Ithaca College
Psychology Department

Research Methods (PSYC 30800)
Spring 2021

Prof. Barney Beins

The assembly of the first generation of American psychological scientists. Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung are also there in their first and only trip to America.

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If you experience or witness an incident or event, whether on campus, via social media, or within the Ithaca community that raises health and safety concerns and appears to violate the Ithaca College Community Agreement, please complete and submit this form.  The following website contains instructions for reporting violations to the college:

Your cooperation with this effort is appreciated as we re-open campus for in-person instruction. 


Contacting me

Schedule for the Course

Office Hours

Teaching Assistant

Purpose of the Course

Goals of the Course

Nature of the Course


Assignments, Tests and Evaluation Policies

Extra Credit

Important Dates

What is This Course All About?

This course provides you with a set of tools to change the way you think about the world around you. Although it might initially appear to be a course involving only the way we do research, my hope is that your learning will be much broader than that. You may not engage in a lot of research after you finish your Psychology major, but throughout your life, you will need to evaluate evidence about what you believe.

This course will help you learn what kinds of questions to ask so you don't end up drawing poor conclusions. In fact, one of the messages of this class is that by learning to be a scientifically literate, critical thinker, you will be in a position to make the best decisions possible in your life.

It makes no sense to think that all of your decisions in your life will lead to optimal outcomes, but with critical thought, you can maximize the number of decisions that have positive results and minimize the number leading to poor outcomes. That is what this course is all about.


Meeting times (Virtual)
Tuesday and Thursday, 8:00-9:15 (Section 1)
Tuesday and Thursday, 9:25-10:40 (Section 2)

Credits: 3

Course Description: Analysis of methodological designs used in psychological research and application of statistical methods for behavioral sciences, with special emphasis placed on the experimental method. Students should be able to use SPSS on the computer. Prerequisites: PSYC 20700. (F-S,Y)

Contact Information

Barney Beins
Office: 115-E Williams


I will be available as needed. Please contact me and we can communicate via email, by phone, or through Zoom.


Homework: Homework assignments are due on the dates listed in the Assignments-At-A-Glance document. If there are changes to the schedule, I will announce them in class the week before the change is relevant.


When you complete assignments, make sure that you save them when I return them to you. If it should happen that there is a discrepancy in your records and mine, it is easier to resolve if you can show me the homework I've returned to you.

Extra Credit: If you want to earn extra credit for participating in research, make sure you read the guidelines. I don't know whether there will be many (or any) opportunities for research participation. We will have to wait and see on that.

I have posted learning aids on Sakai for your benefit:

  • POWERPOINT FILES: You have access to PowerPoint files for each chapter via Sakai. They provide chapter outlines of the major points.
  • PRACTICE TESTS: There are practice tests available on Sakai for the three tests and for the final exam.
  • STUDY GUIDES: There are study guides on Sakai for each of the chapters we will be covering in class for the semester.

This is what your research experience can lead to.

Academic Advising Center

The Academic Advising Center has transitioned to a virtual advising model. Students are able to set up 30-minute Zoom appointments and connect with an Academic Advisor. Advisors are available for appointments Mondays through Thursdays, 9am to 4pm EST, and Friday, 9am to 3pm EST. Please keep in mind appointments cannot be scheduled with less than 24 hours' notice. Click here to schedule a virtual appointment. An advisor will be in touch to confirm the date, day, and time of the Zoom meeting.





"Understanding physics is child's play compared to understanding child's play."--Attributed to Albert Einstein

Teaching Assistant:

Lauren Obusek

Contact Lauren if you would like help with course material.


January/February   March   April/May
January 25-29   March 1-5   April 12-16
February 1-5   March 8-12   April 19-23
February 8-12   March 15-19   April 26-30
February 15-19   March 22-26   May 3-7
February 22-26   March 29-April 2   May 10-14
    April 5-April 9    

Purpose of this course

(Go to the top of the syllabus)

In this course, you will learn how to understand, evaluate, and carry out research. This means being able to determine the adequacy of research you encounter as a consumer, setting up the rationale for a research project, creating a competent methodology, collecting data, analyzing the data, interpreting the results, and then communicating the results.

