The danger of psych experiments!

February 9, 2009

In honor of Atish Mehta’s presentation of his new site, HappyFactor, at the last QS Show&Tell, I am working on a short long post about issues affecting the assessment of mood. That will post tonight or tomorrow, I hope. But in the meantime, here is a paragraph from one of the research papers I’ll be mentioning that made me laugh out loud. See if you can find the punch line:

After completing a consent form and the initial MSQ (used in Study 2 but not in the present analyses), participants were randomly assigned to viewing one of four film clips, each lasting just over 9 min. The clips used were as follows: (1) Sadness: taken from a PBS Frontline episode (May 1985) depicting the allies’ liberation of Nazi concentration camps; (2) Threat: taken from the 1978 film Halloween; (3) Neutral: taken from a National Geographic film depicting animals in their natural habitat, grazing; and (4) Happiness: taken from the 1989 film Parenthood. Immediately after watching the clip, participants completed the MSQ again. In both studies, participants subsequently completed additional questionnaires and cognitive processing tasks, which will not be discussed here. At the conclusion of the study, those participants who had viewed the distressing clips (1 or 2) were shown a brief clip from the movie Parenthood at the request of the institutional review board. All were given a comprehensive debriefing.

Source: A premature consensus: are happiness and sadness truly
opposite affects? Motiv Emot (2006) 30:1-12

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