AP Psychology : Research and Testing

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Psychology

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Example Questions

Example Question #161 : Research And Testing

Dr. Andrews recruited a group of 50 American, 30-month-old children from English-speaking homes. After acquiring parental permission, he tracked their acquisition of language using various tasks and observational methods. He saw each child every 6 months for three years after the initial session: 3 years (36 months), 3.5 years, 4 years, 4.5 years, 5 years, 5.5 years, and 6 years. Based on the data he collected, he hopes to determine the universal sequence in which all children acquire certain phonemes.

Suppose Dr. Andrews discovers that the sequence of phoneme acquisition he infers from his data only applies to American children instead of all children globally. This means his study lacks which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Internal validity

External validity

Anonymity

Independence

Correct answer:

External validity

Explanation:

Dr. Andrews’ study lacks external validity because his findings cannot be applied to the greater population. There is something about his sample—in this case, the fact that they all came from the United States and all were raised to speak English—that differs significantly from the greater population (i.e. not everyone in the world is a an English-speaking, American citizen); therefore, the results cannot be generalized to the entire population. A problem with internal validity would involve a problem with the proposed relationship between the measured variables (e.g. if Dr. Andrews had found that age and phoneme usage were completely unrelated or if Dr. Andrews discovered his methods for measuring phoneme acquisition were inaccurate). Anonymity is not mentioned in the description, but we can assume Dr. Andrews did not reveal any personally identifying information about his subjects; furthermore, anonymity would be unrelated to whether or not his results can be generalized to a larger group.

Example Question #162 : Research And Testing

Which of the following is an accurate definition of reliability?

Possible Answers:

A test measures all parts of a construct

A test is consistent and stable in measuring a trait

None of these

A test measures what is says that it measures

A test accurately predicts college GPA

Correct answer:

A test is consistent and stable in measuring a trait

Explanation:

A test is reliable if it consistently measures what it is intended to measure. Reliability can be tested by giving the same test to the same group of people at two different points of time or giving two forms of a test to the same group of people at different points of time. Reliability is associated with the words "consistency" and "stability." All of the other choices are definitions of validity. A test has construct validity if it measures what it says that it measures. A test has content validity if it measures all aspects of a domain. A test has criterion validity if it can make a prediction based on test scores. 

Example Question #21 : Representation, Norms, And Validity

What is the purpose of randomness during the selection process of participants for a study? 

Possible Answers:

It completely eliminates the effects of random variables

 

It ensures equal representation of all groups within a population

 

It guarantees conclusive results 

It ensures that each individual in a population has an equal chance to be chosen

Correct answer:

It ensures that each individual in a population has an equal chance to be chosen

Explanation:

The purpose of random sampling methods is to ensure that one individual does not have a greater chance of selection than any other. Although random sampling reduces the effects of random variables, like error, they are not completely eliminated. Representation is not guaranteed, but is likely heightened. Although randomness does not ensure conclusive results, it helps to validate any results of a study against one that is not random. 

Example Question #1 : Other Research Principles

Which of the following correlation values represents the strongest correlation between two variables?

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

Correlations range from  to , with  representing a perfect negative correlation and  representing a perfect positive correlation.

Statistically speaking, a correlation value of  indicates that if one variable is increasing, then the other variable is decreasing. Similarly, if one variable is likely to be present, then the other variable is unlikely to be present. There is a negative correlation between wearing a seatbelt and injury during a car accident.

Statistically speaking, a correlation value of  indicates that if one variable is increasing, then the other variable is also increasing. Similarly, if one variable is likely to be present, then the other variable is also likely to be present. There is a positive correlation between obesity and type II diabetes.

Statistically speaking, a correlation value of  indicates no relationship between the two variables.

Of the given answer choices, a correlation value of  gives the strongest evidence of correlation between the variables, even if the correlation is negative.

Example Question #1 : Other Research Principles

In an experiment, the __________ variable is manipulated to predict the dependent variable.

Possible Answers:

zero-order

independent

correlative

experimental

co-existing

Correct answer:

independent

Explanation:

In an experiment, the independent variable is the predicted cause while the dependent variable is the predicted effect. The independent variable can be manipulated by experimentors to elicit a change in the dependent variable. The dependent variable cannot be directly manipulated.

For example, in a experiment that studies the effect of soda consumption on AP exam scores, the independent variable would be the amount of soda the subject drink (easily controlled by the experimentors) and the dependent variable would be AP exam scores (the unpredictable variable being tested).

Example Question #1 : Other Research Principles

Brenda is told that she is being given a caffeine pill. However, the experimenter simply gave her an empty pill. Fifteen minutes later, Brenda reports feeling more energized. What concept explains Brenda's report?

Possible Answers:

The dummy coding effect

A lack of consciousness

The placebo effect

Rose-colored glasses phenomenon

The control effect

Correct answer:

The placebo effect

Explanation:

Brenda is experiencing the placebo effect, in that she is reporting a positive effect (more energy) when she was given a blank pill. Brenda mentally prepared herself for the expected effects of the pill, and was thus able to mimic the expected outcome despite no actual biological change.

Example Question #2 : Other Research Principles

Which is NOT a measure of variability?

Possible Answers:

variance

range

mean

standard deviation

Correct answer:

mean

Explanation:

Mean is not a measure of variability - it is a measure of central tendency, along with mode and median. Measures of variability show the spread of a data set and describe how different points are from one another, whereas measures of central tendency are representative of the data set as a whole.

Example Question #1 : Other Research Principles

A test subject is participating in an experiment in which he must choose between two buttons. Pressing Button A will reward him with $5, while pressing Button B will donate $10 to a local charity. As a researcher looks on, the test subject chooses Button B. It's possible that the experiment's findings could be affected by __________.

Possible Answers:

confounding variables

coercion

the Hawthorne effect

the placebo effect

Correct answer:

the Hawthorne effect

Explanation:

The Hawthorne effect is also known as "the observer effect." Subjects of a study will alter their behavior if they are aware they are being observed. Because the researcher was watching the experiment, it is possible that the subject behaved differently than he would have if he was not being watched.

Example Question #3 : Other Research Principles

Jessica scored  points on a test. The mean score for the test was  points with a standard deviation of . What is Jessica's z-score?

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

Jessica's z-score indicates how many standard deviations below or above the mean Jessica's test score was. Jessica's test score of 70 was less than the mean (95), so we know that the the answer must be negative.

We know that the standard deviation was , so

Jessica's z-score is 

Example Question #162 : Research And Testing

A researcher wants to observe which parts of the brain are active when a person plays piano while reading music and while playing from memory. Which imaging technology should she use?

Possible Answers:

Electroencephalogram (EEG)

Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT) scan

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Correct answer:

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan

Explanation:

A PET scan measures chemical activity in the brain.

An EEG measures brain activity by detecting waves and is typically used in sleep studies.

A CAT scan uses x-rays to take images of the brain and can be useful when looking at the brain's physical structure.

An MRI also can be used to examine the structure of the brain, but uses magnetic resonance to produce images.

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