There are many ways to do good research. Some of them are experimental, like much of the work done on our research teams, but there are other ways of collecting data that are useful or even preferred in some situations. Any methodology has its strong and weak points; you are going to learn about them in this class.

Whether or not you continue in psychology after you graduate, you will probably need to organize and explain data that either you or someone else gathered. Consequently, you are going to need the ability to take a set of raw data and to make some sense of it. You will learn about this skill, including computerized data analysis. (For this component of the course, you may want to refer back to your statistics text or to borrow one.)

Goals of this course

Characterize the nature of psychology as a discipline.

Demonstrate knowledge and understanding representing appropriate breadth and depth in selected content areas of psycholog

Use the concepts, language, and major theories of the discipline to account for psychological phenomena.

Describe the basic characteristics of the science of psychology.

Explain different research methods used by psychologists.

Evaluate the appropriateness of conclusions derived from psychological research.

Demonstrate reasonable skepticism and intellectual curiosity by asking questions about causes of behavior.

Evaluate scientific evidence for psychological claims.

Tolerate ambiguity and realize that psychological explanations are often complex and tentative.

Exhibit quantitative literacy.


(Go to the top of the syllabus)

After you complete this course

When you finish this methods course, you should have several valuable skills that you have not yet attained. You should remember to include them on your resume when you apply for jobs or for graduate school. These skills include

Remember: These are all marketable skills that will separate you from the rest of the crowd applying for that job or that graduate school spot that you really want.

(Go to the top of the syllabus)

The nature of this course

This course requires consistent work throughout the semester. This is a skills course, which means that you will be exposed to topics that you will need to employ in other courses. The focus is on applying research techniques, so the stress will be twofold: learning about the techniques that psychologists use and actually applying them. You will learn about a wide variety of topics. As such, if you fall behind in the work, you will experience difficulty catching up. The material is not difficult per se, but it is extensive; if you have problems, make sure you see me about them.

You will be developing research and problem-solving skills in this class. As such, it is important for you to abide by the ethical guidelines that researchers have adopted. In particular, all the work you do for this class must be your own. I encourage you to collaborate with others in developing your ideas, but the work you complete for the course must be your own. Passing somebody else's work off as your own is in violation with Ithaca College policies and any infractions will be subject to College regulations.

If you require some type of assistance because of a disability, please contact the Office of Academi Support Services (607-274-l005; TDD: 607-274-1767. You should let me know in advance if you need special accommodations.

In compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, reasonable accommodation will be provided to students with documented disabilities on a case by case basis. Students must register with the Office of Academic Support Services and provide appropriate documentation to the college before any academic adjustment will be provided.

Take Care of Yourself

Diminished mental health, including significant stress, mood changes, excessive worry, or problems with eating and/or sleeping can interfere with optimal academic performance. The source of symptoms might be related to your course work; if so, please speak with me. However, problems with relationships, family worries, loss, or a personal struggle or crisis can also contribute to decreased academic performance.

Ithaca College provides cost-free mental health services through the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) to help you manage personal challenges that threaten your personal or academic well-being.

In the event I suspect you need additional support, expect that I will express to you my concerns and the reasons for them. It is not my intent to know the details of what might be troubling you, but simply to let you know I am concerned and that help (e.g., CAPS, Health Center, Chaplains, etc.), if needed, is available.

The College offers a variety of helpful resources.

Remember, getting help is a smart and healthy thing to do -- for yourself and for your loved ones.


Student Accessibility Services

If you are eligible for accommodations through SAS contact them, then see me to discuss any arrangements.

Title IX

All educational institutions in the United States receiving federal funding are required to comply with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which mandates that: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." Complaints should be lodged with the appropriate coordinator listed on the College's website:


Textbook (Required)

Beins, B. C. (2018). Research Methods: A Tool for Life, 4th ed. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

(Go to the top of the syllabus)

January 25-29
Reading and Topics:Chapter 1: Psychology, Science, and Life

We will begin to deal with the ways that psychologists ask questions and decide what to believe about human behavior. The answers are not always easy or straightforward, so we have to be careful in the way we approach our decision-making.

Discussion: Ways of knowing: how do you know what you know?

