Assignment 2 Data collation, data analysis and guidance for the assignment

Overview of the study

Many students are interested in whether listening to music while they study affects how well they remember information. Irrelevant sound research explores the effect that sound has on mental processes in a controlled way. The topic of this study relates to how hearing speech versus non-speech sounds affects memory. Previous research suggests that any irrelevant sound, whether it is speech or non-speech (sine tones in this experiment), should disrupt a concurrent working memory task as long as it conforms to a certain auditory pattern.


The current study investigated this using the number of errors made while performing a working memory in three conditions. In the working memory task, your ability to correctly recall the serial position of a series of letters was tested. The number of errors you made in your recall of the position of the letters was recorded, and this is the variable you will now be comparing across the three different conditions in the study – one in which irrelevant speech was presented during the task, another in which irrelevant sine tones were presented, and a control condition where no sound was presented.

Can you formulate one or more appropriate hypotheses about the level of disruption in each condition based on what you know about how hearing irrelevant sounds affects concurrent working memory tasks?


Collating your data

You will now calculate the number of errors you made in each of the three different conditions. Open your SuperLab data file. You should be able to see a record of the number of errors you made in response to each of the serial probes (the questions at the end of each trial). There were 60 trials in total, 20 for each condition. You need to count the number of errors you made, out of a maximum of 20, for each condition.

To calculate the number of errors for each condition look at the column that includes ‘C’, ‘E’ and ‘NR’ data. ‘C’ indicates a correct response, ‘E’ indicates an error, and ‘NR’ indicates that no response was made for that trial. No responses (i.e. ’NRs’) are also counted as errors, so you need to count and add together the number of ‘Es’ and ‘NRs’. In your data file, the trials labelled ‘speech’ had speech sounds, the trials labelled ‘tones’ had sine tone sounds, and the trials labelled ‘quiet’ had no sound. Record the errors you made below. If you require further guidance, please ask your tutor for help.


Analyzing your data

Now you have your data you must enter it into SPSS, and then analyse the differences in the number of errors in each of the three different conditions. To decide how you are going to analyse your data, first read the overview of the study, and think about your hypotheses and the design of your study. Now consider the answers to the following questions:

  • What was the dependent variable for your study?
  • What was your independent variable, how many levels did it have and what were they?
  • Was the design of your study within-groups or between-groups (i.e. did each participant complete each level of the IV, or were there different participants for the different levels of the IV)?
  • What are you interested in finding out i.e. what differences will your analysis look at?

Now use the information from previous weeks (lectures and workshops) to choose and conduct an appropriate analysis on your data.


Writing Up Your Assignment

Assignment 2 is a write up of the study that you have participated in today on irrelevant sound. The work must be submitted no later than 12 noon on Monday 18th November 2019. You must submit an electronic version of your work via Turnitin by this deadline. As with other assignments on the module, this assignment is exempt from anonymous marking. The report excluding references and appendices should be 2000 words.

PLEASE NOTE: Failure to submit the Turnitin version of this work by the deadline will be taken as non-submission of the work. Penalties will be applied in line with University regulations on the late submission of coursework as set out in your Programme Guide.

You must write up your research report according to the format set out in the Reporting Style Guidelines for Practical Reports and Projects (available on Blackboard in the PSYC2013 Module documents folder). The marking rubric that will be used when your work is assessed is included in the Assignment 2 folder on Blackboard (in the Assessments tab). You should use this to ensure that you meet all the criteria for the report. Some further guidance is provided below.

Your submission should follow the usual structure for a quantitative research report:

  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Method
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • References
  • Appendices


You need to include a review of the literature on irrelevant sound that is sufficient to provide the reader with an appropriate background to your study. There are some excellent initial discussions about the irrelevant sound effect in a variety of journal articles. Jones, Madden and Miles (1992) provide the first glimpse of what was later termed the ‘equivalence hypothesis’. Jones and Macken (1993) also provide an account of the phenomenon, as well as some background on the irrelevant sound effect. LeCompte, Neely and Wilson (1997) provide a contrary view, claiming that speech (in particular meaningful speech) is important. Some further journal articles are available in the Week 5 workshop folder.

As this is a replication of a fairly classic cognitive effect, you should explore the rationale for conducting this research in the context of the previous research outlined above. At the end of your introduction, you will need to construct a set of clear and appropriate hypotheses. Hint: think carefully about whether you want to write one or two-tailed hypotheses.


Remember that for the Participants subsection you must state the number of males and females in your sample, the age range of your participants, and the mean and standard deviation of the age of your sample.


To help you write the Design subsection you should think about the following questions.

  • What is the IV in your study, and how many levels are there?
  • What is the dependent variable?
  • Is the design within-participants or between-participants?
  • What controls were in place within the study design?


For the Materials and Apparatus and the Procedure subsections, it may be useful to re-run the SuperLab experiment (in the Psychology labs or the Psychology cubicles) and note down the key details.


The Materials and Apparatus subsection should clearly describe the hardware, software and most importantly the stimuli that were used in the task (including how they were presented).


