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AT Psychology Class Experiments

Carly Kessler

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Since January, Ms. Plunkett’s AT Psychology class has been working on their final: an experimental research project. The students have utilized standard experimental methods that match those of real psychologists as they completed their very own studies.

Groups of psychology students performed their respective experiments on peers, often visiting other classes. For example, Fletcher Faden ’19, Katie Nova ’19 and Natalie Appel ’19 visited several social studies classes to measure racial bias in hiring practices within SHS. They showed photos of people of different ethnicities, asking their peers which of the given people they would hire as a gym teacher, as a math teacher, and as a principal. The results were significant, meaning that the results were not simply by chance: the African-American woman was chosen most, the Asian woman chosen least, and caucasian subjects rarely “hired” other caucasian people. Similarly, another study by Hannah Lamport ’19 and Abigail Vetrone ’19 evaluated bias by measuring the extent to which students “trusted” people in photos, half with tattoos, and half without tattoos. The rate of credibility for people with tattoos was significantly lower than for people without them, yet the trustworthiness for women with a tattoo was higher than that for men. In another study, Anna Levy ’18, Merritt Shelton ’18 and Emma Carnicelli ’18 studied “Fake News” by creating a fake Buzzfeed article, stating that males make for better CEOs, to measure how much the media can reinforce stereotypes. The girls surveyed several SHS students to examine whether the “article” affected their stance, yet found that the answers were incongruous to their hypothesis: students did not report that men were better CEO’s after reading the media. There were many other group studies executed with scientific research for every school of psychology, ranging from social psychology to educational psychology.

The class thoroughly enjoyed their time engaging in the studies, and finally being able to immerse themselves in topics that truly interested them. After spending the year studying statistical analysis, research methods, ethics and socio-political and developmental psychology, the students were able to put their knowledge to the test. “Throughout the year, we have been reading and discussing studies by real psychologists. Writing our own seemed unfathomable, but they all turned out great. It was nice to see all of our knowledge culminate into something so impressive.” remarked SHS AT Psychology student Emma Townsend ’19. Hard work paid off, and now the students are excited to show off their contributions to the world of experimental psychology.

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