What do you actually know about subliminal perception? Have you listened to Stairway to Heaven?

DISCUSSION QUESTION: How could you test to see if subliminal perception has an effect on behavior?

Can I get you to drink a cup? Some researchers think they can. (At least some of the time.)

Karremans, J. C., Stroebe, W., & Claus, J. (2006). Beyond Vicary's fantasies: The impact of subliminal priming and brand choice. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 42, 792-798. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2005.12.002


Activity: What are scientists like?

Activity: Predicting research results

School violence

What is your Body Mass Index?

Provide data for Health Survey

Assignment: Reaction Paper: Eating Healthy


February 1-5
Reading and Topics: We will continue to talk about asking and answering psychological questions (Chapter 1).

Discussion: Critical thinking: "The worst social statistic ever"

Activity: Using SPSS


Homework: Selecting Statistical Tests

Reaction Paper: Scientific Literacy


February 8-12

Reading: Chapter 2: Ethics in Research

In the past, researchers have engaged in egregious conduct, sometimes harming the people they are studying. In response, guidelines have been developed to protect the people and animals we study and to insure the integrity of the research process. The American Psychological Association was in the forefront of developing ethical guidelines; state and federal laws often rely on proposals first made by APA. The ethical principles espoused by the APA appear in your text in Chapter 2 on pages 34-36 (Tables 2.1 and 2.2)

There are federal and state laws regarding ethics in research; in addition, the American Psychological Association has developed ethical guidelines. We also have the Nuremburg Code, which is an international standard for ethics in research.

Information on the research review guidelines from the federal government.

A picture of me and the Milgram Shock Generator


Homework: Characteristics of Science

Reaction Paper: Nature and Stress

Discussion: Francis Galton studied the efficacy of prayer in 1872. Does anybody study the efficacy of prayer now?


February 15-19

Reading: Chapter 3--Planning Research: Generating a Question

Researchers ask questions that come from a diversity of sources. Sometimes an investigator will observe some behavior and wonder why it happens. Sometimes an investigator has a specific problem to solve and wants to figure out the best solution. sometimes, researchers have theories they want to test. Regardless of the origin of the question, it is important for researchers to know what others have done before them so they don't simply do studies that others have already carried out. In this chapter, you will see how ideas develop.


Data Collection: Word Recall


Homework: Stanford Prison Study

Reaction Paper: Retractions and Fraud

`Activity: Nature and stress


February 22-26

Reading and Topics: Chapter 4--Practical Issues in Planning your Research

Research involves making a lot of practical decisions in creating a sound study. You have to make decisions about your participants and subjects, how you will sample, making measurements that are meaningful, and deciding on an overall approach.


Homework: Gaming Addiction

Data Collection

March 1-5

Reading and Topics: Chapter 5--Measurement and Sampling

When you conduct any research, you have to figure out what you are going to measure and how you will be measuring it. In psychology, we regularly make use of operational definitions, which stand in for variables that we aren't able to measure directly. The issues that we have to deal with include exactly what we intend to measure (and how), along with the question of validity of our measurements.

TEST #1 (Chapters 1-3) on TUESDAY, MARCH 2


Reaction Paper: Are You Cultured?


March 8-12

Reading and Topics: Chapter 6--Conducting an Experiment: General Principles

Experimental approaches in research dominate psychology. We use experiments because they let us investigate and understand the causes of behavior. in order to have confidence in our assessment of causation, we have to consider a lot of detail in setting up our research so that we can draw unambiguous conclusions.


Homework: Sampling and Sexual Violence

Activity: Deciding about external validity



Reading and Topic: Chapter 6 (continued)


Homework: Internal Validity

Reaction Paper: Resources to Boys and Girls

There are no classes in the College on THURDAY, MARCH 18

March 22-26

Reading and Topics: Chapter 7--Experiments with One Independent Variable

Behavior is complex. As a result, the studies we plan need to be complex. However, it sometimes makes sense to start with simple designs. In this chapter, you will learn about experimental designs that involve one independent variable. The simplest experiment involves two groups, but we seldom use such a simple design. More often, we investigate multiple groups and/or multiple independent and dependent variables.

