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Experimental Psychology

Research Format:

- Font : Arial 12

- Margin : 1’ Top, Bottom, Right, and Left

- Spacing : a. Heading and Subheading to text – single space

b. Text to text (Body) – double space


i. Title Page

ii. Abstract (This should be 150-200 words long and should offer
summary of the dissertation. Its job is to provide a brief overview so
that the reader can glance over this section and use it to decide
whether he or she needs to read the whole paper. This section
always precedes the body of the paper but it is sometimes useful to
write it last.)

iii. Introduction

a. Rationale of the experiment

b. Hypothesis

iv. Methodology

a. Procedure and Materials Required

b. Statistical Treatment

v. Results and Discussion

vi. Referencing
[Title Page Format]
Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila
(University of the City of Manila)

College of Human Development

Department of Psychology

Proactive Interference Experiment

In partial fulfillment of the requirements in

Experimental Psychology presented to
the Department of Psychology

[ insert here the name of the proponent]

[Date of submission]
[Page Format] 1

Proactive Interference

1.0 Introduction




1.1 Rationale of the Experiment

(explain here the purpose of conducting the Proactive Interference



1.2 Hypothesis

The following hypotheses were tested at .05 level of significance:

Ho1 - Numbers have no effect as an interference on memory task of


Ho2 - There is no significant relationship between the number of words

recalled and the number of correct backward counts.


- Proceed to the next parts using the same format provided above
- For Procedure, discuss the step by step procedure of the experiment.

Include here also the materials required in conducting the experiment.

- For Statistical Treatment, (follow the sample format)

2.2 Statistical Treatment

In order make decisions and interpretations of the data in reference to the

hypotheses of this experimental study, the following statistical techniques were


For Ho1 - Numbers have no effect as an interference on memory task

of wordlist. The formula for Mean (measure of central tendency) was used

which is expressed in the following:

For Ho2 - There is no significant relationship between the number of

words recalled and the number of correct backward counts. The formula for

Pearson’s r was used:

- For the Results and Discussion, use tables and charts in presenting

the data. (see the sample table and chart)

Table 1.0

Distribution of Scores in Words Recall Task





Note: For more insights on how to write a scientific paper please read the

proceeding excerpts.


This should be brief, concise, informative, and yet economical with words. The
title is not just an irrelevant phrase stuck at the beginning of an article. It is
often the means by which someone will decide whether or not to read the
article. You should also bear in mind that many literature searches are
conducted, at least partially, on the basis of the keywords contained in the
title. These keywords are recognised words that all authors within an area use
to designate their area of interest.

Abstract (or Summary)

This should be 150-200 words long and should offer summary of the
dissertation. Its job is to provide a brief overview so that the reader can
glance over this section and use it to decide whether he or she needs to read
the whole paper. This section always precedes the body of the paper but it is
sometimes useful to write it last.

You should include a sentence or two on the following points:

1. 1. A brief introduction to the issue you are looking at and what has
prompted you to look further at it, i.e. is there any contradiction in the
literature that has prompted you to do this study?

2. 2. A couple of sentences to say what YOU did, i.e. what sort of task did
you use, what sort of groups did you have, and what sort of measures did
you record?

3. 3. Briefly, what did you find? This might take the form of:

The results suggest that age is a factor in determining the performance

on a perceptual learning task
The ANOVA suggests that the height of the stair rather than its horizontal
depth is the important factor in determining the ease of climbing

4. 4. Briefly state how the results are to be interpreted. This doesn’t

mean include half your discussion section here, it means state how the
results will be discussed in that section, i.e. ‘These results are discussed
in terms of the theoretical and practical issues involved in ...’

The Introduction section is designed to lay the foundation for the study you are
about to present. You should include a review of both theoretical and
practical literature that is relevant to the issue that you will be examining.
This should be presented in a critical fashion so that the reader can see both
the pluses and the minuses of the research to date and can see how it fits
together. Highlighting problems and controversies is especially useful as these
often act as stimuli for further research.

