9.63 | Fall 2002 | Undergraduate

Laboratory in Cognitive Science


The readings listed below are the foundation of this course. Where available, journal article abstracts from PubMed (an online database providing access to citations from biomedical literature) are included.


Meltzoff, Julian. Critical Thinking About Research. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 1998.

Holcomb, Zealure C. Interpreting Basic Statistics - a guide based on excerpts from journal articles. Los Angeles: Pyrczak Publishing, 1998.

The publication manual of the American Psychological Association. Arlington, VA.

Experimental papers to be distributed in class.

Dutton, D.G. and A.P. Aron, “Some evidence for heightened sexual attraction under conditions of high anxiety.” J Pers Soc Psychol, 1974. 30(4): p. 510-7.

Kim, I.K. and E.S. Spelke, “Infants’ sensitivity to effects of gravity on visible object motion.” J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform, 1992. 18(2): p. 385-93.

PubMed abstract: A preference method probed infants’ perception of object motion on an inclined plane. Infants viewed videotaped events in which a ball rolled downward (or upward) while speeding up (or slowing down). Then infants were tested with events in which the ball moved in the opposite direction with appropriate or inappropriate acceleration. Infants aged 7 months, but not 5 months, looked longer at the test event with inappropriate acceleration, suggesting emerging sensitivity to gravity. A further study tested whether infants appreciate that a stationary object released on an incline moves downward rather than upward; findings again were positive at 7 months and negative at 5 months. A final study provided evidence, nevertheless, that 5-month-old infants discriminate downward from upward motion and relate downward motion in videotaped events to downward motion in live events. Sensitivity to certain effects of gravity appears to develop in infancy.

Introduction to experimental research and problems of control

Weiss, J.M., “Effects of coping responses on stress.” J Comp Physiol Psychol, 1968. 65(2): p. 251-60.

Sigall and Ostrove , “Beautiful but Dangerous Effects of Offender Attractiveness and Nature of the Crime on Juridic Judgment.” J. Personality and Social Psychology, 1975, Vol. 31, 1975

Experimental design - I

Blakemore, C. and G.F. Cooper, “Development of the brain depends on the visual environment.” Nature, 1970. 228(270): p. 477-8.

Merikle, P.M. and H.E. Skanes, “Subliminal self-help audiotapes: a search for placebo effects.” J Appl Psychol, 1992. 77(5): p. 772-6.

PubMed abstract: Subliminal self-help audiotapes to aid weight loss were evaluated to determine if their apparent effectiveness is due to a placebo effect. All subjects were female students or staff who were both overweight and believed in the possible effectiveness of subliminal audiotapes. Three different groups of subjects were tested: One group listened to subliminal audiotapes purchased directly from a manufacturer, the 2nd group listened to comparable placebo tapes, and the 3rd group did not listen to any tapes at all. Each subject in each group was weighed once each week for 5 weeks. All 3 groups of subjects lost weight, and the average amount of weight lost by each group was approximately equivalent. These results provide no evidence that regular use of subliminal audiotapes leads to a placebo effect. Rather, the results suggest that regular use of subliminal audiotapes may simply make subjects more conscious of their weight.

Rauscher, F.H., G.L. Shaw, and K.N. Ky, “Music and spatial task performance.” Nature, 1993. 365(6447): p. 611.

Steele, K.M., T.N. Ball, and R. Runk, “Listening to Mozart does not enhance backwards digit span performance.” Percept Mot Skills, 1997. 84 (3 Pt 2): p. 1179-84.

PubMed abstract: Rauscher, Shaw, and Ky recently reported that exposure to brief periods of music by Mozart produced a temporary increase in performance on tasks taken from the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale-IV. The present study examined whether this effect occurred in performance on a backwards digit span task. In a within-subjects design 36 undergraduates were exposed to 10-min. periods of Mozart music, a recording of rain, or silence. After each stimulus period, undergraduates had three attempts to hear and recall different 9-digit strings in reverse order. No significant differences among treatment conditions were found. There was a significant effect of practice. Results are discussed in terms of the need to isolate the conditions responsible for production of the Mozart effect.