TEST #2 (Chapters 4-6) on TUESDAY, MARCH 23

Activity: Identifying IVs and DVs

Data Collection: Research with one IV






March 29-April 2

Reading and Topics: Chapter 7--Experiments with One Independent Variable

Behavior is complex. As a result, the studies we plan need to be complex. However, it sometimes makes sense to start with simple designs. In this chapter, you will learn about experimental designs that involve one independent variable. The simplest experiment involves two groups, but we seldom use such a simple design. More often, we investigate multiple groups and/or multiple independent and dependent variables.

Activity: Identifying IVs and DVs

Data Collection: Research with one IV



Reaction Paper: Who is Happier?



April 5-9

Reading and Topics: Chapter 7 (continued) and Chapter 8--Experiments with Multiple Independent Variables

Because behavior is complex, our research designs end up being complex, too. There are many different ways to design studies so that we can assess the effects of more than one variable on behavior. This approach is important because, in life, more than one variable is going to influence what we do and how we think.

Activity: Identifying research designs

Data collection: Male-Female

Age Study

If your last name begins with A to J, you are in Group A for the Age study: Group A.

If your last name begins with K to Z, you are in Group J for the Age study: Group J.

For our next data-collection exercise, you will be in your group based on your last name.

Group 1: A-C

Group 2: D-I

Group 3: J-P

Group 4: Q-Z



Homework: Identifying IVs and DVs


April 12-16

Reading and Topics: Chapter 8--Continued


Reaction Paper: BMI and Visible Food

Activity: Repeated measures designs: The Stroop Effect

Who's to Blame?


April 19-23

Reading and Topics: Chapter 10--Principles of Survey Research

One of the most ubiquitous forms of research is the survey. Although it is common and we tend to take them for granted, survey research is very difficult to carry out well. Identifying your population, then your sample, can be hard. Developing well worded questions is always problematic. In addition, respondents bring their own idiosyncrasies to the situation. Surveys can be very useful, but they must be done well if they are to provide good information.

The wording of the questions is important and poses the greatest challenge in creating a survey. How you word your questions shapes the answers you get. If you want to get the most useful information, you need to pay attention to how your construct your questions. Researchers have identified important issues in creating survey questions. Another critical aspect of conducting survey research involves the question of how you will administer the survey. There are advantages and disadvantages to any approach you take.


Homework: Sleep--Interactions

Activity: Assessing the goals of education

Trigger warnings


April 26-30

Reading and Topics: Chapter 11--Correlational Research

Sometimes research questions are too complex to be handled easily by experimental research. At other times, it may not be feasible or ethical to do experimental research to address a question. In these instances, correlational research can be very useful. Correlations don't let us assess causation, but they let us see patterns of behavior and predict them, even if we don't know the causes of the behavior.

You will be able to complete COURSE EVALUATIONS on Thursday, April 29 at the end of class



Activity: Personality Data

Activity: Your style


May 3-7

Reading and Topics: Chapter 11--Correlational Research (continued)

TEST #3 (Chapters 7, 8, 10, and 11) on TUESDAY, May 4



Activity: Predicting attendance


May 10-14


8:00 Section: Thursday, May 14, 7:30 to 10:00 a.m.

9:25 Section: Wednesday, May 13, 7:30 to 10:00 a.m.


(Go to the top of the syllabus)

Tests and Evaluation of Your Performance

There will be different components to my evaluation of your performance. First, we will have quizzes every three or four chapters during the semester; they will not be surprise tests--I will give you at least one class notice if there are any changes relative to what is stated in this syllabus. They will be multiple choice in format. The quizzes are NOT cumulative. (60% of your grade)

Note: There will be no makeup tests. If you miss a quiz, you will be able to make up your missing score during the final exam day period. by taking a quiz that covers the material from the quiz you missed; the questions will be different from the original quiz. In addition, if you have taken all of the quizzes but would like to work toward a higher score on any of the quizzes, you can respond to questions on the final exam from the relevant chapters for quizzes you want to replace. It is optional; you do not need to make such a substitution.