Your aim here is to provide the reader with enough background information so
that they can see how your study contributes to an area and can see the
implications of your work in terms of what has already been done. The overall
direction or flow of the Introduction should lead from the general background
to the specific concerns and purposes of your study. Finally you should end this
section with a clear statement of the questions to be tackled and/or the
hypotheses to be tested.

The temptation in this section is often to include a summary of everything that

you have read on a subject - perhaps to show that you have read it. Try to
avoid this - an Introduction is NOT supposed to be an essay and if you include
too much you may well end up confusing the reader rather than helping them.
Your grasp of a topic is demonstrated as much by what you decide to leave out
as by what you include.

Note: There are several important points to note when referring to the work of
other people. First, it is important that you indicate clearly where you are
making use of other people’s work. You must not present the work of others as
your own - this is called plagiarism and is an extremely serious academic
offence. Secondly, the best way to refer to previous authors is to cite the
actual publication that you have used. The reader is then able to go and look
at the original for him or herself if they want to get more information or check
on details. Full information on where to find such publications should be listed
in a separate reference section at the end of your article but you should give
the surname(s) of the author(s) and the date of publication (in brackets) in the
main text.

Citing others’ work

1. Freud (1890) suggested that ...

Boys’ development may be heavily influenced by their relationship with
their mother (Freud, 1890).

2. When there is more than one author use ‘and’ when writing in the main
body of text e.g., ‘X, Y and Z (1966) suggested that...’ but use ‘&’ when
citing the authors within brackets e.g., ‘It has been suggested that
autistic children do show symbolic play (X, Y & Z, 1966).

3. The first time that you cite a reference source, list all of the authors
(unless there are more than 6 of them, in which case use FirstAuthor et
al). If there are more than two authors, all subsequent citations should
be of the form FirstAuthor et al. (Note: The reference section must list
all authors.)

4. When using a direct quote from a publication you must cite the relevant
page number as well as the year of publication. E.g., ‘Previous research
notes that ‘the results are indicative of a general trend in the
developmental literature examining childhood disorders’ (Smith, 1994,

5. It is generally better to refer only to publications that you have

actually read - these are called primary sources. However, at times you
may wish to refer to a publication that has been cited by someone else.
When doing so it is important to indicate that you are referring to a
publication via a secondary source. E.g., ‘Freud has argued that....
(Freud, 1890, cited in Kline, 1984).’

6. Finally, be sure to USE references rather than merely cite them. Give
sufficient detail in the text to show exactly how and why you are citing
a reference source.

This section is often the easiest to write - it breaks down into 4 sub-sections:
Design, Participants, Materials and Procedure. Each of these sections is
basically a statement of (i) the experimental design, (ii) who was used, (iii)
what was used and (iv) what was said and done. These sections MUST be
written in the third person - avoid the use of I/We. It is also a good idea to
write in the past tense too (‘reaction times were recorded’ rather than ‘we
will record the reaction times’). This makes it sound more professional.

In the ‘Design’ section, you should describe the study in general terms. For
experimental dissertations, give details of (i) the number of independent
variables - factors that you manipulated. (How many levels did each of these
have?), and (ii) the number of dependent variables - things that you measured
and that you expected to be influenced by the independent variables. For
more qualitative designs such information may be irrelevant. Discuss what to
include with your supervisor. You should justify your design if others
alternatives might have been used in previous research. However, do not fall
into the trap of repeating information that is better placed in the Procedure
section (below).

In the ‘Participants’ section include information about the number of

participants and their distribution across age and gender (NOT ‘sex’) if this is
appropriate. Also, include information such as socio-economic status,
educational background, familiarity with the procedure, etc., if you feel these
are important. Were the participants volunteers or were they paid? If children
were used as participants be sure to state that consent was obtained from their
parents/teachers. Ethical problems surrounding participation of children is an
important consideration and deserves attention.

In the ‘Materials’ section include information on the materials and apparatus

used. Do not simply provide a list of items - you should use connected prose.
If standard procedures or apparatus were used of which there are already
detailed descriptions available then simply name them, and if possible, direct
the reader to a publication where further information may be found. Include
what you, as the researcher used as well as what the participant used. This
covers interview schedules, questionnaires, and coding systems for
observational research. Describe their general structure and put copies in an
Appendix. If there were no materials or apparatus then leave this section out.
You do not need to record things like ‘paper and pencil’!

