12.03.2011

Excerpts from an Undergraduate Psychology Survey

Every year, literally dozens of psychology experiments and surveys are designed and carried out by undergraduate Psychology majors. And just as surely as these tests are designed, there are plenty of students who will volunteer to participate in them…either because the girl with the clipboard standing in the middle of the quad is cute, or because they are failing Psych 101 and need some extra credit points. But whether you are filling out a form in the middle of the cafeteria or typing in endless answers on an ancient computer in a forgotten corner of campus, these tests almost always consist of five to one hundred questions about basic morality and they are always boring. So, because I was talking to an old Psych major last night about this crap, I decided to write my own survey.

Here are some excerpts.

Question 1: Let’s just get this out of the way right now. Are you going to answer these questions honestly? Because a lot of people don’t. I mean, a lot of people. And they really shouldn’t, because this is part of our grade, okay? We worked really hard on these questions and if our results come back all screwed up again, Professor Halloran is probably going to fail us and we’ll never get to go to the Rat Lab. So are you? Based on how big of a douche you feel like being this afternoon, please answer “Yes” or “No” below.

Question 10: Hey man, you’re taking Psych 101, right? Dude, how cool was Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment? So awesome. We’re circulating a petition to get the department to let us stage a recreation next semester, so please answer “Yes,” “No,” or “Indifferent” below based on your support for this idea. Okay, back to the test.

Question 17: You are walking in the Mojave Desert and you find five dollars. A nearby jack-rabbit watches you pick up the money, and--though he does not say anything--you suspect that it might be his. In fifty words or less, please describe how you deal with this moral conundrum.

Question 25: This test has been going on for quite a while now. Depending on how quickly you are answering the questions, we predict that you have been alone in this room for anywhere between fifteen minutes to an hour. In that time, the temperature has not changed, the lights have not flickered, and there has been no high-pitched buzzing designed to trigger your rage centers. On a scale of one to five, how disappointed are you by the absence of each of these classic movie psychology test elements?

Question 34: A psychology student administering a survey has just asked you a deeply personal question about that time when you were five and your mother yelled at you and left you crying in the middle of the frozen food aisle at the grocery store. She does not give any indication as to how she knows about this incident. On a scale of Cyan to Crimson (where Cyan equals “Placid,” Crimson equals “Wrathful,” and the entire intervening color spectrum equates to the corresponding range of emotions) how does this invasion of childhood trauma and your innermost shameful moments make you feel?

Question 55: Now that the test is nearly complete, please think back to Question One. On a scale of one to eight, where One equals “Extremely Truthful” and Eight equals “Highly Duplicitous” please evaluate your adherence to your earlier answer. If you do not remember what Question One was, or cannot recall your answer, please enter “Do Not Know” to restart this test.

Question 79: When you signed up for this experiment you expected the test to be administered by a real person, didn’t you? Maybe they had one of those sweet Voight-Kampff machines from Blade Runner? Please roll the provided six sided die and input your answer where 1-3 equal “Yes” and 4-6 equal “No.” If your answer does not correspond with your die roll, you are permitted to reroll once. If your answer still does not correspond upon rerolling, please contact a member of the testing staff so that they may administer an Opinion Shift and bring your thinking more in line with that of your die.

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