Stimulus Materials and Researcher Instructions –Fall, 2020 – Apology Study
Instructions:This Fall, 2020, we are going to run a series of studies looking at how participants respond to apologies. We’ll do this by showing participants a fake Twitter page that contains a Twitter user’s apology, but we will alter the nature of the apology (sincere, insincere, or no apology). The main focus of our study is to see how participants perceive the Twitter user’s apology (or in some case, the user’s “non-apology”). After all, research suggests that people think that an insincere apology is worse than no apology. Here, we can test just how sincere that apology really needs to be within a social media context!
1). For your first experimental study, you will play the role of researcher, and you will collect data from threedifferent participants, However, your instructor will combine your data with other class members, so your final data set will have nearly 150 participants! There are two phases to this study. In the first phase, you will orally ask participants if they are willing to participate in a research study. In the second phase, participants will complete a five-part survey. In Part One, participantswill read severalTwitterpostsfroma user named Charlie Webb, whoconfesses to not wearing a face mask to the mall during the Covid 19 pandemic and getting into an argument with a mall employee.Charlie’s tweets end with either no apology, a sincere apology, or an insincere apology. In Part Two, participantswill rate Charlie’s apology. In Part Three, participantswill rate Charlie’s behavior and general characteristics. In Part Four, participants will complete demographic questions. Finally, in Part Five, participants will tell us about the general nature of Charlie’s apology (our manipulation check in this study). To run this study, use the following steps:
A). Your first task is to approach three different participants (not all at the same time!). Preferably, they should not be people that you know well (i.e. do not use your best friend or family members), and they cannot be taking apsychology research methods class during theFall, 2020 semester.
1). DO NOT complete this study yourself, and try to use only other FIU students or strangers as participants for this first study. The reason I don’t want you to use your family members / close friends as participants in this first study is because you will use them for a second follow-up studylater this semester. That is, you will recruit eight participants total this semester, three now and five later. Since participants can only participate in one study each, you need to make sure you have eight different people in mind to participate on your behalf. None of them should be aware of the study topic.
2). There are 48 students in our class, so with each student getting data from three people for our first experiment, our final sample will be around 140 participants total.
3). Important Covid Note: If you do not feel comfortable collecting “in-person” survey data for study one due to the Covid pandemic, there are some alternative means of data collection available to you (see below under Phase II).
B). Phase I: Informed Consent
1). Informed Consent:
• Ask the potential participant if he or she is willing to participate in a study for your research methods class. You will get their informed consent verbally. Tell them:
“Hello, this semester in my psychology research methods class, we are collecting different types of data (demographic information, open-ended questions, scaled questions, etc.) that we will analyze in our statistical lab. I was wondering if you would be willing to participate in my study. The study takes about five to ten minutes. There are no risks to participating, and the main benefit is that I can complete my class assignment. Will you participate?”
• An oral Yes or No response is fine. If they say no, thank them and find a different participant. If they say yes, move to the next step (Phase II – Questionnaire).
C). Phase II: “Questionnaire”
1). General Instructions
• After getting participant’s oral informed consent, randomly give them ONE of the three“Main Questionnaire” documents. (When you print out the document, look for the phrase “Research Study – Florida International University – Fall, 2020” at the top of each document). Thesesurveyscontain our primary independent and dependent variablesfor the study. One thirdof our research participants will be in the “Sincere Apology” condition, one thirdwill be in“No Apology” condition, and one third will be in the “Insincere Apology” condition.Participants should not know what condition they are in.
• Ask participants to follow the instructions at the top of the questionnaire.Tell them to read EVERYTHING on the Twitter page, as they will answer questions about it later and will need to do so through memory. They can move through the five “Parts” on the second page of the survey at their own pace. Make sure they complete all questionnaire parts (though they can leave demographic questions blank if they do not want to provide the details.
• Covid Alternative #1: If you want, send one of the three questionnaires to your participant by e-mail, and then have the participant return the completed questionnaire to you (or get their answers orally and transfer them to a copy of the questionnaire that you have in your own possession). It is important that participants actually see the survey (they need to see the actual Twitter posts), so you cannot simply read it to them. If they cannot see the survey themselves, find a different participant or use Covid Alternative #2
• Covid Alternative #2: Your instructor will provide you with some already completed surveys. Note that this does ruin the integrity (and validity!) of the study, but if you are uncomfortable collecting data or cannot do so safely, this Covid Alternative #2 is available to you. Please request the documents from your instructor at least two days before the due date).
