An Experiment To Determine If Colour Aids Memory Biology Essay

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The aim of the experiment was to determine whether color (IV) 1 has the power to affect the STM (Short term memory) of a person. The two experimental groups got word lists where in one word list contained 10 words with one word in the centre was in the color red and the other word list had the words alternating in black and red. The control group got a word list with all the words in black. I hypothesize those participants in experimental groups 1 and 2 will recall more number of words as compared to the control group. I have approached this investigation through free recall.

The method used was an experiment with independent measures. Participants were gathered by purposive random sampling. The independent variable (IV) was the words presented to the participants in color, the dependent variable (DV) was the number of words recalled and the control variable (CV) was the words presented in black colour. The average mean of recalled words group the control group was 6.2, the mean of the experimental group 1 was 6.46 and that for experimental group 2 is 7.73. The results are in line with WendyM.Sleeth's experiment and highlights that colour indeed aids memory.

INTRODUCTION: The cognitive psychology states that our behavior has much more to do other than simply our actions; it also includes creativity, perception, thinking, problem solving, memory and language. The cognitive field of psychology examines how these processes affect our behavior specially the processing of information.

By conducting the experiment I am trying to understand whether color has the power to increase our memory.

Wendy .M. Sleeth of the Missouri State University (2009) conducted a study wherein her sample size consisted of 41 participants .The participants were divided into 3 groups. The first group was given a word list having 12 words all in black color. The second group was given the same word list which had one word in red and the third group had the same 12 words with the only difference that they were alternated in the colors red and black. The results from this study were not significant when one word was in red, but was closer to being significant when the participants were presented with six red words alternated with six black words. This is study which I will be replicating and I am going to refer to this study the most while conducting my experiment.

Different colors can have different effects on people (Myers, 2004). Words in black are seen so often in text books, newspapers and periodicals that when a word is printed in colour like red it's has better impact on the memory. Myers had tried to highlight the use of red color in contrast to black indicating the words are remembered better when they are presented in the color red. In a similar manner even the alternate hypothesis of this experiment tries to show that the rate of recall of words is much higher when words are in red colour.

According to Denby (2002) finding that particular color which aids memorization the person's study skills could be effectively improved. According to a survey done by him newspaper ads in black and white, the recall rate was only 6% whereas when color was present the recall rate increased to 24%.This study again supports our alternate hypothesis.

I have considered a one-tailed hypothesis test for my study because I am considering the effects of colour. The possibilities I am considering over here are that colour will increase STM or it will not have an effect on memory.

H1 Alternate Hypothesis: We predict that the participants will recall the words in color more than the words in black .If H1 hypothesis is true then we will notice a rise in the recall rate in experimental group 2 for the color words and an even bigger increase of recall of words for experimental group 3.

H0 Null Hypothesis: The number of words recalled by all 3 groups will be more or less the same. There will be no noticeable pattern while reviewing the results of the three groups.

METHOD:

DESIGN:

This experiment was conducted using an independent sample design. The experiment contained three groups with fifteen students each.

Repeated measures will not be taken because I need to investigate whether colored words will enhance the participant's ability to recall words .It is more important to have the same words rather than the same people because my aim is to recognize the effect of color on the number of words recalled.

The experiment has word lists for each group with the same set of words printed in it- the control group will view the list with the words printed in black. While one of the experimental groups will receive a list with only one word in red, the second experimental group will receive the list with words printed in black and red in the alternate manner.

The independent variable (IV) will be the red colored words in the list while the dependant variable (DV) is the number of words recalled by each group.

The controls looked after will be that both the experimental as well as the control groups will be provided with the same words. Participants will be prohibited to interact with each other.

Ethics that will be followed during the experiment are:

The experimenter will not cause any form of harm to the participants or indulge in any form of bribery or deception.

Will provide the participants with the right to withdraw from the experiment at any time without any pressure to continue.

Parental consent will be taken beforehand

All participants will be debriefed at the end, and will have the right to withdraw their results.

PARTICIPANTS:

The total population size taken was 45 students. The experiment consisted of students from grade 9 to grade 12 of the RBK International Academy. The medium of instruction has been English as the participants were most comfortable with it.

