With such a large variation in population, there is likely going to be differences among the participants for the sample. Some major variables which could affect the external validity of the experiment could be: differences in age, differences in state of mind (depression etc. ), alcoholism and tolerance to alcohol. With this particular design ethical issues are also going to be apparent. The subjects will be asked to consume alcohol, a generally tabooed substance. Furthermore, possible age restrictions may be violated since an accurate sample requires the participation of ‘all’ university students (some underage).
Putting the consumption of alcohol out of the way, deceit is another issue within the confines of the experiment. Lying to subjects is another aspect within this design, which may stir up some ethical concerns. This specific experimental design specifically allows the distinction between possible psychological effects of believing one is intoxicated and the ‘real’ chemical effects of intoxication, on memory. If, as predicted, the control group with no active level of the independent variables outperforms the active levels, then it will be possible to conclude that alcohol consumption does negatively affect the storage phase of memory.
According to results, the extent to which, if any, psychological influence plays a roll in performance on “storage” of memory will also be determined. Non-Experimental Design/Correlational Design The correlational design for my experiment will investigate any relationship between the amount of alcohol consumed and performance in university. By administering a survey which asks participants to identify themselves by the average number of drinks they consume per night and their average grades for exams within their last completed semester, I hope to come across a correlation between the effects of drinking on memory.
The independent variable in this case will be the amount of alcohol consumed by each participant of the survey. This independent variable will vary by the fact that all surveys will then be divided into levels of intoxication (i. e. low, medium, and high). The independent variable results will then be compared with the dependent variable which in this case, will indirectly be linked to memory. Specifically a measure of memory will be obtained from respondents’ performance on exams within their last university semester. An analysis of these data will hopefully provide some type of correlation.
From past research, I expect that as levels of intoxication increase the performance on exams will decrease. Even if proven by the results of the surveys, such information cannot be recognized as proof for a causal effect for one variable on another. Since there are many experimental flaws with such a design, causality cannot be established. The possibility of a third variable creeps in within this design. The extra consumption of alcohol may not directly be responsible for decreases in test scores. For example, a subject who may consume more alcohol may do so as a result of depression, which may also be a contributing factor for low scores.
Stress may also be another contributing factor which induces alcohol consumption. The population of interest would remain that of a university setting. Random sampling from different universities throughout British Columbia would provide a broad base for the sample. An attempt to distribute a large number of surveys would balance some of the differences among the test subjects creating a sample which was more representative of the overall population being considered. Drawbacks and ethical concerns from such a design may arise. A major drawback of this correlational design would be the cost involved.
To obtain a ‘proper’ sample, the number of surveys distributed needs to be very high. This proves costly. Also, the validity of responses from participators remains questionable. The lack of controlled conditions will limit the causality achievable from such a design. The lack of controlled laboratory conditions where empirical measurements can be made makes causality impossible; however, different relationships between the independent and dependent variables may be uncovered. This design uncovers any relationships which may be evident, so that they then can be recreated in the laboratory setting to be further investigated.
Conclusion The experimental design proposed previously, specifically looks at the psychological and chemical effects of alcohol consumption on the “learning” phase of memory. By using two independent variables, effects (psychological or chemical or a combination) of intoxication can be uncovered. With the correlational design, a relationship between alcohol consumption and memory may be uncovered, however due to a lack of controlled environment and conditions this procedure is very susceptible to error and inconsistencies.
This specific research takes into account another aspect which may be contribute to the cause of detrimental effects on memory by alcohol. Previous experiment had not included the psychological aspect of influence; the proposed experimental design incorporates this factor to possibly provide more sound evidence that alcohol is responsible for decreases in memory or oppositely provide evidence which may disprove previous findings that alcohol’s chemical properties are the cause of decreases in memory.
Not only does the proposed design provide important incite on the specific effects on memory, but it may also serve as a window which helps uncover other mysteries of psychological influences affecting other various aspects of our daily lives.
Kirchner, T. R. , & Sayette, M. A. (2003). Effects of Alcohol on Controlled and Automatic Memory Processes. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 11(2), 167-175. Parker, E. S. , Birnbaum, I. M. , & Noble, E. P. (1976). Alcohol and Memory: Storage and State Dependency. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 15(6), 691-702.