In the ‘Procedure’ section include information on the precise order of tasks and
any ‘instructions to the participants’ that you feel are important to include.
This section is important to get right - a reader must be able to replicate
exactly what you did if he/she wants. Do not forget to specify things like the
range and direction of rating scales (if used).

This section is often the weakest section of a paper or report. It is the hardest
section to get right because you have to include so much information. People
differ in how they like results to be presented. Basically, however, the
following guidelines may prove helpful.
Begin the Results section with a statement of what was measured, i.e. a rating
of the bizarreness of the images formed by the participant together with their
score on a memory task.

Then present a summary of the raw data. Rows and rows of figures are not
what is required here so present the mean, standard deviation and number of
participants for each condition, either in the form of a table or, if possible, in
the form of a graph. (The pictorial presentation of data saves the reader from
having to plough through masses of text and it provides them with a source
from which they have to extract the information that they require - they are
made active in the interpretation of the results and this can force them to feel
more involved and interested in these results.) Remember to label any tables
or graphs with a short but informative title.
Having presented the summary of the data (remember that ‘data’ is plural)
then comment on any trends apparent from the data, i.e. ‘From the table it
appears that....’

Then present the statistical analyses of the data. Remember to include details
of the statistical tests used and why, i.e. ‘A t-test for independent samples
was used to see whether the mean ratings for Group A differed from the mean
ratings for Group B.’. For qualitative dissertations this may not be necessary.
Again, consult your supervisor.

Finally, summarise the results by relating the figures back to the predictions
that you laid out in the Introduction. Do the results support or negate your
This section should begin with a reiteration of the results - but take care to use
plain English this time rather than using figures and statistical-speak. If the
results agree with your initial predictions then you should say this and then go
on to try to develop some theoretical argument to account for these (and
previous worker’s) results - i.e. put your results into some sort of context.
Thoughts for future research should also be discussed (if possible) in the light
of your findings and your emergent explanations.

If your results don’t agree with your initial predictions then it may be that the
predictions were wrong and that your results have shown something new.
However, you must not ignore the fact that your contradictory results may
reflect some methodological fault. It is wise, therefore, to critically examine
your method and see if you can suggest any ways in which your method may
have caused the unexpected results and to see if there are ways in which it can
be improved to overcome any flaws. Do not worry if you do find flaws in your
methodology. That is part and parcel of doing research.

You should aim to provide a clear and critical discussion of your findings with
the context discussed in the Introduction. Avoid unsupported personal opinions
and over-generalisations. However, do not be afraid to question previous
research if you find something contrary to it. Where speculations are
presented make it clear to the reader. A good ending to this section is a
paragraph that recapitulates the main findings and their implications.

Finally, do not be tempted to sidestep embarrassing findings or paradoxical

results. One way that science advances is by having to explain results that
were not expected.

You should list all references that you have cited in the text. If you have
referred to work via secondary sources then it is these secondary sources that
must be listed here. You should get into the habit of using a standard format
for references. Always list authors in alphabetical order. If several
publications are listed for the same author then these should be arranged in
date order (most recent first).

Journal articles:

Surname, Initial. Initial. (date). Title of paper. Title of Journal, volume

number, pages.
Shepard, R.N. and Metzler, J. (1971). Mental rotation of three-dimensional
objects. Science, 171, 701-703.


Surname, Initial. Initial. (date). Book Title. Place of Publication: Publisher.

Bartlett, F.C. (1932). Remembering: A study in experimental and social
psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Chapters in Books:

Surname, Initial. Initial. (date). Chapter title. In editor’s initial. editor’s

surname (Ed.), Title of Book. Place of Publication: Publisher.
Cohen, G. (1982). Theoretical interpretations of lateral asymmetries. In J.G.
Beaumont (Ed.), Divided visual field studies of cerebral organisation.
London: Academic Press.