(Horvath 2008) This very compelling quote by the renowned young-adult author, can be deemed the central foundation for many experiments relating to the study of Psychology, as well as the field of priming. Psychology is the very vast and unique study of the ways a human functions. Human behaviour is a very interesting topic in itself, as many factors can affect how people function. It is believed that a person’s opinion can be altered negatively or positively through a subconscious stimulus short term, knowingly or not (Psychology Today Priming). The main purpose of this topic, (The Psychology of Priming) is to break down, analyse and understand how and why this is the case (Cooper, B. B.
, & Belle Beth Cooper 2017). The priming effect: Why you’re less in control of your actions than you think. From our research, it is safe to assume that one’s subconscious opinion can be modified by the experimenter, through the different experiments of talented psychologists and scientists. A possible way to alter these individuals perspectives, is through the use of a medium. According to the “explorable” article on Perceptual and Conceptual, this experiment could be considered a Conceptual based priming as it “relies on the meaning of stimuli.” (Perceptual and Conceptual, Explorable.com) In other words content of prime makes a difference, and is only affected by what the prime consists of.
(Perceptual and Conceptual, Explorable.com) Accordingly, it was thought to utilize a form of media such as a video to change one’s perspective. However, we soon came to realization that we must do so on a non noticeable, subliminal scale, unlike a video, as it is much more direct and obvious.
A video would be considered more effective yet would be too evident. Nevertheless, our end goal, as the researchers was to conduct an experiment that would determine if one’s opinion about a topic, in our case police, can be altered by applying a test or procedure. We wanted to figure out if our slightly different hypotheses would be supported by this experiment. The idea of a word search or unscramble the text came up, and was taken into consideration. This was deemed as the most efficient way of priming through transmitting subliminal messages, indirectly. These changes in values inflict a negative opinion on our participants that do not necessarily even reflect actions displayed by our specific police service.
BACKGROUND and PRELIMINARY RESEARCH The attitudes of our society towards law enforcement is a very interesting topic. There are many examples of police-based action and issues of accountability in recent news. Regardless if it encompases issues such as abuse of power, or violence against police, people must be informed of the issues impacting our lives. One other important tool used in our lives is the media. The media is the means of communication with the masses. The media offers views on current public threats, current news, the weather, politics, etc, easily accessed by the public via television, radio, print media, and the internet. Without people realizing it, the media has become an integral part of our lives. The public relies on the use of mainstream media and daily news to be informed.
According to an article published by the New York University, media has the ability to influence social factors and norms, through forced acceptance of views. (DellaVigna and Gentzkow, 2010; Bandura, 1986). According to the article, media affects one’s individual process of learning content, and alters their own personal beliefs. (DellaVigna & Gentzkow, 2010; Staub & Pearlman, 2009).
This is the real question. Could the media be shaping the way we think? (Catherine Happer, Greg Philo 2013)In the first example in the article (Michalis Drouvelis Robert Metcalfe and Nattavudh Powdthavee 2015), researchers Drouvelis, Metcalfe and Powdthavee “all concluded that positive words such as teamwork, united, collective, collaborate, trust and share all resulted in a positive outcome in an experiment”. This idea in return supports other social experiments regarding priming. The reader can assume that these words will create a positive outlook on the participant.
According to their interesting experiment, the test participants who had been primed with words relating to cooperation contributed and donated significantly more of the money initially given to them. When primed neutrally, 45% of people donated some tokens to charity, the 13% primed to be cooperative surprisingly gave all 20 tokens. This experiment also backs up the idea of creating a difference in society by priming the participants to support a good cause, as more participants intentions would be changed. One other example that supports the ideology of priming, is social scientist John Bargh’s 1996 stereotype and character trait study.
Participants primed to be less polite were prone to interrupting the experimenter more frequently, more than participants primed to be polite during the examination. (Bargh, J. A., Chen, M., & Burrows, L. (1996)) RATIONALEA study by Michalis Drouvelis, Robert Metcalfe and Nattavudh Powdthavee once again found that participants’ responses can be altered, when certain words in relation to positivity were used. (Michalis Drouvelis Robert Metcalfe and Nattavudh Powdthavee 2015).
