The major assignment for HPS301/781 casts you into the role of a Research Psychologist. You will be required to analyse some data obtained from a research study and to write a report based on your findings. The assignment must be presented as a formal laboratory report (see example lab report on CloudDeakin and/or https://www.deakin.edu.au/students/studying/study-support/academic-skills/reading-and-writing-for-science) and should contain an abstract, introduction, method, results, discussion, and reference sections. Given that this is a Research Methods unit, the assessment of your report will focus primarily on the results and discussion sections and this is reflected in the weighting of marks (see below).
Thus, the primary aims of this assignment are to:
- Develop your skills in using appropriate statistical techniques to test a specific research question,
- Broaden your understanding of research designs,
- Develop your report writing skills; particularly the ability to report statistical results, the ability to interpret statistical results in the context of past research, and to integrate previous work into a structured argument.
A secondary aim is to apply the work you have been undertaking in HPS301/781 to a ‘real world’ problem in psychological research. Hopefully, you will come to appreciate the way we use statistical methods to help answer questions about important issues.
We will provide you with the data set early in the trimester (it is available now – see below), as well as information about the study methods, and specific research questions.
Your task will be to analyse the data and then write a lab report on the results. Thus, you will need to draw on the skills you have been developing over the course of the trimester. You can consult the Seminar Activity Instructions documents on CloudDeakin for help with analysing the data and interpreting your output. Furthermore, a Zoom session (date to be advised in a News post) will be scheduled closer to the due date for any student queries regarding the assignment.
The main focus of the assessment is on your ability to understand, analyse and interpret the appropriate statistical analyses to test the hypotheses and to report the results correctly. Overall, your ability to write a psychology laboratory report (following APA conventions) as a whole will be assessed. The necessary readings for AT1 can be found in the Lab Report section of the HPS301/781 CloudDeakin site. There is no need to go beyond these readings, but you are welcome to source additional readings if you want.
8pm, Wednesday, December 15th, submitted via CloudDeakin.
The assignment is to be submitted as a word document or pdf (.docx OR .pdf), as well as your syntax file (can be a separate file or you can copy your syntax into your lab report at the end – call it an Appendix) to the CloudDeakin dropbox for the HPS301/781 site. The purpose of this is so we can see which analyses you have run in Jamovi, and if the analyses match the results. You can request this in Jamovi by turning on “syntax mode” using the + menu.
The dropbox will activate closer to the due date.
For this task you must submit a lab report that includes the sections outlined below. The word limit is 2,000 words (excluding your Abstract, Reference list, and any Appendices) with a 10% leeway (this means that no marks can be awarded for work beyond 2,200 words). HPS781 students please note that you have an additional 500 words for your reflection piece (see the last section of these instructions).
Please ensure that you submit your work as a typed/word processed document, using a standard font (Times-New Roman) and suitable font size (12 pt) with double-line spacing. Your document should be formatted with 2.5 cm margins on each side. Please make sure that you spell-check AND carefully proofread your work prior to submission. For guidance with APA formatting, see this APA style guide (thankyou Dr. Michael Do), and the example lab report referred to above.
This assignment is worth 40% of the total grade for this unit.
Unit Learning Outcomes
The assignment assesses (ULO2), as students will need to autonomously conduct appropriate statistical analyses given specific research questions. As this assignment is a lab report, students will be required to defend conclusions drawn from obtained results (in the Discussion section) (ULO3). Finally, as a lab report, students will be expected to adhere to APA style guidelines (ULO4)
Background to the study
Aggressive behaviours often coexist within other relationships, and how we treat each other can reflect how we have been treated in the past – the old saying, “hurt people hurt people” rings true. One of the more interesting ways that this can present isn’t in how people treat their enemies, but how they treat their friends. What might make someone act aggressively with their friends and co-workers? Is it predictable? Your task is to consider the phenomenon known as relational aggression and evaluate the use of simple demographic and psychological factors as a means to predict different type of relational aggression.
In this study, you will build on previous research, examine these questions and try to better understand relational aggression.
- Your lab report should address the following questions:
- Do demographics and psychological distress factors predict relational aggression?
- Do predictive models differ between relational aggression subtypes?
References (click to access them)
Please note that while you are free to examine other sources if you wish, you are not required to. We have also prepared a reading guide to help glean the important parts of these papers.
Mathieson & Crick 2010
Marsee, Weems, & Taylor 2008
Lab Report Sections
You are required to submit a formal laboratory report for this assessment. The sections of the report are detailed below. As this is a research methods unit, the majority of the marks (70) are allocated to the results and discussion sections. Thus, your ability to report the results correctly and then interpret them appropriately is the main focus of the assessment.
Abstract (5 marks)
The abstract should be a summary of the rationale, methods, results, and conclusions of the report. This should be no longer than 150 words (no leeway here).
Things to include in this section…
- A brief statement of the study aim(s) [the word limit is too brief to include hypotheses]
- Important to mention which variables (not scale names) were measured (i.e., age, gender, relational aggression, and psychological distress), and also mention how many people participated in the study.
- Make reference to the method of statistical analysis (e.g., ‘Multiple regression analyses revealed that…’)
- State a broad conclusion drawn from the findings which is related to either prior theory or your study aim(s).
Introduction (15 marks)
Things to include in this section…
The introduction needs to provide a succinct review of the literature on relational aggression subtypes, psychological distress and demographic factors associated with relational aggression, and end with specific hypotheses related to the research questions. The reader should come away from your introduction with a good understanding of the constructs being examined and why they should be the subject of research (i.e. why do we care?).
The most important thing to remember is that the introduction is providing an argument for the hypotheses to follow. Thus, you will need to develop specific hypotheses which address the research questions listed above. Each component of the hypotheses should be argued for in the introduction, and the hypotheses should flow smoothly and compellingly from the literature you have presented.