The participants have been selected using purposive random sampling. Using the method chit-picking the participants were randomly allocated into 3 groups. The purpose of using probability sampling in our purposive sample was to make sure that each participant has an equal chance to be part of one of the three groups. The participants were in the age group 14-17 years of age. They are all Indians who come from families of the upper income strata.

The participants were divided into three different groups:

Group 1- Control

Group 2- Experimental 1

Group 3- Experimental 2

MATERIALS:

Three lists of random words that are not frequently used in everyday life.

The first list with 10 words printed entirely in black

The second list of 9 words in black and 1 word in red.

The third list of 5 words in black and 5 in red.

45well sharpened pencils.

45 erasers.

45 blank sheets of paper.

Stop watch

1 instruction sheet to be administered orally by the experimenter

10.45 consent forms

11.45 debriefing sheets

PROCEDURE:

Before the participants are ushered into the room, the seating arrangement will be taken care of. The room will be well-ventilated and proper lighting arrangements will be made.

Each participant will be given a sheet of paper with a list of words written on them.

For one minute, they will be instructed to look over all the words in the list given to them.

At the end of one minute, the list of words will be taken away from the participants or the participants will be asked to place it at the edge of their desks.

They will be then asked to recall and write down as many words as they can remember on a sheet of paper that will be distributed to them.

The sheets of paper will then be collected from the participants and all the data will be analyzed.

Debriefing of the participants will then take place.

The participants will then be dismissed.

Diffusion of treatment was avoided by keeping the participants separate and strictly forbidding communication.

RESULTS:

Mean Values of the three groups: (The mean values have been rounded off to the nearest whole number to represent it in the graph)

Serial number

Total No of words

Total No of words recalled

No of Right words

No of Wrong words

Group 1

10

6.2 ≈ 6

5

2

Group 2

10

6.46 ≈7

6

2

Group 3

10

7.73≈8

7

1

Graph 1.1 is a column graph showing the mean values of the words recalled by the three groups. From the graph it can be deciphered that the mean average words recalled for experimental group 2 is higher than control group 1. In experimental group 3 we see a furthermore rise in the recall rate. The number of words recalled right show an increasing trend from group 1 to 3 whereas the wrong words recalled show a decreasing trend from group 1 to 3.

To test the significance of the results obtained a t-test was utilized as it was independent sampling design. The hypothesis was one-tailed because a direction for the results was predicted. The df (degrees of freedom) =58 and the P value = 0.05. The t value must be equal to or more than 1. The t value for group 1 is -1.3 whereas for group 2 it is 0.52 and for group 3 it is 2.35. The results were found to be significant (p< 0.05) which means the probability of the null hypothesis to be true is less than 5%. Therefore, the null hypothesis was rejected and our research hypothesis was accepted. According to our results there appears to be a significant difference in the recall rate of words by the control group and the experimental groups.

DISCUSSION:

The aim of the study is to prove that memory increases when color is introduced. The experiment is a replication of a research study conducted by Wendy .M.Sleeth of the Missouri State University. The sample size she studied had 41 participants , who were divided into two experimental groups and one control group wherein the first group received a word list with all words in black and in the second group there was one word in red and the third list had words alternating in red and black. The results highlighted that the second experimental group had more significant impact on the recall of the words than the other two. Even in this experiment the experimental groups had a better recall rate.

Mean value for the first group is 6.2, mean value for the second group is 6.46 and the mean value for the third group is 7.73. We have noticed a rise in the recall rate in group 2 for the color words and an even bigger increase of recall of words for group 3 as compared to group one.

In order to evaluate whether or not the difference between three or more sets of data is significant (real) difference the t-test is used. As I have three sets of data I have used the t-test to further analyze my results. To accept our research hypothesis the t-value should be equal to or more than 1. The value of t1 is -1.306, t2 is 0.521 and t3 is 2.354. At the significance level of 0.05, the critical values for the first group are negative and the second group becomes positive and the third group it is greater by a huge extent in comparison to the other two groups.

