This MSNBC article discusses the difference in life focus and how that affects one’s level of retaliation while intoxicated.
The average age of the study's 495 volunteers was 23, all of whom described themselves as social drinkers and none of whom had any past or present drug, alcohol, or psychiatric-related problems. They each took a questionnaire designed to measure which of the participants were future-focused and which were more impulsive.
a.) Why do you think the researchers made sure the participants did not have any previous drug, alcohol, or psychological issues?
b.) There were 495 volunteers. Do you think they used a biased or unbiased sampling method?
The researchers gave half the volunteers alcohol and the other half no alcohol. Each participant then played a speed reaction game with a confederate where the winner shocked the opponent. “As the game wore on, the shocks got longer and more intense, making it seem like the opponent was getting meaner and meaner with every win.” Those who were drunk retaliated more than those who were not drunk. And finally, those who were drunk and impulsive had the highest likelihood of retaliation.
The article quoted the study’s author, Brad Bushman, who summarized the results:
"The less people thought about the future, the more likely they were to retaliate, but especially when they were drunk. People who were present-focused and drunk shocked their opponents longer and harder than anyone else in the study,” Bushman explained. "Alcohol didn’t have much effect on the aggressiveness of people who were future-focused."
d.) Sketch a graph of the results, according to Bushman’s quoted description above. Could you say if there are main effects or interactions?
a.) For one thing, it’s probably not a good idea to get people drunk when they have a history of substance abuse. But also, such participant variables could possibly create unsystematic variability. This unsystematic variability would get in the way of the researchers' ability to detect a true difference between groups.
b.) It’s difficult to tell from the journalist’s description alone, but it seems like the participants self-selected for the study, a method that leads to external validity issues. This is a biased sampling method. However, the study was focused more on internal validity (comparing the drunk and sober conditions) than on external validity.
c.) IV1: Life focus (future focused vs. present focused (that is, impulsive)). This is a participant variable.
IV2: Drinking alcohol (drunk vs. sober). This is a manipulated variable.
DV: Retaliation with shocks
There are two independent variables, so it is a 2x2 factorial design.
d.) Your graph would have “degree of retaliation” on the y-axis. One of the IV’s would be on the x-axis, and the other would be the color of the lines or bars.
It seems that there is a main effect for drinking alcohol such that being drunk leads to greater retaliation than when sober. There is a main effect for life focus such that those who are present focused (impulsive) have a greater rate of retaliation than those who are future focused. And it seems that there is an interaction. For future-focused people alcohol does not make a difference, but for those who are present focused (impulsive) being drunk causes greater retaliation.
Guest post by Kate Banford, University of Delaware