Author J.K. Rowling, creator of the Harry Potter series of books, has said,
“the Potter books in general are a prolonged argument for tolerance, a prolonged plea for an end to bigotry.” (source)
How well does Rowling's intended tolerance message resonate with readers? In three correlational and experimental studies, researchers in Italy tested the effect of these books on the tolerance of schoolchildren (5th graders and high schoolers). All three of the studies showed that reading the books was associated with, or even caused, higher tolerance, but only for certain students. Get ready for a moderator!
The New York Daily News described the one of the studies this way:
117 Italian high school students were asked how many of the books they had read, and were also questioned about their emotional connections to Harry as a character and their attitudes toward homosexuals. In this case, the people
who had read more of the series and identified with Harry had a more positive attitude toward the LGBT community.(emphasis added)
a) Is this a correlational study or an experiment?
b) What is the moderator in this outcome? Sketch a little moderator table, similar to those you saw in Chapter 8, that depicts these results.
Here's another study.
Italian fifth graders were asked to fill out a survey on their attitudes toward immigration and then [randomly] split into two groups.Half of the students met with researchers and discussed passages from the "Harry Potter" books that handled prejudice, while the others talked about unrelated sections...The researchers found that the students who read the prejudice-related parts, and felt drawn to the series' namesake, showed "improved attitudes towards immigrants."
c) Is this study an experiment, or a correlational study? What are the three variables?
d) You should be able to sketch the results of this study's interaction (another term for a moderator) following the samples in Chapter 12. Sketch a line or bar graph, showing how identifying with Harry is the moderator.
Here's the third study. This one is the hardest to figure out, since the journalist includes less detail:
Finally, a group of college students in the U.K. was asked about their attitude toward refugees, another marginalized group. In this study, the participants' feelings hinged on how much they hated the nefarious Voldemort.
Those who identified less with Voldemort demonstrated "improved attitudes toward refugees," researchers said.
e) What questions do you need to ask to decide whether this is an experiment or a correlational study? What do you think are the main variables?
f) Assuming that one of the variables is "how many Harry Potter books people read," sketch a graph of the results of this study--following either Chapter 8's moderator examples, or Chapter 12's interaction examples.
Thanks to Jeong Min Lee from the University of Delaware for this suggestion!