Data analysis - I

Babich, F. R., A. L. Jacobson, S. Bubash, and A. Jacobson. “Transfer of a response to naive rats by injection of ribonucleic acid extracted from trained rats.” In Science 149. 1965, pp. 656-657.

Babich, F. R., A. L. Jacobson, and S. Bubash. “Cross-species transfer of learning: effects of ribonucleic acid from hamsters on rat behavior.” In Proc. nat. Acad. Sci. (Wash.) 54. 1965, pp. 1299-1302.

Ungar, G., and L. N. Irwin. “Transfer of acquired information by brain extracts.” In Nature (Land.) 214. 1967, pp. 453-455.

Hartry, A. L., P. Keith-Lee, and W. W. Morton. “Planaria: memory transfer through cannibalism re- examined.” In Science 146. 1964, pp. 274-275.

Byrne, W. T., et al. “Memory transfer.” In Science 153. 1966. pp. 658-659.

Bransford and Johnson, “Contextual Prerequisites for Understanding: Some Investigations of Comprehension and Recall!” J of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior 11, 1972; or other ANOVA study

Experimental design - II

Wollen et al, “Bizarreness versus Interaction of Mental Images as Determinants of Learning.” Cognitive Psychology 3, 1972

Context Dependent Memory in two natural environments: On land and underwater. J BR Psychology 66 Godden and Baddeley, 1975

Data analysis - II

Riskind and Maddux, “Loomingness, Helplessness, and Fearfulness: An Integration of Harm-Looming and Self-Efficacy Models of Fear.” J of Social and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 12, No. 1, 1993

Gunter, Berry and Clifford, “Proactive Interference Effects With Television News Items: Further Evidence.” J Experimental Psychology: Human Learing and Memory, vol. 7, 1981

Correlational research

Eron et al, “Does Television Violence cause Aggression?American Psychologist . Ann. 1972

Bouchard, T.J., Jr. and M. McGue, “Familial studies of intelligence: a review.” Science, 1981. 212(4498): p. 1055-9.

PubMed abstract: A summary of 111 studies identified in a survey of the world literature on familial resemblances in measured intelligence reveals a profile of average correlations consistent with a polygenic mode of inheritance. There is, however, a marked degree of heterogeneity of the correlations within familial groupings, which is not moderated by sex of familial pairing or by type of intelligence test used.

Small N designs

Wagaman, J.R., R.G. Miltenberger, and R.E. Arndorfer, “Analysis of a simplified treatment for stuttering in children.” J Appl Behav Anal, 1993. 26(1): p. 53-61.

PubMed abstract: We investigated the effectiveness of a simplified program for the treatment of stuttering in children. The simplified treatment included awareness training, in which the subjects learned to detect every occurrence of stuttering; training a response incompatible with stuttering, which involved relaxation and regulation of air flow over the larynx when speaking; and social support, which involved parent-delivered prompts and praise of children’s use of the techniques in everyday environments. Eight children were treated in their homes with the simplified treatment, in a multiple baseline across subjects design, and all reached the criterion level of less than 3% words stuttered. In addition, the reduction in stuttering generalized to the school setting and was maintained at posttreatment (10 to 13 months). The subjects’ rates of speech remained stable throughout baseline and treatment. Pretreatment and posttreatment ratings by the parents showed that they found treatment to be both acceptable and credible. Finally, social validity measures revealed a noticeable improvement in the subjects’ speech to parents and speech pathologists.

De Luca, R.V. and S.W. Holborn, “Effects of a variable-ratio reinforcement schedule with changing criteria on exercise in obese and nonobese boys.” J Appl Behav Anal, 1992. 25(3): p. 671-9.

PubMed abstract: The effects of a variable-ratio schedule of reinforcement on pedaling a a stationary exercise bicycle were examined. Three obese and three nonobese 11-year-old boys were individually tested five times weekly for approximately 12 weeks. A changing-criterion design was used in which each successive criterion was increased over mean performance rate in the previous phase by approximately 15%. The contingencies of the successive criteria resulted in systematic increases in rate of exercise for all children. Final variable-ratio rates were higher than those under fixed ratios found in previous research, with rates for 2 of the 3 obese boys approximating those of the nonobese.