These researchers tested “cooperation and politeness, considered media priming” (Michalis Drouvelis Robert Metcalfe and Nattavudh Powdthavee 2015). Their experiment found that priming can greatly influence one’s attitude and judgement. Groups that are primed negatively perform lower than normal and have negative views of police and law enforcement. We were curious whether we could similarly affect people’s views through priming. In our study, we were curious whether we could take a group of participants, and introduce either a positive or negative priming stimulus, and see whether that affected their views of law enforcement. KEY QUESTIONSBased on the above research studies, we wanted to further learn about the effects of priming. Some questions that we developed include the following:As experimenters, do we have the ability and capability of influencing the opinion of the participants? What if the experiment is not capable of any priming effects on participants? Does the duration of priming on a subject change the end result?Can the entire procedure be done while staying concealed, or will participants become aware of the fact that this is a social experiment and priming is currently taking place?HYPOTHESISPriming is capable of altering opinions, and participants who are primed negatively will score a lower value on overall attitudes towards law enforcement, in comparison to participants who are primed positively.
METHODOLOGYParticipants:Altogether, a total of 66 participants were tested, with test subjects drawn from both Markville Secondary School, and the Markville Mall Shopping Centre food court. The participants were fairly close in age range, with a minority considered “adults”. The ages of participants included two fourteen-year-olds, two fifteen-year-olds, 26 sixteen-year-olds, 28 seventeen-year-olds, and eight who were eighteen-plus. To maintain confidentiality, the researchers kindly asked the participants to refrain from sharing information with each other, and to respect each other’s privacy.
Importantly, all participants were made aware of this test and gave consent for their information to be utilized in the experiment. Following the Tri Council Code on Ethical Research, this information was not made available to the public, and last names were not required. All participants were assigned to either “positive” or “negative” priming stimulus. Then each participant from either group was given either a list of “positive” or “negative” scrambled words.
Procedure and Design:Phase 1:This experiment involved two phases, the first being to collect field research data. Participants were unknowingly taking part in a priming activity, modeled after the experiment conducted by Michalis Drouvelis, Robert Metcalfe and Nattavudh Powdthavee (Michalis Drouvelis Robert Metcalfe and Nattavudh Powdthavee 2015), A simple set of 20 sentences on two pieces of paper were worded positively and negatively, and were the bases of this positive and negative priming. The activity formed and pushed the participant’s feelings toward either the positive or negative scope. Participants received a list of scrambled words. What the participant was not told, was that the list of scrambled words would subconsciously affect their later responses. One example of a negative list of words includes terms such as negativity, anger, and discrimination. The subjects were asked to complete and decrypt as many examples as they could in the allocated time frame, and their responses were timed.
Phase 2: After the subjects unscrambles either negative or positive lists, and their set time was up, the researcher introduced the survey. The survey consisted of ten questions on Google forums, focusing on the topic of law enforcement. The first three questions were about name, gender, and age. Each of the seven remaining questions each had a weight of 10 marks, for a total of 70 possible marks. Scores above five on a particular question were considered a positive response towards law enforcement. The researcher noted the type of priming exposure (either positive or negative), and also noted the duration of priming exposure (either 45, 60, or 75 seconds). All of this data was recorded on the Data Record Sheet below.Procedure and Design:COMPLETE EXPERIMENT DATA INFORMATION: Link 1: Data Record and ObservationsVISUAL REPRESENTATION AND DATA:GRAPH 1: Visual representation of effect of positive or negative priming on average survey scores.
(Blue – negative priming; orange – positive priming)The y axis shows the survey scores; the x axis is negative and positive priming. The graph shows the minimum and maximum values for each data set, as well as the numbers for quartiles. This graph shows that the average score for negative priming is 45.14, while the average score for positive priming is 49.33.
The difference between the two values in average scores was 4.20. Graph 2: Survey scores based on age for female participants.
This graph shows how the ages of female participants affects the overall total score for them. Here, the y axis is the total score achieved, and the x axis is the age of the female participants. Scores changed between high and low regardless of what age we were looking at. Things that stood out, were that the 17-year-olds had lower overall scores, and the 16-year-olds had higher overall total scores.Graph 3: Survey scores based on age for male participants.The x axis represents the age of each male participant, while the y axis refers to the total score obtained. According to this graph, the data shows as males increase in age, their scores are overall slightly more positive.
Contrary to the female results, male results show 16 year olds have the lowest scores and the 17 year olds have the highest scoresExperiment Procedure MaterialNegative Unscramble the Text: Positive Unscramble the Text:The Procedure (Priming Method): Pictured above, is the first phase to initiate the priming. This priming experiment consisted of a choice of positive or negative sentences to be unscrambled. The list of scrambled words contains the influencing words to alter opinions. For example, the list of words will include terms such as miserable, terrible and accident in attempt to prime the participant towards the negative spectrum.
