Chapter 8 Complex Research Designs
Researcher Simone Schnall and her colleagues were interested in whether feeling physically disgusted causes people to make harsher moral judgments (Schnall, Haidt, Clore, & Jordan, 2008).Schnall, S., Haidt, J., Clore, G. L., & Jordan, A. H. (2008). Disgust as embodied moral judgment. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34, 1096–1109. They conducted an experiment in which they manipulated participants’ feelings of disgust by testing them in either a clean room or a messy room that contained dirty dishes, an overflowing wastebasket, and a chewed-up pen. They also used a self-report questionnaire to measure the amount of attention that people pay to their own bodily sensations. They called this “private body consciousness.” They measured their primary dependent variable, the harshness of people’s moral judgments, by describing different behaviors (e.g., eating one’s dead dog, failing to return a found wallet) and having participants rate the moral acceptability of each one on a scale of 1 to 7. They also measured some other dependent variables, including participants’ willingness to eat at a new restaurant. Finally, the researchers asked participants to rate their current level of disgust and other emotions. The primary results of this study were that participants in the messy room were in fact more disgusted and made harsher moral judgments than participants in the clean room—but only if they scored relatively high in private body consciousness.
Research suggests that disgusting surroundings can cause people to make harsher moral judgments.
The research designs we have considered so far have been simple—focusing on a question about one variable or about a statistical relationship between two variables. But in many ways the complex design of the experiment undertaken by Schnall and her colleagues is more typical of research in psychology. Fortunately, we have already covered the basic elements of such designs in previous chapters. In this chapter, we look closely at how and why researchers combine these basic elements into more complex designs. We start with complex experiments—considering first the inclusion of multiple dependent variables and then the inclusion of multiple independent variables. Finally, we look at complex correlational designs.