Month: February 2014

Do homosexuals perceive straight people as abnormal? (In class – Karma and Salma)

Hypothesis:-Whether homosexuals perceive straight people as abnormal or not

Experiment:-There will be two groups, a control group (Group1) and an experimental group (Group2). All subjects will be homosexuals along with people (we know) who will pose as homosexuals. The subjects of each group will be placed in a separate room and they won’t be aware of the purpose of the experiment. They will be under the pretence that they are coming to discuss some social norms, and so, they should interact with the people in the room and try to be as honest as possible. Group 1 will be asked various irrelevant questions before and after the main question which is, “Do you perceive straight people as abnormal?” Group 2 will also be asked irrelevant questions before and after BUT they must be asked whether they are homosexual or not before being asked if they perceive straight people as abnormal. The people posing as subjects will try to create a comfortable atmosphere in order to receive as honest responses as possible from the participants. Independent Variable:- Order of questions to be asked  Dependent variable:- The perceptions of each subject   

Limitation:- Artificial setting that can alter the results of the experiment  Internal Validity:- Internal validity is fine since we will only change the independent variable.  External Validity:- Not so high as it would be difficult to bring in a large group of gay people who are open about their homosexuality, and also representative of their population.

This video is a bit long, but it does say a lot. “Imagine a world where being “gay” the norm and being “straight” the minority.”

“The Monster Study”

“The Monster Study,” is a basic research experiment that was initiated by Speech Pathologist Wendell Johnson in 1939. Although it is an old experiment, it reflects on the importance of ethical guidelines, and the effects of breaking them on the participant’s social perception and self-esteem. 

A group of orphans were randomly selected, and the main aim of the experiment was to prove that stuttering is not a biological phenomenon. The children were deceived about the purpose of the experiment and the cover story that they were told was that they were going to receive speech therapy. They were divided into two experimental groups and two control groups, where the independent variable was the way the children were treated; they were either de-motivated and told that they had a stuttering problem or encouraged to improve their speech. Consequently, the dependent variable was the reaction of the children to the experimenter’s comments. For six months the children in two groups were told that their speech was fine, while those in the other groups were repeatedly informed that their speech was abnormal and that they were beginning to stutter. It was found that the children in the second group actually developed speech problems and were emotionally traumatized by the experiment. Some kept their hands over their mouths when asked to speak while others refused to speak all together. Their self-esteem was completely shattered, for they learned to believe the experimenters’ negative comments.

Children from The Monster Study
Children from The Monster Study

Overtime, the experiment showed how stuttering could be induced, and that it was not biological; however, the study had been low on internal validity as there were many confounding variables that were not considered (for example, each orphan’s suggestibility). Moreover, external validity was extremely low, for the randomly selected sample of orphans was not at all representative of a certain population and the results of the study could not be generalized. Most importantly, however, the study broke a major “modern” ethical principle: informed consent; the children had agreed to participate but they were unaware of any possible negative consequences. The experiment was also far from applied research, as it was purely conducted to satisfy Johnson’s curiosity. Additionally, debriefing took place only after the children’s social cognition had been negatively altered: they fell back on school work, and interpreted everything in terms of the insecurities that had been induced.

There have been no replications of The Monster Study, and nowadays, no Institutional Review Board would allow such a study to take place. But who sets these guidelines? Isn’t it possible that what we view as ethical today will be considered unethical thirty years from now? Just like the Monster Study, there are a lot of other experiments with unpredictable negative results, so is it worth risking the psychological well being of people? It is a weird thought that most of the information that psychologists rely on today to help their patients was actually obtained in an unethical manner that harmed others.

A few pictures of other highly unethical Psychological Experiments.

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Candy Grams


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             Love Stinks Valentine’s Day event was a change. It was a divergence from the usual positive attention that Valentine’s Day receives. Growing up, my understanding of what that day represents was pretty much limited to “candy grams”. Candy grams were distributed by my school on Valentine’s Day, and they were basically a group of hearts cut out of red and pink paper, with small chocolates taped to them. Each heart had a “From” and “To” section and the person sending it would write their name and that of the person they’re sending it to. The candy grams would then be delivered to each class, where we all impatiently waited to see who had sent us chocolate! How happy we would be if the sender wrote “Secret Admirer!”  Valentine’s Day in school brought a lot of “crushes” together but it also broke a few girls’ hearts. Eventually, I realized that there was more to Valentine’s Day than candy grams; it was a day for couples to make each other feel special! Come on! That’s so lame! So people actually wait all year long to make their “significant other” feel special? If you’re really that in love, you can just celebrate your love on each others birthdays or something! There you go, two times a year instead of one! Okay, back to the event now. Love Stinks Valentine’s Day highlighted views about love (through poems), that opposed the usual wave of admiration and enthusiasm towards love. Those views may be considered a bit cynical by some people, but I personally find them realistic. For as beautiful as love may be, it certainly comes with a lot of responsibilities and attachments that can sometimes be so draining. This was the poem I liked most.

Valentine by Carol Ann Duffy

Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.

It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.

It promises light

like the careful undressing of love.


It will blind you with tears

like a lover.

It will make your reflection

a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.

Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,

possessive and faithful

as we are,

for as long as we are.

Take it.

Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,

if you like.


Its scent will cling to your fingers,

cling to your knife.

Are you a Bully too?

         It was a completely random day at school, and I somehow found myself sitting with a guy that I don’t usually see a lot. We started talking and then all of a sudden he blurt out, “You were such a terrible person in the ninth grade!!” I asked him why, and he said, “You told me I was weird, but you said it in such a terrible way!!” I was shocked at his comment because it had been three whole years since that happened (I couldn’t even remember) and he was obviously still hurt! Does that mean I was a bully?

It probably does, and it makes sense to me now! Why I bullied him, I mean. Naive Realism. I was so convinced with my own definition of “normal”, that I considered anything else as weird or bad. I gave very little value to individual differences, and as far as I was concerned, if you didn’t perceive things the same way I did, then you were wrong, and I would do my best to tell you that you are! I guess that’s why construal comes from the inevitable need to be accurate. . . Anyways, the fact that he was very introverted and sat alone all the time was a bit unfamiliar to me and I tried to explain that in terms of his character (weird), completely disregarding the situation itself. Perhaps people do that a lot. Enough times to coin a term for it, at least: “fundamental attribution error“… If my peer hadn’t approached me, I would’ve never known the negative impact that my words had on him! Think about that! How many people do we bully and not even know it? Are you a bully too? That seemingly insignificant conversation really highlighted social influence for me. The power of one word, one action, one gesture…it can linger on in a person’s mind long after the incident itself has happened. And we are part of that social influence whether we like it or not.

A video on bullying as a form of social influence.