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PSYC100 Introduction to Psychology
Week 1 Discussion
Introducing Psychology
There are several steps to your assignment this week.
STEP 1: Watch “Distracted Driving: One Call Can Change Everything” video.
Transcript for Distracted Driving: One Call Can Change Everything Video
One goal of psychology is to conduct controlled experiments that let us understand the effects of something on an outcome. The research showing that distracted driving is a cognitive issue – not a motor issue – is important. If distracted driving were a matter of not being able to physically control the wheel while holding an object, then hands-free devices would solve the problem. But there is a cognitive issue involved–an important perceptual process known as “selective attention”. This is the ability to focus on some sensory inputs while tuning out others. Of course, the part we tune out while momentarily looking at our cell phone or talking on our cell phone–is our driving. This is why talking while driving is a problem, even if you’re not holding a phone. Our attention is divided. We know this because of experimental data. This is one way that psychological research helps society.
STEP 2: Review the Research Summary.
Research on Distracted Driving
In a 2008 study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, researchers Drews, Pasupathi, and Strayer examined the effects of talking on a cell phone while driving. Pairs of friends signed up for the experiment. Within each pair, one person was randomly assigned the role of “driver” and the other the role of “conversation partner.”
Participants assigned the role of “driver” were placed in a driving simulator. The simulator was designed to replicate the inside of an actual car. However, instead of regular windows and a windshield, high-fidelity graphics presented a simulated highway, including multiple lanes, overpasses, and on-and off-ramps. The graphics included other cars on the highway that could change speed or lanes, or try to pass other cars, thus requiring the driver to attend not only to the roadway but also the surrounding traffic. The driver’s task was to safely navigate to a rest area, where the driver should exit the highway. The rest area was located about 8 miles from the start of the drive, requiring about 10 minutes of driving time.
The driver completed the navigation task while simultaneously holding a conversation with the conversation partner. The conversation was about a close-call story that had not been previously shared. For example, a friend might share a close-call story about almost being caught cheating on an exam, or almost being hit by a car while on a bicycle. The conversation partner knew the driver also had a task of exiting the highway when arriving at a rest area.
By random assignment, half of the pairs held the conversation in-person, with the conversation partner seated as a passenger in the car (“passenger” condition). The other half of participants held the conversation via cell phone, with the conversation partner in a different location from the driver. In addition, all drivers also completed the driving task while not holding a conversation to provide a baseline measure of performance on the task. Order of the two tasks (while holding a conversation or while only driving) was counterbalanced across participants. During the driving task, a number of measures were collected to assess driving performance.
The figure below presents the main findings from the study.
figure shows that passenger conversation yield higher accuracy than cellphone conversations
Figure 1.1 Percent of participants in each group successfully completing navigation task (exiting at the correct location) while conversing.
Data adapted from: Drews, F.A., Pasupathi, M., & Strayer, D.L. (2008). Passenger and cell phone conversations in simulated driving. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 14, 392-400.
STEP 3: In your discussion post this week, first answer the following questions based on the study described in Step 2:
Based on the Research Summary on Distracted Driving:
What was the research question that guided the work by Drews, et al.? What was their hypothesis (specific prediction)?
The Independent Variables (IV) is/are:
The Dependent Variable (DV) is/are:
Were the participants randomly assigned to conditions? What is the purpose of random assignment?
What kind of research design did this study use, i.e., descriptive, correlational, or experimental? Explain your answer.
What can you conclude from looking at Figure 1.1?
Based on the Research Summary on Distracted Driving, develop your own research question and hypothesis that is related to the topic. This should be something that researchers could study next to learn more about the topic of Distracted Driving. Tips: The research question identifies what the study will focus on and guides the research process. The hypothesis is based on the research question. It is a statement that makes a prediction about the relationship among the variables in the study (you can use If-Then statements).
STEP 4: In a 200-400 word essay, how would you use the data from the Drews, et al. study to address the issue of Distracted Driving (feel free to be creative, you can create a plan or campaign)?
 Use APA-style citations in your response. Here is a library tutorial that shows you how:
STEP 5: At the end of your summary, post an open-ended discussion question, one that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”, about what you learned this week and solicit feedback from your classmates.
For example, “How would you conduct an experiment on…? Why do you think this may or may not work? What other issues might you address?”
STEP 6: Post responses (75-100 words each) to the questions of at least two of your classmates.

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