You will also have writing assignments and some statistics homework. The work labeled Homework tends to be from the textbook. The work labeled Reaction Paper is more of an application of the ideas you are learning about research and critical thinking. (40% of your grade)


Note: Late homework is subject to a penalty of 10% deduction per day. (This means that if you hand in your paper one day late, your grade will be your earned score x .90; two days later means your grade will be your earned score x .80, etc.) Homework assignments are due on Monday; you have until Wednesday to submit late assignments. After those times, you will receive a grade of zero for that homework assignment unless you have made other arrangements with me.

Late reaction papers will result in a one-point penalty in your score. Any late reaction papers need to be handed in by the end of the day on the succeeding Sunday.


Grades in the course are based on the model of A = 90%+, B = 80-89%, C = 70-79%, D = 60-69%, F = Below 60%. Cutoffs may be adjusted downward to permit grading on a curve.

Attendance is not mandatory. I will rely on your comitment to the course and to your personal circumstances to dictate your attendance. Excexxive bsence is generally associated with lower performance on tests and assignments.

(Go to the top of the syllabus)


You can get extra credit for this class in four different ways.

1. You can participate in an approved experiment within the Psychology Department. After participating, you need to write a summary of what you did in the study, what methodology they used, and what statistical analysis they will perform after collecting the data. You also need to indicate what, if anything, you got out of this research participation. (Please note: You do not have to say that you learned a lot, or even a little, from participating in a study. I seriously want to know what you got out of the experience.) If you do not hand in your responses to the points below, you will get one point for participation in the study and will not earn the maximum of two points.

These are the elements you must include in your summary of the study.

(a) You need to describe the research question for the study in which you participated

(b) You must outline of the methodology; that is, what you did during the study

(c) Why did you think about the way the study was conducted? Did you learn anything? What was it like to participate?

2. You can read and summarizing an approved journal article from a psychological journal. There are a few elements you must present. (a) You need to explain why the researchers did their work, (b) how they did it, (b) what statistical analysis they performed, and (d) what they concluded. You also need to indicate (e) how easy or difficult it was to understand the article and explain yourself.

3. You can bring a summary of a report in the popular media (e.g., magazine or newspaper article) that relates to the kind of research we deal with in class. Your written report should include what the research was about, what methodology they seem to have used, what the researchers concluded, and what additional information you would like to have seen in their news report that wasn't there.

When you are ready to submit your information, put your summary in the dropbox in Sakai.

4. If you write an exceptionally astute answer to a quiz question, I may award an extra point. This is a rare event, but each semester a few students write answers that are so remarkable and go so far beyond a minimal answer that I feel it deserves extra credit. In those cases, I will award such credit. The extra point(s) will be added to the test, not to the final exam like the first three extra credit options.

Each activity (#1-3) will be worth a maximum of two percent on your final exam grade, with a maximum of ten points allowed. This means that you can participate in five studies for extra credit. Before doing any extra credit work for the second or third options above, you must check with me in advance so that I can assess its suitability. The credit you earn for each one will depend on the quality of your write-up. Please note that you are not guaranteed two points per attempt; part of your score depends on the quality of your answers. If you do not write up a description of your participation, you will receive one point for participating.

All extra credit submissions must be in the Sakai dropbox by the end of the day on Monday, April 26.

Spring 2021 Academic Calendar


January 25

Online Instruction: Semester & Block I Courses



Last Day to ADD/DROP Semester Courses 
Last Day to ADD/DROP Block I Courses
Last Day to Audit Semester & Block I Courses             


February 5

Last Day to Request S/D/F Option for Block I Courses


February 8

On-campus Instruction: Semester & Block I Courses


February 12

Last Day to Request S/D/F Option, Semester Courses


February 16

No Classes


February 26

Last to Withdraw with “W” in Block 1 Courses


March 3

Last Day to Revoke S/D/F Option in Block 1 Courses


March 12

Block 1 Ends*


March 17

Block 1 Final Grades Due at 10:00 p.m.


March 22

Block 2 Begins


March 24

Mid-Term Grades Due at 10:00 p.m.