Questions to guide critical reading of references and write up of the Introduction section to your report:
- What is relational aggression? Is there more than one type?
- What types of factors (What sources of variance) contribute to relational aggression?
- What evidence is there for the impact of these factors in relational aggression subtypes?
- Based on the above points, what would you think you will observe in your analyses? Be as specific as you can be!
The purpose of the introduction is to convince your reader that the research is necessary and will add to our understanding.
Method (5 marks)
In the method section you need to describe the participants, measures, and procedures which were utilised in the study. The important point to remember when writing a method section is that you need to provide enough information so that the experiment can be replicated by another researcher. We have provided the information pertaining to the measures and procedure for you to insert into your method section (view and download here: Method – T3 2021). However, you will need to report on the sample size, age (include age range, Mean age and SD), gender distribution (raw numbers and percentage) of the participants by analysing our data-file.
Your data will include some variables that are ready to be analysed in their current form. Pay close attention to any instructions the method section might give for calculating total scores from individual items and use the “Compute” function in Jamovi to help you out. Hint: You can easily make summed scale values by using the SUM command and make averaged values by using the MEAN command.
Results (35 marks)
Along with the discussion, this is the major component of the report and you will be assessed on your ability to conduct and report the statistical procedures. Thus, here you need to present the results of the study – only present and describe them; there should be no interpretation of the data at this point.
There are really two parts to the results section.
- In the first, you should present the descriptive statistics for all variables in your multiple regression analysis. Include key descriptives such as means, standard deviations, and min/max values. Briefly (1-2 sentences) explain what you see in terms of means, range and/or SD (without repeating the statistics from the table) for the interpretability of your inferential stats.
- In the second part, you will present a multiple regression analysis (preceded by a correlation table). Make sure that these results are directly linked with your hypotheses (e.g., ‘Multiple regression analyses were conducted to test … It was found that …’). See your Seminars for how to write these analyses up. While you can do the relevant assumption tests for your own interest, such tests are not required for this assessment task (we have already examined them).
As the trimester progresses, you will become familiar with the specific analyses that you will be conducting to answer your research questions:
- Do demographic factors and psychological distress variables predict reactive relational aggression?
- Do demographic factors and psychological distress variables predict proactive relational aggression?
- Conduct a multiple regression to answer these question. You will need to consider the directions of some predictors (but not necessarily all). You will also need to decide between a standard multiple regression and a hierarchical multiple regression (the argument put forward in your Introduction should justify this choice).
For each analysis you are required to report the results in the conventional manner (see your Seminar materials on CloudDeakin for illustrative examples of how to report the various statistical tests in APA format).
Discussion (35 marks)
The findings of the study should be discussed in relation to the aims and hypotheses presented in the introduction. You also need to discuss the findings with reference to prior research, in particular the literature that was cited in your introduction. There should be clear statements as to whether the hypotheses were supported.
It is generally a good idea to discuss one or two limitations. However, these limitations should be relevant to your specific research design rather than generic limitations (such as ‘correlation/regression does not imply causality’ or ‘the sample size was not large enough’). Even better is to be able to tie these limitations to future research directions.
Questions to help you write up your discussion section:
- How do the present findings inform your research question(s)? (i.e., were the hypotheses supported? What do the results mean?)
- How do findings advance current knowledge in this area?
- What might explain any unexpected findings, or how might you further explore them?
- Were there any factors that may limit the conclusions you draw from this data?
- What findings were most important, and what is the big picture conclusion drawn from this study?
Scientific writing style etc. (5 marks)
This will also be assessed independently as well as within the demonstration of other criteria.
The word limit is 2,000 words (excluding your Abstract, Reference list, and any Appendices) with a 10% leeway. It is nonetheless important to be concise in your writing.
[Things to include here: overall sample size, gender distribution (raw number and percentage), age range, average and standard deviation].
Participants were asked to enter their age in whole years.
Participants were asked to describe their gender identity. Gender identity was coded as female = 1, male = 2, and non-binary = 3.
Relational aggression was assessed using the Self Report of Aggression and Social Behaviour Measure (SRASBM; Morales and Crick (1998) as cited in Murray-Close et al., (2010). The measure included 9 items classified into 2 subtypes, 4 items measuring proactive relational aggression, e.g. “My friends know I will think less of them if they do not do what I want them to do,” and 5 items measuring reactive relational aggression, e.g., “I have intentionally ignored a person until they gave me my way about something”. Each item was rated on an 8-point Likert scale, with higher scores indicating higher levels of behaviours (0= not at all true, 4 = sometimes, 7 = very true), and the mean of each subscale is used as the summary score. Scale reliability was good; α = .83 (Murray-Close et al., 2010).
The Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS-21; Lovibond & Lovibond, 1993) consists of 21 negative emotional symptoms, purported to measure depression, anxiety, and stress. Participants rate the extent to which they have experienced each symptom over the past week, on a 4-point severity/frequency scale. Scores for the individual subscales are determined by summing the scores for the relevant seven items, and an overall measure of psychological distress is determined by summing the values of each individual item. Example items include “I found it hard to wind down”, “I was aware of dryness of my mouth”, and “I couldn’t seem to experience any positive feeling at all”. The observed internal consistency coefficients for the three seven-item factors are α = 0.91, α = 0.84, and α = 0.90, respectively.
Participants were undergraduate Deakin psychology students, and their family and friends who were invited to participate via word of mouth or social media advertisements. Participants who consented to take part in the study were provided a link to the questionnaire, which was hosted on an online survey platform (Qualtrics). Data collection began on March 1st, 2021 and concluded in October 2021.