My First Psychology Experiment

The Effects of Depression on Peer Pressure

Section 1: Proposal

The biological approach is the study of how physical and chemical changes in our bodies influence our behavior. The biological approach may be helpful with the field of physiology, which is the study of how the nervous system functions and how changes in structure and/or function can affect behavior. (simplypsychology.org) Psychobiologists believe that the things people think, feel, say, and do are caused by electrochemical events occurring within the neurons- particularly those in the brain- that make up the nervous system. (psychlotron.org.uk)

This study is designed to illustrate the effects that depression has on the likeliness of an individual giving in to peer pressure. The focus of the study is on the emotional, social, and ethical aspects of adolescence regarding their state of happiness (i.e. depression) and their probability of being influenced by peer pressure. Depression may cause feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness, and self-hate, which may lead to low self-esteem. Peer pressure is more likely to occur with individuals who have low self-esteem as they have a greater desire to fit in.

Section 2: Collection of Data

Surveys would be used first to collect data, as to not influence the control group to change their answers from the interviews to the survey. Fifty questions are to be carefully selected in order to gather the utmost amount of data from each individual. Questions will be selected to discover whether the control group had ever felt depressed or pressured into doing something that they otherwise would not have done. It will also ask questions about their environment and other aspects that may play a role in depression such as alcohol or drug abuse, certain medications, sleeping problems, and stressful life events (break ups, failing a class, death or illness of someone close, divorce, job loss, social isolation, etc). The survey will consist of ten questions about the socioeconomic status and environment of the participant, twenty questions about their overall state of happiness, and twenty questions about peer pressure.

After administering the surveys, interviews will be conducted to gather additional information as well as to compare the two sets of data. During the interview, we may clarify any confusion that the survey may have brought about and rephrase any questions that the participants did not understand. The interview will be held in private to not only ensure confidentiality, but also to avoid their answers being influenced by outside factors.

Section 3: Experimental Design

Depression is expected to be inversely related to the probability of giving into peer pressure. We believe that the desire to conform and feel accepted leads people to give into peer pressure. Alcohol and drug abuse are not only causes of depression, but also increase the chance of giving into peer pressure. The use of substances impairs judgment and impedes the ability to make good decisions. Individuals are then unable to think for themselves and feel pressured to do what others want them to do or what it seems like everyone else is doing.

In this study, the independent variable is the participants’ state of depression while the dependent variable is the efficacy of peer pressure. In this study, depression is defined as the state of being sad or unhappy for two weeks or more. Peer pressure may be defined as the feeling of being pressured, either verbally or nonverbally, to do something that one would not otherwise do. The participants’ levels of depression & likelihood of giving into peer pressure will be measured by how they respond to each question on the survey. They will be asked questions such as: if they have ever felt sad or unhappy for two weeks or more at a time, if they have been clinically diagnosed with depression, if they have ever had thoughts of suicide, if they have ever been pressured into doing something that would harm them, and if they have ever felt that they needed to conform to keep their friends. The survey will also consist of psychological questions, such as if a cup is half empty or half full, to measure their positive outlook on life.

We will set up our experiment by forming both a control and experimental group. The control group will take a survey consisting of fifty questions without knowing what it is about. The experimental group will know what types of questions the survey will include. It is expected that by this group knowing the types of questions, they will respond differently, in a more positive manner, than the control group. The only problem with this method is that some participants will be too ashamed or afraid to answer the questions for fear that someone will judge them. In order to minimize that risk, each participant will be assured that the information they provide will be strictly used for research purposes only and that no one else will neither see nor judge them whatsoever.

There are a number of confounding variables that may affect this experiment including, but not limited to, the respondent’s level of education, social class, and poverty level. High school students are more likely to pull all-nighters, which may lead to sleep deprivation (getting less than eight hours of sleep per night), therefore contributing to depression. High school students will also be more stressed from homework, projects, assignments, and getting good grades. They are also more likely to feel secluded & like they don’t belong. According to Dr. Lydia Falconnier, assistant professor in UIC’s Jane Addams College of Social Work, depression has a “profound impact on an individual’s productivity, which is particularly true among individuals in lower social classes and with lower levels of education”. Social class is also closely associated with depression as, according to biomedcentral.com, people with lower socioeconomic backgrounds are “more likely to exhibit psychiatric disorders.” Poverty levels also act as a third variable. About one in six Americans say that they have been diagnosed with depression, and that rate is almost double for people with a lower income. Americans that make less than $24,000 a year are the most likely to report being diagnosed with depression while those that make over $60,000 a year are the least likely to report ever being depressed. Richer people claim to be happier than poorer people and people of all socioeconomic backgrounds say that they expect wealth to bring happiness. To account for these confounding variables, respondents with the same level of education shall be chosen and their poverty levels as well as their social class will taken into consideration. In order to address experimenter bias, one of us will create survey and interview questions while the other administers them so that whoever is administering the survey and interview won’t know what to expect, therefore reducing the risk of a biased experiment. In order to minimize the impact of demand characteristics, deception will be used as an approach. Concealment will be used by telling the participants that they will be observed on how easily they are influenced by others, but they will not be told that they are also being observed on whether they have ever been depressed at some point. This is so that the Hawthorne Effect will not take place in the participants and cause them to behave differently or exaggerate the state of their happiness.

The selection of people will consist of the most common group of people affected by peer pressure to be able to better observe the characteristics of those who give into peer pressure. The sample will consist of 50 people that will be randomly selected from among high school students. The students that volunteer to participate will have their names written down in a randomized order, which will then be assigned two numbers, either one or two. The students who are assigned the number one will be a part of the control group, while the students that are assigned the number two will be a part of the experimental group. This will be done to give each student an equal opportunity to participate and be a part of a group.

Section 4: Ethical Concerns and Practical Applications

This experiment does indeed conform to APA ethical guidelines. We are aware of the professional, scientific, and social responsibilities. We also respect the rights, privacy, and dignity of each participant. Information about the research participants are confidential unless it is otherwise agreed upon in advance. Under no circumstances will information be revealed nor exploited about the individual participants. Each participant is also free to decline to participate in the experiment or withdraw from the research at any time. If a personal problem or conflict should arise, the experimenter is to withdraw immediately as to prevent harm to the research participant and/or the experiment. The experiment will be honest, fair, and respectful.

This experiment is worthy of being funded by the Hanso Foundation because it will not only further uncover depression in adolescents, but it will also be able to help prevent peer pressure by determining who is more likely to be pressured by others. This, in turn, will aid in targeting not only the teen’s depression, but their self-confidence, willpower, and refusal skills as well. It is expected that this will lead to fewer thefts, acts of violence, and alcohol and drug abuse within teens.

The Effects of Depression on Peer Pressure Presentation

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About Sierra

I'm an accounting major at Texas State University with a passion for all things international. I'm going to learn Russian, Portuguese, Italian, and possibly German one day. I've been speaking Spanish for 8 years and my dream is to one day travel across Latin America. DREAM Act 2015!

Posted on October 11, 2012, in Entertainment and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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