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Experimental Online Study: Capturing People's Spontaneous Reactions Toward Personal Retaliation

By: , & Published: 2018 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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We describe a psychological research project aimed at testing whether people are more likely to approve of personal retaliation when they are forced to answer spontaneously than when they have ample time to contemplate their answers. To test this hypothesis, we ran an online study that included an experimental manipulation: one-third of our participants had to complete a cognitively demanding secondary task while answering questions (“cognitive load” condition), another one-third was asked to take as much time as they wanted to answer the questions (“deliberate thought” condition), and the final one-third received no specific response instruction (control condition). Here, we describe the challenges we were faced with when we designed and ran the study. The most important challenge was to find a paradigm to manipulate spontaneous versus deliberate responding that would be feasible in an online study. Another challenge was that we were measuring people’s responses to a real-life case of personal retaliation (the case of Ameneh Bahrami), which turned out to be a complex case that took a number of turns. We describe the methodological decisions we made and the reasons underlying these decisions.

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