The experiment had its different strengths and limitations. The methodology of the experiment was carried out well in a classroom setting. I was allowed strict control of extraneous disturbances such as preparing the experiment room in advance, making sure that I am not disturbed when the experiment is conducted. The sample size used was greater than that of the original study. We ensured that the one participant participates in only one group to avoid repeated measures. The words were chosen in such a fashion that it was not used in day to day conversations so the STM of the participants can be exclusively studied without any linkage to the thought processes occurring on a daily basis for e.g. if we would have taken a word like picnic and sandwiches our minds would automatically form a link between the two words.

The main disadvantage of the study was it lacked in ecological validity. All the participants were from the same school hence they were adapted to a certain type of teaching due to which they had similar mindsets.

For future replications of the experiment first conducted by Wendy.Sleeth the experimenters should make sure they practice mock experiments so that on the main experiment day they are confident and know what to expect from the participants. The experimenter has to be very careful while preparing the list of words. It would be advisable to use pencils due the fact that with pens it is possible to scribble some words in some body part or the desk and it would be more visible than when done with pencils.

CONCLUSION:

Having done the experiment, the results of the experiment support the research hypothesis that is when words are presented in color they are retained in the memory faster and the person recalls the words better. The results are in line with the results of the experiment 'The Use of color to increase memorization' conducted by Ms.Wendy .M. Sleeth (2009)

References/Bibliography:

Secondary sources

(2006). International Baccalaureate . In A. D. Paul Whetham (Ed.), PSYCHOLOGY (p. 432). Victoria: IBID Press,Victoria .

Cognitive Psychology: A Student's Handbook, 6th Edition. In B. M. Keane.

Primary Sources:

SLEETH, W. M. (n.d.). Missouri State university. Retrieved September 20th, 2009, from http://clearinghouse.missouriwestern.edu/manuscripts/480.php

Appendix 1:

Word List 1: (All words were presented in black ink.)

Commitment

Behavior

Fascination

Impaired

Underdeveloped

Contradiction

Paranoid

Siesta

Scholarship

Temperament

Appendix 2:

Word List 2: (All words were presented in black ink, but only one word presented in red ink.)

Commitment

Behavior

Fascination

Impaired

Underdeveloped

Contradiction

Paranoid

Siesta

Scholarship

Temperament

Appendix 3:

Word List 3: (Alternate words were presented in black and red ink.)

Commitment

Behavior

Fascination

Impaired

Underdeveloped

Contradiction

Paranoid

Siesta

Scholarship

Temperament

Appendix 4:

INDIVIDUAL CONSENT FORM:

We would like to provide you with information about the psychology experiment which will assist you to choose whether to participate or not .If you have made the decision to participate please be aware that at any point of the experiment you are free to withdraw without any penalty. The experiment will investigate the short term memory.

I have been asked to participate in a research study to be conducted by Sharanya Menon and Vanessa Kristin Fernandez under the supervision of the IBO. The results obtained from the experiment can be used as an analysis of the study.

Furthermore, I understand that:

The study is going to be conducted as described in the information sheet a copy of which I have gone through.

I have decided to participate voluntarily.

My personal information will remain in anonymity.

The results will remain confidential.

I will be completely debriefed.

Please fill in your name along with signature and the date in the spaces provided below.

Full Name...................................................................

Signature.................................................................

Date.........................

Appendix 5:

PARENTAL CONSENT FORM:

Dear parent,

We are the grade 11 IB Psychology Higher Level Class students. We request your permission to allow your son/daughter to take active part in our experiment. The experiment will take place on.....................................

This experiment will require them to recall as many words as they can. There are definitely certain ethical considerations which will be followed. This ensures that the student will not encounter any harm and will be debriefed at the end of the experiment. Your child will have the right to withdraw their results at anytime during the experiment.

If you accept for your son/daughter to take part in our experiment,

Please fill in the spaces below.

Student's Name.................................................

Parent's Name....................................................

Date.....................................