The sentences listed in either papers do not have any connection, and the sentences were made as generic and unspecified as possible. Survey: The survey was made to be as straightforward as possible, and collect truthful information from the survey participant. The questionnaire was created to look as realistic as possible to gain trust form the student. Results:DiscussionAccording to all the data collected, and the survey results, the positive priming and negative priming experiment was successful, accordingly time was a major factor as well. In the beginning, the faster duration for priming, (45 seconds) resulted in a more effective prime. This was the case especially for males, as the negative priming was most effective at the 60-75 second mark. The first graph provides insight about the priming results, of negative and positive priming, Test participants (students) who are selected to be negatively primed through subconscious methods, will have negative attributes towards law enforcement and policing at a whole.
This priming is capable of altering opinions for a short period of time, therefore participants who are primed negatively will score a lower value in comparison to participants who are primed positively. According to the first graph, this the average score for negative priming is 45.14, while the average score for positive priming is 49.33. This in return concludes the experiment, supporting the hypothesis that participants primed negatively will score a lower value (45.
14) on overall attitudes towards law enforcement, in comparison to participants who are primed positively (49.33). The difference in average scores was a difference of 4.20, which is fairly strong. According to total add up, positive average add up is greater than negative add up, therefore if primed positively higher number, negatively lower number. Age group of 17 year olds were more effective at the priming experiment, as they scored a greater number.
The total score did not depend on the length of the survey. The negative and positive priming does not have any effects on whether it is male or female. Young females were more supportive of law enforcement and how they view through their perspective.
Older males seem to have better opinions of law enforcement compared to younger males from the score data. According to the data, it seems as a shorter prime period results in a more successful and effective prime.Regarding our initial objectives for this project:It has now been concluded, that as researchers ones such as ourselves have the ability and capability to influence the opinions on others, through a subconscious way. The duration of priming made a difference, as a longer duration seemed to weaken the overall output of the participant. The entire procedure can be completed concealed, only if the participant is unaware of the experiment. In the participant has more time to think about the experiment’s reason, the procedure may be compromised.
Effect of Gender:Through the experiment, it is believed that males and females are subject to perform differently. In graphs 1 and 2, females were known to have different opinions at different ages, while the males were very consistent in staying in the same group. This may have an impact on gender, as it is believed in this experiment, males had the ability to be influenced and affected. 16, 17 and 18 year- old males were mostly grouped together in the data, which means males had similar thought processes. Duration of Priming: The trends data hint that longer the duration of priming, the less effective the results. Interesting Findings:There are some interesting things we found with our project. Age may have been a factor, as males seem to have more positive responses through greater age. (More maturity/understanding of topic) People’s opinions about an unknown topic can be greatly influenced by a small group of people.
Predicted path of experiment: Personal Views -> Applicant Perspective Alteration Procedure -> Quick Assessment -> Changed Views On Subject As more time was given, some responses bagan to slightly balance. Males ended up more influenced through negative priming (possibly as males look up to males).Flaws With Methodology:Participants may be influenced by the researchers seeing their personal data. Groups of participants selected might have been biased by location they were chosen. The researchers may have only chosen from a specific set of participants, people who they knew or were comfortable with. The data taken from markville may not actually represent all people at markville.
Flaws in inaccurate timing, or inefficient procedure. Participant’s ethnicity might change their exposure to police may also have an impact for example the new immigrant children may have exposed to a different police environment. Relevance to Real Life:The experiment conducted may be relevant to real life. Aware of or not, surrounding and upbringings influence one’s perspective on a large scale. Everyday, we are surrounded by people who have their own opinions, and make decisions. It can be believed that these personal perspectives affect how others think and view society through association.
. Some households where small children are growing, parents can use the method of positive priming for their children to have a positive image of an experience. The media or people can affect how a young individual with no experience thinks, as no other information is available and thoughts are developing. (THE IMPACT OF MEDIA – GOOD, BAD OR SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN) Media also play an integral role in how we think. Most people view some form of media on a day to day basis, and are surrounded by controversial information.
Could the media shape how we think and perform? (DiRenzo Alex, 2016) Is media priming us to think from a certain perspective? (Kessler Josh, 2013) The purpose of this experiment was to conclude if a small group of researchers were able in influence a significant population of Markville Secondary School students on policing, being successful in doing so. Conclusion:The study was to determine if the idea of priming is effective, and to identify similarities and differences between different trends of data. It was found that priming, in this instance and through many other research articles has the ability to affect how an individual or group thinks, performs and reacts in a situation. This experiment is very important, as people can learn from and interpret the information. The study of psychology and experiments such as these can help better understand how society functions, and human nature. Humans are known absorb large amounts of information.
Sometimes, that information obtained may not always be correct, or truthful. This experiment proves the masses should be be cautious before making decisions, and jumping to conclusions without enough insight.