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The reason for conducting this experiment is to first and foremost have the students or experimenters learn the essential skill and methods of getting the same results over and over again, or duplicating them. Other minor reasons include learning how to work well with rats, without hesitation, and to become thoroughly familiar with working with animals in researching findings for any given experiment.
In the total seven mini experiments, the independent variables in this study were the subject rats, the environment they were placed in (running the magazine, pellet feeder), and the number of rats experimented on.
The four ways in which this study differed from Rosenthal and Fode’s 1963 study were:
The two studies were done at different time periods and therefore utilized varying technology, tools and resources.
The present study lasted 8 weeks whereas the 1963 study was only for a week’s duration. Also, the time spent with Ss was an average of 14 hours which is longer than the average of five hours in the past study.
In the earlier study, Es had an open hand on the Ss and were not observed by professors or lab monitors, which gave way to cheating problems. However, presently, all Es were strictly observed at all times and this also led to the rats being treated fairly as any abuse was pointed out by monitors.
In the present study, all experimenters were under pressure to do well, or rather have their subjects do well, since their grades mattered on the rats’ performances. This way, Es had an incentive to conduct the experiment fairly and with all motivation. This was not the case in the past as if the rats did not do well, then they were just labeled as eternally dull, without a chance to improve.
This study is best described as both longitudinal and experimental. It is longitudinal because these kinds of studies are done over a long period of time, often from a few weeks to even a few years, to reach desired goals or see results. The study is also experimental because experimental studies involve trying to find out if a certain intervention or control on any part of the experiment had the intended results or any results at all. This was clearly both since there was a goal to find out if the rats would improve in behavior under certain conditions and the time period lasted eight weeks.
The main finding of the experiment was that the subject rats which were labeled “bright” at the beginning of the experiment performed better than the rats labeled as “dull.”
There were some differences among experimenters with “bright” subjects and those with “dull” subjects. These were:
Es who thought their Ss were brighter showed greater satisfaction compared to the other Es with duller Ss. Therefore, they readily labeled them as being brighter during evaluation as well.
Es that had brighter Ss gave themselves much credit for being diligent and communicating with their Ss more frequently and better than the other Es. They also credited themselves with being friendlier, enthusiastic and encouraging.
During the open-ended question, it was discovered that the Es that had brighter Ss were happier with their work, enjoyed it more and felt confident about the results. In contrast, Es with dull Ss had more difficulty with the experiment and some refused to comment altogether.
Confirmation bias plays a role in this study because both the Es and the instructors displayed biases to the Ss and the experiment as a whole. The way the Es handled their Ss was based on the bias of whether or not they saw the Ss as bright or dull. Also, the instructors treated the Es with dull rats differently, often helping them more or providing them with better in-depth instructions than the other group. Even the Es themselves noticed these differences in their attitudes and those of the group at large.
In my opinion, a problem with the research methodology used in the study was that there was not a balance of experiences that the Es underwent. What I mean by this is that the Es who worked with bright rats the entire time should have worked with the dull rats for an equal period of time to see how their attitudes and the experiment would be affected. The same switch should have been done with the Es working with dull rats. This would have made the experiment more balanced and whole.
Another future research idea to add onto the experiment would be to monitor what types of sounds and rewards had which kinds of actions on the Ss. This is important to know as the Ss will not just react to all sounds similarly and the difference needs to be targeted in order to see what is triggering the responses, whether positive or negative. Also, instead of focusing on only as the incentive and reward, providing mates or fellow company could be a better reward, triggering all sorts of activity and response times. This idea is also important so Es can see how controlling the Ss in different ways can have varying results.
Duplicating experiments multiple times, the study aimed to train students in finding essential information without giving up or hesitating to work with animals, especially rats. With variables including rats, pellet feeders, time passed during experiments, and data acquired and analyzed, the experimenters’ aim was to find out whether dull rats could be trained to be equal to the brighter subjects. In contrast to the similar Rosenthal-Fode study done in 1963, the experimenters had more advanced technology, better controlled environments because of instructor supervision and there was a constant pressure for experimenters’ subjects to do well in order for the experimenters to succeed academically. After a period of eight weeks, it was concluded that the brighter rats indeed did remarkably well in contrast to the duller ones, even though they made more progress compared to the 1963 findings. However, the implications are not as blatant as they seem as the experiment was filled with biases such as experimenters with bright rats favoring them from the start and feeling confident throughout the duration of the study, those with dull rats giving up easily, and the instructors intrusion in the experiments.