• In Part I, participants look at the Twitter page for a user named Charlie Webb. Note that there is no gender associated with “Charlie”. This is intentional. We don’t want Charlie’s gender to influence how participants’ perceive the apology, hence the gender-neutral name “Charlie”. The majority of the twitter page is identical across all study conditions. It contains a mastheadpicture with a generic quote (“Do Something Great”), a profile “picture” of Charlie (an image of a comet), a genericprofile (containingbasic information about Charlie), items commonly found on Twitter (menu options, people or stories to follow, search bar, etc.), and a series of tweets from Charlie.These tweets arethe most important part of the page, as they discuss an incident in which Charliegot into an argument at the mall for not wearing a face mask during the Covid pandemic. The first three tweets are identical across all conditions.
o The first three tweets vaguely describe the same incident. They say:
I’ve had a lot of people ask me about the “incident” that occurred this summer, and I wanted to let everyone know what happened. After the summer quarantine (which seemed to last forever!) and the anxiety and financial stress I was under …
… I was thrilled to meet up with my friend Chris and just hang out at the mall. Unfortunately, I forgot my face mask at home. When an employee at the mall questioned me about it, I got upset, and we had a little … shouting incident …
… Okay, so maybe there was some invasion of the employee’s personal space, too. I’ll admit I was frustrated, and I could tell the employee was upset. I think Chris was upset, too. Yes, I was “escorted” from the mall (and banned for a while), but I’d like to think the incident is now in the past.
o So what differs?There are some additional tweets specific to different conditions:
o In the “No” (N) apologycondition, the fourth (and final) tweet says:
… All I ask is that you leave the incident in the past as well. Thanks for your support. #WhatsDoneIsDone
o In the “Sincere” (S) apologycondition, there are two additional tweets (tweets four and five). These say:
… I want to say I am sorry about my behavior. I’m saying this to the mall, to the employee, and to Chris, who I embarrassed. What I did was wrong, and I accept total responsibility …
… I want all of you to know that I sent an apology note to the mall employee and that I accept the ban. When I do go back, I will never act like that again. I hope you all can forgive me, too. Thanks for your support. #SorrySorrySorry
o In the “Insincere” (I) apologycondition,the tweets are identical to the sincere apology condition with the exception of the ending of the last tweet, which has the word “Ha” and a different hashtag. That is, the final two tweets in this condition say:
… I want to say I am sorry about my behavior. I’m saying this to the mall, to the employee, and to Chris, who I embarrassed. What I did was wrong, and I accept total responsibility …
… I want all of you to know that I sent an apology note to the mall employee and that I accept the ban. When I do go back, I will never act like that again. I hope you all can forgive me, too. Thanks for your support. Ha! #SorryNotSorry
o A quick note for you (the researcher): If you look at the bottom of the survey in the footer on the second page, you will see one of the following: “N”, “S”, or“I”, which correspond to thethree study conditions:That is, N for “No Apology”, S for “Sincere Apology”, and “I” for Insincere apology. It’s a nice shorthand so you can tell which survey the participant completed (but this is not something you need to report in your papers – it’s just a handy reference for YOU as you collect data).
• In Part II, participants rate their impressions of Charlie Webb’sapology. Here, participants are asked to agree or disagree with eight statements, with all eightusing an interval scale ranging from 1 (Strongly Disagree) to 6 (Strongly Agree). These statementsinclude, “Charlie’s apology acknowledged the behavior was wrong”, “Charlie’s apology showed an acceptance of responsibility”, “Charlie’s apology showed an expression of remorse”, “Charlie’s apology included an offer to pay back (compensate) for the behavior”, “Charlie’s apology involved a pledge not to engage in the behavior again”, “Charlie’s apology seemed forced, “Charlie’s apology seemed sincere”, and “I would accept Charlie’s apology”.
o Although you can look at any (or all) of these statementswhen you write Paper II (which focuses on the methods and results for this study), you only need to focus on one or two of them in your analysis. We expect participant ratings to differ depending on their condition. That is, participants in the sincere condition should strongly agree that Charlie’s apology acknowledged the behavior was wrong compared to participants in both the no apology condition and the insincere condition. However, participants in the insincere condition should strongly disagree that the apology acknowledged the behavior was wrong. The no apology should fall in the middle of the “agreement” scale. This prediction is the same for most dependent variables in this section. That is, participants in the sincere condition will more strongly agree that the apology showed an acceptance of responsibility, an expression of remorse, an offer to pay back the person wronged, and a pledge not to engage in the behavior again compared to all other conditions (with those in the insincere condition strongly disagreeing with these items).
• In Part III, participants will rate several statements about Charlie and Charlie’s behavior, all rated on the same 1 (strongly disagree) to 6 (strongly agree) scale. These include, “I think Charlie’s behavior was wrong”, I think Charlie’s behavior was understandable”, “I think Charlie’s behavior is forgivable”, “Charlie seems regretful”, “Charlie seems selfish”, “Charlie seems moral”, “Charlie seems rude”, and “I don’t think people should be forced to wear a mask at stores if they don’t want to wear it”. Since we are more interested in focusing on the apology in our study, we probably will not analyze any of these dependent variables, but they might give us a fuller picture of how participants perceive Charlie.
