Weeks 2–9 synopsis

You will need to find and read an empirical article related to the week’s topic to present during our discussion. The goal of this assignment is to give you some experience 1) generating theoretical implications and hypotheses based on the readings and lectures, 2) searching the scientific literature to find empirical studies that bear on these hypotheses, and 3) presenting that research in a succinct yet comprehensible manner to an audience that is entirely unfamiliar with it.

This requires using the reading and analytic skills you have been developing this year to generate hypotheses, learning how to use online databases for searching the relevant scientific literature, and figuring out how to convey just that information that will allow your classmates to evaluate the relevance of the study’s methods and results for the question it purports to address.

During discussion, your job is to report on the study to the class to further our discussion and understanding of the week’s topic. You should be prepared to explain how the research relates to the readings and lecture material, provide examples of stimuli used, explain the procedure, and graphically depict the experimental conditions and results (if sharing a powerpoint slide or two would help convey this, prepare those in advance).

Your synopsis will be the same as it was week 1, but with an additional reference and pdf:

  1. The full reference to the article in APA format
  2. An attached pdf of the article
  3. The phenomenon: Identify the scientific issue. What is the BIG, “why-do-we-care” question the authors want to understand? (e.g., in Li et al. (2014): What factors influence how we distribute resources? Given that we value equality, why do our actions often perpetuate inequality?)
  4. Specific question: What aspect of that BIG issue do the authors seek to address? (Often this is about how they position their question in relation to prior research or theory. For example: How are children’s preferences for and treatment of other people influenced by the resources those others have?)
  5. Experimental hypothesis: What is the concrete hypothesis they are testing in this study? (e.g., Children will redress inequality but only when it is obvious. Otherwise, they will favor people who are already advantaged.)
  6. How do they test this hypothesis? (Method): Explain the logic of the basic design and how it is implemented. Only describe those features of the design that are essential to understanding the relevant aspects of how the study tests the hypothesis.
  7. What is the pattern of results reported? (Results): Summarize the results so that their relevance to the question is apparent.
  8. Implications for hypotheses (Discussion): What do the authors conclude this pattern of results indicates about their experimental hypotheses and the specific question of interest?

Finding articles

Note, not all articles will be equally easy to present. Look for short, empirical articles that report one or two studies. Do not choose theoretical treatises, review articles, or chapters from edited volumes—they require too much background to present briefly. Below is a list of some journals that tend to have appropriate length articles. There are many others, there is no need to restrict yourself to these but your article must address a psychological question.

Searching the literature: Google Scholar is fine if you know what you are looking for, but if you want to get a better sense of how a field is organized, using subject-indexed databases such as APA PsycInfo, ISI Web of Science, and SCOPUS can help narrow your search and provide keyword suggestions for searching. If you need help using these databases for literature searching, please let me know or ask the Psychology librarian for help (she is available for appointments; Holiday Vega, holi@uchicago.edu). One way to find relevant material is to look up the references cited for particular assertions within the articles you read for the week and scan their abstracts to see if they address your question in a relevant way. If not, do they address a related question you are interested in? This method allows you to look back from a particular paper to find the earlier papers that it references. You can also look forward; to see which subsequent papers reference a particular published paper. This can be done by using a cited reference search on ISI Web of Science or APA PsycInfo. You may also use Google Scholar but it doesn’t have index terms that can help orient you to the conceptual structure that organizes a field or the terminology used by experts. Reach out to Dr. Casillas if you have questions.

Below is a list of some journals that tend to have appropriate length articles. There is no need to restrict yourself to these. If you find an interesting article but it reports on multiple studies, consider preparing just one or two of these for presentation to the class.

  • Nature
  • Science
  • PNAS
  • PLoS One
  • Psychological Science
  • Frontiers in Psychology
  • Psychonomic Bulletin and Review
  • Cognition (short reports section only)
  • Attention, Perception & Psychophysics
  • Journal of Experimental Psychology: General
  • Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
  • Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
  • Developmental Science
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Infant Behavior and Development
  • Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (can be very long)
  • Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
  • Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
  • Social Cognition
  • Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
  • Social Neuroscience
  • Emotion
  • Journal of Economic Psychology
  • Animal Cognition
  • Animal Behaviour