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Discussion questions for cask of amontillado

t is also possible to assess the impact of the pretest directly with a combination of both the posttest-only and the pretest-posttest design. In this design, half the participants receive only the posttest, and the other half receive both the pretest and the posttest (see Figure 8.1). This is formally called a Solomon four-group design. If there is no impact of the pretest, the posttest scores will be the same in the two control groups (with and without the pretest) and in the two experimental groups. Garvin and Damson (2008) employed a Solomon four-group design to study the effect of viewing female fitness magazine models on a measure of depressed mood. Female college students spent 30 minutes viewing either the fitness magazines or magazines such as National Geographic. Two possible outcomes of this study are shown in Figure 8.2. The top graph illustrates an outcome in which the pretest has no impact: The fitness magazine viewing results in higher depression in both the posttest-only and the pretest-posttest condition. This is what was found in the study. The lower graph shows an outcome in which there is a difference between the treatment and control groups when there is a pretest, but there is no group difference when the pretest is absent.

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Solomon four-group design


Examples of outcomes of Solomon four-group design

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Recall that there are two basic ways of assigning participants to experimental conditions. In one procedure, participants are randomly assigned to the various conditions so that each participates in only one group. This is called an independent groups design. It is also known as a between-subjects design because comparisons are made between different groups of participants. In the other procedure, participants are in all conditions. In an experiment with two conditions, for example, each participant is assigned to both levels of the independent variable. This is called a repeated measures design,because each participant is measured after receiving each level of the independent variable. You will also see this called a within-subjects design; in this design, comparisons are made within the same group of participants (subjects). In the next two sections, we will examine each of these designs in detail.


In an independent groups design, different participants are assigned to each of the conditions using random assignment. This means that the decision to assign an individual to a particular condition is completely random and beyond the control of the researcher. For example, you could ask for the participant's month of birth; individuals born in odd-numbered months would be assigned to one group and those born in even-numbered months would be assigned to the other group. In practice, researchers use a sequence of random numbers to determine assignment. Such numbers come from a random number generator such as Research Randomizer, available online at or QuickCalcs at; Excel can also generate random numbers. These programs allow you to randomly determine the assignment of each participant to the various groups in your study. Random assignment will prevent any systematic biases, and the groups can be considered equivalent in terms of participant characteristics such as income, intelligence, age, personality, and political attitudes. In this way, participant differences cannot be an explanation for results of the experiment. As we noted in Chapter 4, in an experiment on the effects of exercise on anxiety, lower levels of Page 169anxiety in the exercise group than in the no-exercise group cannot be explained by saying that people in the groups are somehow different on characteristics such as income, education, or personality.

An alternative procedure is to have the same individuals participate in all of the groups. This is called a repeated measures experimental design.


Consider an experiment investigating the relationship between the meaningfulness of material and the learning of that material. In an independent groups design, one group of participants is given highly meaningful material to learn and another group receives less meaningful material. For example, the meaningful material might include a story relating the material to a real-life event. In a repeated measures design, the same individuals participate in both conditions. Thus, participants might first read low-meaningful material and take a recall test to measure learning; the same participants would then read high-meaningful material and take the recall test. You can see why this is called a repeated measures design; participants are repeatedly measured on the dependent variable after being in each condition of the experiment.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Repeated Measures Design

The repeated measures design has several advantages. An obvious one is that fewer research participants are needed, because each individual participates in all conditions. When participants are scarce or when it is costly to run each individual in the experiment, a repeated measures design may be preferred. In much research on perception, for instance, extensive training of participants is necessary before the actual experiment can begin. Such research often involves only a few individuals who participate in all conditions of the experiment.

An additional advantage of repeated measures designs is that they are extremely sensitive to finding statistically significant differences between groups. This is because we have data from the same people in both conditions. To illustrate why this is important, consider possible data from the recall experiment. Using an independent groups design, the first three participants in the high-meaningful condition had scores of 68, 81, and 92. The first three participants in the low-meaningful condition had scores of 64, 78, and 85. If you calculated an average score for each condition, you would find that the average recall was a bit higher when the material was more meaningful. However, there is a lot of variability in the scores in both groups. You certainly are not finding that everyone in the high-meaningful condi

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