AP Psychology Practice Question: Chapter 1: Experiments

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AP Psychology Practice Question


Design and describe an experiment to measure the relationship between rehearsal/repetition of a list of words and later recall of that same list of words. In your answer you should formulate a hypothesis and include a description of each of the following:

  • Population
  • Subject selection
  • Independent variable
  • Dependent variable
  • Experimental group
  • Control group
  • Potential confounding variable
  • A method of reducing experimenter bias

My Response

In order to perform an experiment to test the memory of words, I would first have to create a hypothesize about how much repetition is required to memorize a list of words. My hypothesis would be that the longer a list of words is is rehearsed, the more words are remembered when a subject is asked to recall them 5 minutes later.

For the sample I would select the participants from the population randomly. I would randomly ask people to be part of the experiment without paying any regard to their gender, intelligence, or any thing else, since that would slant the experiment. Because I am not testing any of these factors, I would not want them to influence my experiment. In order to properly randomly select a sample without bias I must select from the entire population. If I only picked from high school students, I would have a biased sample. On the other hand, I could restrict my hypothesis by adding "among high school students" to it.

The independent variable is what I change as part of the experiment. In this experiment, the thing which changes as part as an experiment is the amount of time the test subject may look at the list of the words. The dependent variable is what is suppose to change as part of the experiment. In this case it is the number of words which are remembered when the subject is asked to write down the words they remembered.

I would then divide the subjects into multiple groups randomly. I would assign some of the groups to be the experimental groups, and each of the groups are allowed to look at the list of words for a different amount of time. I would then assign one of the groups to be the control group which is only allowed to look at the the list for one second.

I would then make sure all of the other variables remain the same. I would make sure the list of words was the same and presented the same way. I would make sure that there was not anything in the room which would distract the participants. In order to reduce experimental bias, I would not let the people conducting the experiment know how long the subjects looked at the list of words, because a computer would be the one showing the list of words. The computer would be pre-programmed to randomly vary the length of time the words are shown according to what group the participants are in. In addition, I would set a time limit to how long the participants may write down the words in order to keep all experiments the same. Also I would set guidelines for what constitutes a word being remembered: does it have to be spelled correctly? sound correct?

This is how I would design my experiment to test how the length of time one may look at the list of words affects how well one remembers the list. Finally, I would write down a detailed procedure and post it on my website, ThePlaz.com, in order for others to replicate and study my results.