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Examining Group Setting Impacts on Neuropsychological Testing Using Deception and Undergraduate Research Assistants as Confederates

By: Published: 2018 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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Deception is a cornerstone of psychological research in cases where knowledge of the manipulation might influence how subjects would respond. When work is done in social situations, it is necessary to use confederates. Confederates are those people within a study who appear to be other subjects but are in fact part of the research team. Within this case study, I describe one of my undergraduate laboratory’s earliest studies which examined whether group testing conditions could influence neuropsychological assessments. Undergraduate researchers functioned as both experimenters and confederates to see whether a person working fast or slow beside a subject would affect verbal and nonverbal tests of function. One hundred college students participated in our assessment and only two noted being aware of the deception. Students who were in the room with a fast-working confederate made significantly more unique designs, typically a marker of right hemisphere performance, than students in a room with a slow-working confederate. This study allowed our laboratory the opportunity to test the responsibilities of an undergraduate laboratory student along with determining whether deception and confederates could be used at a smaller university. Our results indicated that group administration would not be recommended for right hemisphere neuropsychological testing. Our laboratory found that even at a smaller university, undergraduate researchers could produce an easy-to-execute deception design. As a study participant does not expect a confederate in any given study, the default expectation was that the person beside them was a fellow subject.

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