Appendix 6:

DEBREIFING FORM:

We would like to thank you very much for your participation in this study. We appreciate your time taken off your from busy schedule to participate in this experiment. Given below is the description of the purpose of this experiment.

AIMS AND IMPLICATIONS OF THE STUDY:

This experiment was based on the study conducted by Wendy M. Sleeth (Missouri Western State University) to study how color improves memorization. It was conducted to study the Short Term Memory. It was done to analyze whether adding colors enhanced the number of words recalled.

This experiment was conducted to prove that the number of words recalled will be better when words are presented in the color ink instead of black ink...

RIGHT TO WITHDRAWAL:

You are now completely aware of the purpose of this experiment and have the knowledge of how your results will be useful to us. If you have disagreement regarding the inclusion of your results in the experiment, you possess the right to withdraw your data at any point in this experiment without hesitation.

Thanking you again.

Appendix 7:

RESULTS

The results have been tabulated group wise. The mean of the total number of words recalled the total number of right words and the total number of wrong words has been calculated.

Group 1 was presented with List 1 with all words in black.

NAME OF PARTICIPANT

NO. OF WORDS RECALLED

NO. OF RIGHT WORDS

NO. OF WRONG WORDS

Participant 1

9

7

2

Participant 2

4

3

1

Participant 3

7

6

1

Participant 4

6

4

2

Participant 5

7

6

1

Participant 6

8

6

2

Participant 7

6

4

2

Participant 8

5

5

0

Participant 9

4

2

2

Participant 10

7

5

2

Participant 11

9

7

2

Participant 12

5

2

3

Participant 13

6

5

1

Participant 14

7

5

2

Participant 15

3

3

0

Average of total no of words

6

6

2

Mean of total words recalled = Total words recalled

No. Of Participants

= 9+9+8+7+7+7+7+6+6+6+5+5+4+4+3

15

=6

Mean of right words = 7+7+6+6+6+5+5+5+5+4+4+3+3+2+2

15

= 5

Mean of wrong words = 3+2+2+2+2+2+2+1+1+1+1

15

= 1.33

Group 2 was presented with list 2 where one word was in the color red.

NAME OF PARTICIPANT

NO OF WORDS RECALLED

NO OF RIGHT WORDS

NO OF WRONG WORDS

Participant 1

8

6

2

Participant 2

8

7

2

Participant 3

7

6

2

Participant 4

6

6

2

Participant 5

9

7

2

Participant 6

6

4

1

Participant 7

3

3

4

Participant 8

5

7

3

Participant 9

4

2

2

Participant 10

7

5

1

Participant 11

4

6

2

Participant 12

10

8

1

Participant 13

9

9

1

Participant 14

8

4

0

Participant 15

3

2

0

Average of total No of words

6

6

2

Mean of total words recalled = 8+8+7+6+9+6+3+5+4+7+4+10+9+8+3

15

= 91

15

=6

Mean of right words = 6+7+6+6+7+4+3+7+2+5+6+8+9+4+2

15

=6

Mean of wrong words = 2+2+2+2+2+1+4+3+2+1+2+1+1+0+0

15

= 2

Group 3 was presented with List 3 which had words alternating in the colors red and black.

NAME OF THE PARTICIPANT

NO. OF WORDS RECALLED

NO. OF RIGHT WORDS

NO. OF WRONG WORDS

Participant 1

7

7

0

Participant 2

8

7

1

Participant 3

9

7

2

Participant 4

7

7

0

Participant 5

7

6

1

Participant 6

6

5

1

Participant 7

9

9

0

Participant 8

7

6

1

Participant 9

9

8

1

Participant 10

4

4

0

Participant 11

8

7

0

Participant 12

9

8

1

Participant 13

9

8

1

Participant 14

7

6

1

Participant 15

10

8

2

Average of total No of words

7

7

1

Mean of total words recalled = 7+8+9+7+7+6+9+7+9+4+8+9+9+7+10

15

= 7

Mean of right words = 7+7+7+7+6+5+9+6+8+4+7+8+8+6+8

15

= 7

Mean of wrong words =0+1+2+0+1+1+0+1+1+0+0+1+1+1+2

15

= 1

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