Dull vs. Bright Rats: A Biased Experiment essay

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Assignment 2

Part I

  1. The major reason for conducting this experiment was to help students or experimenters acquire the essential skills and learn various methods of getting the same results over and over again or duplicating them. Other reasons included learning how to work with rats without hesitation and how to become thoroughly familiar with working with animals while collecting researching findings of any given experiment.
  2. The research itself included seven mini experiments. The independent variables for all of them were rats as the subject, the environment they were placed in (running after the magazine, the pellet feeder), and the number of rats experimented on.
  3. The four ways in which this study differed from Rosenthal and Fode’s (1963) study are:
    1. The two studies were done at different time periods and therefore utilized different technology, tools, and resources.
    2. The present study lasted 8 weeks whereas Rosenthal study lasted for a week. Also, the time spent with Ss was an average of 14 hours which is longer than the average period of five hours in the study of 1963.
    3. In the earlier study, Es had an open hand on the Ss and were not observed by professors or lab monitors which could allow cheating. However, presently, all Es were strictly observed at all times and this also led to the rats being treated fairly as any abuse was pointed out by monitors.
    4. In the newer study, all experimenters were under pressure to do well, or rather to have their subjects do well, since their grades depended on the rats’ performance. This way, Es had an incentive to conduct the experiment fairly and with greater motivation. This was not the case in the previous study since if the rats did not do well, then they were just labeled as eternally dull without a chance to improve.
  4. This study is best described as both longitudinal and experimental. It is longitudinal because these kinds of studies are done over a long period of time, often from a few weeks to even a few years, to reach desired goals or see results. The study is also experimental because such studies involve finding out if a certain intervention or control of any part of the experiment can produce the intended results or any results at all. This was clearly both in the case of this experiment, since there was a goal to find out if the rats would improve in behavior under certain conditions and the time period lasted eight weeks.
  5. The main finding of the experiment was that the subject rats which were labeled “bright” at the beginning of the experiment performed better than the rats labeled as “dull”.
  6. There were some differences between experimenters with “bright” and “dull” subjects. These were:
    1. Es who thought their Ss were brighter showed greater satisfaction compared to the other Es with duller Ss. Therefore, they were labeled as being brighter during evaluation as well.
    2. Es that had brighter Ss gave themselves much credit for being diligent and communicating with their Ss more frequently and better than the other Es. They also considered themselves friendlier, more enthusiastic, and encouraging.
    3. During the open-ended question, it was discovered that the Es that had brighter Ss were happier with their work, enjoyed it more, and felt confident about the results. In contrast, Es with dull Ss had more difficulty with the experiment and some refused to comment altogether.
  7. Confirmation bias plays a significant role in this study because both the Es and the instructors demonstrated bias towards the Ss and the experiment on the whole. The way the Es handled their Ss was based on the bias of whether or not they saw the Ss as bright or dull. Also, the instructors treated the Es with dull rats differently often helping them more or providing them with better in-depth instructions than the other group. Even the Es themselves noticed these differences.
  8. In my opinion, a problem with the research methodology used in the study was that there was no balance of experiments that the Es underwent. That is, the Es who worked with bright rats the entire time should have worked with the dull rats for an equal period of time to see how their attitudes and the experiment would be affected. The same switch should have been done with the Es working with dull rats. This would have made the experiment more balanced and wholesome.
  9. Another future research idea to add to the experiment would be to monitor which kinds of effect on the Ss  were produced by what types of sounds and rewards. This is important to know because the Ss will not react to all sounds similarly. Therefore, the difference needs to be targeted in order to see what is triggering both positive and negative responses. Also, instead of focusing solely on the incentive and reward, providing mates or fellow company could be a better reward triggering all sorts of activity and response times. This idea is also important since Es can see how controlling the Ss in different ways can produce varying results.

Part II

Title: Dull vs. Bright Rats: A Biased Experiment

Part III

Abstract

Duplicating experiments multiple times, the study was aimed at training students in finding essential information without giving up or hesitating to work with animals, especially rats. With independent variables including rats, pellet feeders, time passed during experiments, and data acquired and analyzed, the experimenters’ aim was to find out whether “dull” rats could be trained to be equal to the “bright” subjects. In contrast to the similar Rosenthal-Fode study done in 1963, the experimenters had more advanced technology, better controlled environments due to instructor supervision, and there was a constant pressure on experimenters’ subjects to do well in order for the experimenters to succeed academically. After a period of eight weeks, it was concluded that the “bright” rats indeed did remarkably well in contrast to the “dull” ones, even though they made more progress compared to the findings of the previous experiment (1963). However, the implications are not as obvious as they may seem since the experiment was filled with biases such as experimenters with “bright” rats favoring them from the start and feeling confident throughout the duration of the study, the experimenters with “dull” rats giving up easily, and the instructors’ intrusion in the experiments.

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