March 28

Last Day to Add/DROP Block 2 Courses
Last Day to Audit Block 2 Courses


March 29

No Classes


April 2

Last Day to Request S/D/F Option in Block II Courses
Last Day to Revoke S/D/F Option in Semester Courses
Last Day to Withdraw with "W" in Semester Courses
Last Day for withdrawal/Leave of Absence with “W”


April 6    

Fall 2021 Course Registration Begins
Summer 2021 Application for Graduation Due (online)


April 23

No Classes
Last Day to Withdraw with "W" in Block II Courses
Last Day to Revoke S/D/F Option in Block II Courses


May 7

Last Day of Classes


May 10

Reading Day

Tuesday to Friday

May 11-14

Final Exams


May 17

Senior Week Begins


May 19

Final Grades Due at 10:00 p.m.


May 23


*There is a one week pause between the end of Block I classes and the start of Block II classes. Full-semester classes continue during this time, with a one-day break on Thursday, March 18.

Excerpt from the In accordance with New York State law, students who miss class due to their religious beliefs shall be excused from class or examinations on that day. The faculty member is responsible for providing the student with an equivalent opportunity to make up any examination, study, or work requirement that the student may have missed. It is suggested that students notify their course instructors at least one week before any anticipated absence so that proper arrangements may be made to make up any missed work or examination. Any such work is to be completed within a reasonable time frame, as determined by the faculty member.

Interfaith Calendar:

Standards of Acdemic Conduct

  1. Academic honesty is a cornerstone of the mission of the College. Unless it is otherwise stipulated, students may submit for evaluation only that work that is their own and that is submitted originally for a specific course. According to traditions of higher education, forms of conduct that will be considered evidence of academic misconduct include but are not limited to the following: conversations between students during an examination; reviewing, without authorization, material during an examination (e.g., personal notes, another student's exam); unauthorized collaboration; submission of a paper also submitted for credit in another course; reference to written material related to the course brought into an examination room during a closed-book, written examination; and submission without proper acknowledgment of work that is based partially or entirely on the ideas or writings of others. Only when a faculty member gives prior approval for such actions can they be acceptable.
  2. It is the responsibility of instructors to inform students clearly in writing specific rules, procedures, and/or expectations pertinent to their particular course that differ from those identified in paragraph A of this section. In those courses where limited consultation among students is permitted in the preparation of assignments, it is extremely important for instructors to clarify the guidelines for appropriate conduct.
  3. In situations where a student may have difficulty in distinguishing between acceptable behavior and academic misconduct, it is the responsibility of the student to confer with the instructor. This is particularly important for avoiding plagiarism when written sources are used in the preparation of papers or take home examinations.

    Because Ithaca College is an academic community, ignorance of the accepted standards of academic honesty in no way affects the responsibility of students who violate standards of conduct in courses and other academic activities.

  4. All members of the academic community are expected to assist in maintaining the integrity of Ithaca College, which includes reporting incidents of academic misconduct. Such instances may be reported to a faculty member, the dean of the school involved, or the director of judicial affairs.


Whether intended or not, plagiarism is a serious offense against academic honesty. Under any circumstances, it is deceitful to represent as one's own work, writing or ideas that belong to another person. Students should be aware of how this offense is defined. Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of someone else's published or unpublished ideas, whether this use consists of directly quoted material or paraphrased ideas.

Although various disciplines follow styles of documentation that differ in some details, all forms of documentation make the following demands:

A student is guilty of plagiarism if the student fails, intentionally or not, to follow any of these standard requirements of documentation.

In a collaborative project, all students in a group may be held responsible for academic misconduct if they engage in plagiarism or are aware of plagiarism by others in their group and fail to report it. Students who participate in a collaborative project in which plagiarism has occurred will not be held accountable if they were not knowledgeable of the plagiarism.

What, then, do students not have to document? They need not cite their own ideas, or references to their own experiences, or information that falls in the category of uncontroversial common knowledge (what a person reasonably well-informed about a subject might be expected to know). They should acknowledge anything else.

Other Forms of Academic Dishonesty

Other violations of academic honesty include, but are not limited to, the following behaviors:

These offenses violate the atmosphere of trust and mutual respect necessary the process of learning.

Note: Students who would like help in learning how to paraphrase or document sources properly should feel free to come to the Writing Center in 107 Smiddy Hall for assistance.

This page is maintained by Barney Beins, Ithaca College Department of Psychology
Last modified: January 2021

Copyright: Barney Beins 2002-2021