• In Part IV, participants will complete demographic questions. Most of these items are easy to complete without violating participant’s privacy, but they will know they can leave blank any question(s) they feel uncomfortable answering.
• In Part V, participants will tell us whetherCharlie’s tweets ended with an apologetic, neutral, or non-apology hashtag. That is, participants choose which of the three hashtags they saw:, #SorrySorrySorry, or #SorryNotSorry#, or WhatsDoneIsDone. Unlike the statements in Parts II and III (which used interval scales, allowing us to analyze them with t-Tests or ANOVAs), the nominal scale used in Part V (three answer options in no particular order) only permit us to use a chi square analysis. We’ll discuss these statistical tests more when we get to Paper Two.
D). Once participants have completed the questionnaire, debrief them regardingthe study.That is, tell them about the apology manipulationand your main hypothesis. Read themthe following:
“Thank you for participating. The purpose of this study is to determine how participants perceive apologies that seem sincere or insincere. All participants read a series of tweets from a Twitter user named Charlie recounting an incident where Charlie got into an argument over not wearing a face mask to the mall during the Covid pandemic. Although the incident was the same in all study conditions, Charlie’s apology over twitter differed. In one condition, Charlie did not apologize at all. This is our control condition. In a second condition, Charlie gave a sincere apology. In a third condition, Charlie seemed to give a sincere apology, but at the end provided the sarcastic hashtag #SorryNotSorry. The goal of our study is to see if the manner in which Charlie apologizes influences how participants feel about both Charlie and the apology.
In general, we predict that participants in the sincere apology condition will view the apology (and apologizer) more favorably than participants in both the no apology and insincere apology conditions, though participants will viewan insincere apology less favorably than no apology.
More specifically, if participants view a sincere apology (compared to an insincere apology or no apology), then they will more strongly agree that the apology showed an acknowledgement of wrongfulness, an acceptance of responsibility, an expression of remorse, an offer to pay back the person wronged, and a pledge not to engage in the behavior again, though participantswho view an insincere apology willmore strongly disagree with these statements compared to those who see no apology. In addition, if participants view a sincere apology (compared to an insincere apology or no apology), then they will more strongly agree that the apology is sincere, with participants ironically finding no apology more sincere than an insincere apology.**
We will test these hypotheses in our methods course this semester. Thank you for participating!
**Methods Students: Note that theunderlined paragraphs above will be helpful when you write Paper I! In fact, you can use that underlined paragraphs in your first paper if you like (just copy and paste it into your hypotheses). However, the predictions ARE NOT INCLUDED in your minimum page count. That is, you can copy/pastethe predictions, but they do not count in the page minimum! Also note that in the last underlined paragraph, I highlighted six different dependent variables (wrongfulness, responsibility, remorse, etc.). Since you are not required to analyze every dependent variable in Parts II and III of your survey, feel free to edit this underlinedparagraph to include ONLY the two dependent variables that you actually analyzed (this applies mostly to Paper II when you figure out which DVs you want to focus on in your Results Section analysis. There is no point in making predictions about dependent variables you did not analyze, so focus on the two dependent variable most relevant to your own study in your predictions.). For example, if you look only at the dependent variables “Charlie’s apology seemed sincere” and “Charlies apology showed an acknowledgement of wrongfulness”, you can shorten the hypotheses to the following:
If participants view a sincere apology (compared to an insincere apology or no apology), then they will more strongly agree that the apology showed an acknowledgement of wrongfulness and more strongly agree that the apology is sincere, with participants ironically finding no apology more likely to acknowledge wrongfulness and more sincere than an insincere apology.
2). Hold ontothe completed questionnaires, as you will use them in an upcoming lab. You will enter data into SPSS and analyze it during your lab. Important note: Each student researcher is responsible for collecting data from three participants (one participant for each study condition – N, S and I). However, we will combine survey data from ALL students in your lab section, so your final sample will include at least140 or so participants. In your papers (especially Paper II), you will use this total set of participants (at least 140) and NOT just the three that you collected yourself. Don’t even discuss “Three participants”, as that is not correct. Discuss ALL 140 participants in your papers
3). One last note: Pay close attention to these instructions! You can use them as the basis for Paper II later this semester when you discuss your methods section. That being said, these instructions are too long for a methods section, and includes information you will need to omit for Paper II. When writing that paper, make sure to only report the important aspects (what you actually did in the study).
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