Hume, K.M. and J. Crossman, “Musical reinforcement of practice behaviors among competitive swimmers.” J Appl Behav Anal, 1992. 25(3): p. 665-70.

PubMed abstract: This study determined whether music could be used as a reinforcer for increasing productive and decreasing nonproductive behavior of 6 competitive swimmers during the dry-land portion of practice session. The swimmers were randomly assigned to either the contingent reinforcement group, who received music for productive behavior, or the noncontingent group, who received music regardless of their training productivity. An ABAB design showed that a large and immediate increase in productive practice behavior and decrease in nonproductive practice behavior occurred during the contingent phase compared to the baseline phase. Subjects rated the musical reinforcement favorably and elected to have the procedure continued.

Quasi-experimental designs/ Applied research/ Descriptive research

Wood, J.M., et al., “Effects of the 1989 San Francisco earthquake on frequency and content of nightmares.” J Abnorm Psychol, 1992. 101(2): p. 219-24.

PubMed abstract: In a systematic evaluation of the effects of a natural disaster on nightmares, nightmare frequency was found to be about twice as high among 92 San Francisco Bay area college students as among 97 control subjects in Tucson, Arizona, after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Subjects in California had not only more nightmares in general but substantially more nightmares about earthquakes. Over a 3-week period, about 40% of those in the San Francisco Bay area reported one or more nightmares about an earthquake, as compared with only 5% of those in Arizona. However, nightmares about earthquakes were not more emotionally intense than other nightmares. These findings support the long-held view that the experience of a potentially traumatic event can result in more frequent nightmares, particularly about the event itself, but contradict the common opinion that nightmares about such events are unusually intense.

Hall and Veccia, “More ‘Touching’ Observations: New Insights on Men, Women, and Interpersonal Touch.” J Personality and Social psychology vol.59, 1990

Ulrich, R.S., “View through a window may influence recovery from surgery.” Science, 1984. 224(4647): p. 420-1.

PubMed abstract: Records on recovery after cholecystectomy of patients in a suburban Pennsylvania hospital between 1972 and 1981 were examined to determine whether assignment to a room with a window view of a natural setting might have restorative influences. Twenty-three surgical patients assigned to rooms with windows looking out on a natural scene had shorter postoperative hospital stays, received fewer negative evaluative comments in nurses’ notes, and took fewer potent analgesics than 23 matched patients in similar rooms with windows facing a brick building wall.

Ethics in conducting and reporting research

Middlemist, R.D., E.S. Knowles, and C.F. Matter, “Personal space invasions in the lavatory: suggestive evidence for arousal.” J Pers Soc Psychol, 1976. 33(5): p. 541-6.

PubMed abstract: The hypothesis that personal space invasions produce arousal was investigated in a field experiment. A men’s lavatory provided a setting where norms for privacy were salient, where personal space invasions could occur in the case of men urinating, where the opportunity for compensatory responses to invasion were minimal, and where proximity-induced arousal could be measured. Research on micturation indicates that social stressors inhibit relaxation of the external urethral sphincter, which would delay the onset of micturation, and that they increase intravesical pressure, which would shorten the duration of micturation once begun. Sixty lavatory users were randomly assigned to one of three levels of interpersonal distance and their micturation times were recorded. In a three-urinal lavatory, a confederate stood immediately adjacent to a subject, one urinal removed, or was absent. Paralleling the results of a correlational pilot study, close interpersonal distances increased the delay of onset and decreased the persistence of micturation. These findings provide objective evidence that personal space invasions produce physiological changes associated with arousal.

Christensen, “Deception in Psychological Research:When Is Its Use Justified?” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Vol 14 No.4, 1988

Flawed papers - I

Meltzoff, 1-5

Flawed papers - II

Meltzoff, 6-10

Flawed papers - III

Meltzoff, 11-15

Course Info

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Fall 2002
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