 people in the sample with two groups of 10. The sample will be randomly allocated to a condition by giving each participant a number 1-20 each relating to a certain condition.


Students will be approached in the sixth form common room. They will be asked if they would like to participate in my psychological experiment. They will be told they will have to complete a computer task and that if they had any questions they should ask me. After getting 20 students they will be allocated in their condition, ten in group 1 and the in group 2. Participants in group 1 would be called up individually to participate in the task in an isolated room. Once they have completed the task the time would be recorded. Participants in group 2 will all be taken up to a room full of students and asked to complete the task in front of them, one by one. After completing the task both groups would be thanked, debriefed and asked if they had any questions.


I will be controlling whether or not an audience is present or not. The groups will be told the same thing and the task will be carried out in the same room.

Measuring variables

The task will be timed therefore a time will be recorded. I will make sure the time is recorded accurately by the computer to the nearest second


I will be using the Mann-Whitney test. I have chosen this test because it tests for the difference in two conditions. The data can also be converted to ordinal data there- for can be evaluated easily.


I will debrief each participant after they have completed the task and answer any questions they might have.


I chose to research the effects of social facilitation because I’ve always wondered how and why the presence of people can affect your performance when carrying out tasks especially in the area of sports.

Social facilitation is a term used for the presence of others can increase arousal and therefore enhance dominant responses.

Previous Research

Zajonc’s drive theory of social facilitation. As we have seen the presence of others, especially when they are paying close attention to our performance as an interested audience, does seem to increase the feelings of arousal. Zajonc put forward a theory to explain this: First the arousal increases dominant responses. Second is the response can either be correct or incorrect. Also if it is found that the people are skilled in the task they will perform better than people less skilled.

In his study people were asked to pronounce words between one and sixteen times, some of the words were more “dominant” than others, and these were said to be pronounced more frequently. The speed at which the words were shown was increased some going at even a hundredth of a second, so they had to guess the word.

The results found that if a audience was present participants were more likely to guess “dominant” words

Allport asked participants to write down as many associations as they could think of for words printed on the top of an otherwise blank piece of paper, (e.g. “building”, “”laboratory”) They were allowed to work for three one minute periods and performed alone and in front of two other persons. Results were quite clear : 93% of the participants produced more associations when working in the presence of others than working alone.

Zajonc also trained cockroaches to run towards a light in a clear lucite t-maze. An “audience box” was located beneath the t-maze where the ‘roach marathoners could see, and presumably smell, their colleagues. ‘Roaches ran their t-mazes faster and more accurately with an audience of their fellow ‘roaches than when no audience was present.

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