Your Procedure subsection should clearly describe the order of events that occurred in the task, as well as any timings of these events. Do not forget to describe ethical considerations in the Procedure subsection.


In the Data collation subsection, you should describe what was done to the raw data that you collected before it was analysed (i.e. how did you calculate the errors that were made in each condition). You do not need to describe the statistical test that you used in this section.


The following information about the study you conducted is provided to help you write your Method section. You must decide what to include and where to include it.


The speech utterances (the letters “b”, “i”, “j”, “n” and “z”) were created using AT & T Natural Voices® Text-to-Speech Demo in the Mike (US English) voice, edited using SndSampler Editing Software (Alan Glenn, Midland USA). Simple sine tones of the following frequencies: 87, 174, 348, 696 and 1302 Hz, were created using SndSampler Editing Software (Alan Glenn, Midland USA). The experiment was presented using a Hewlett Packard Compaq PC. Sound was presented through Sennheiser evolution headphones. Sound intensities were between 50-70 dB. The experiment was presented using Superlab 5.0 Stimulus Presentation Software.


Visual stimuli consisted of 20 lists of five consonants (F, M, T, Q and R), the order of which was manipulated so that no two sequences were presented in the same 20 block condition. The same consonant did not appear in the same serial position in any two consecutive trials. No sequences contained alphabetic sequences, common abbreviations or common acronyms. The same initial 20 sequences of consonants and serial probes were used in the same order for the other conditions of the experiment.


There were three different versions of the script, versions A, B and C. These different versions presented the conditions in different orders. This was done to counter fatigue and practice effects. For each of the auditory conditions, the five serial positions were probed a total of four times- twice when the probe was a true reflection of the position of the letter in the sequence, and twice when the probe was an incorrect reflection of the true serial position of the letter in the preceding sequence. Each script had a short 5 trial practice session at the start in which no sound was presented and no data was collected. There were 60 trials in total, 20 for each condition. Auditory stimuli were presented for 250ms each, followed by an inter-stimulus interval of 250ms until the next auditory stimulus was presented. Visual stimuli were on screen for a period of 250ms, followed by an inter-stimulus interval of 250ms where the screen remained blank. At the presentation of the last letter in the sequence there was a 6-second retention interval, where the screen remained blank but any irrelevant sound was still played. After this the serial probe appeared, and remained on the screen until either 3 seconds had elapsed or the participant had made a response.



The ‘Reporting Style Guidelines for Practical Reports and Projects’ contains key information for presenting your descriptive and inferential statistics in APA format. Remember to include effect size calculations and graphs only where results are statistically significant.


You should provide a full discussion that looks at the theoretical and practical implications of the findings. You should also address the limitations of your research and offer considered ideas for future research. Try and avoid vague and glib ideas for extending the research – for example undeveloped criticisms related to the age or gender make-up of the sample.



Citations in the body of your work and the Reference list should be formatted according to the style of the American Psychological Association (APA). Please see the Referencing Guidelines for Essays, Practical Reports and Projects for further information.



You must include your SPSS output. You can also include relevant materials if you think they might be helpful to the reader. Remember that your appendices should be alphabetised in the order in which they are mentioned in the text of your report, and should have actual titles as well as alphabetical labels.


Reflection on Feedback

At the end of your report, you need to include a ‘Reflection on Feedback’ form, which can be found in the Assessments folder on Blackboard. Use this to state how you used feedback from previous work when writing this Assignment.



Jones, D.M., Madden, C., & Miles, C. (1992). Privileged access by irrelevant speech to short-term memory: the role of changing state. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 44A(4), 645-669.


Jones, D.M., & Macken, W.J. (1993). Irrelevant tones produce an irrelevant speech effect: implications for phonological coding in working memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 19(2), 369-381.


LeCompte, D.C., Neely, C.B., & Wilson, J.R. (1997). Irrelevant speech and irrelevant tones: The relative importance of speech to the irrelevant speech effect. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 23(2), 472-483.


Introduction and Aims:

This week you will complete any remaining analysis and write-up from last week, and get answers to any questions you may have about the assignment. You will also revise aspects of writing up a research report.

Learning outcomes:

On successful completion of this session, you should:

  • Feel more confident about writing a good research report.


Field (2018), Chapter 12 or 15.


Phrasing hypotheses and results

A poorly worded phrase in the hypotheses and results can say a lot about a student’s level of understanding, and so these are very important to get right. Even changing one word can dramatically improve the comprehensibility of a sentence. The following exercise provides examples of phrases from student’s reports. For each statement, identify the problems with the phrase and where possible, correct them to make better sense:


1)  “It was predicted that women would score more highly.”

2)  “There was a difference between attitudes to immigration and sex”

3)  “There was no effect of being male and female and attitudes to cannabis use.”

4)  “There was no difference for men and women between reaction times to correctly identify a face”

5) “It was predicted that participants in the control condition and the experimental condition would be different.”


Results Section Exercise

This exercise is designed to help you to think about what makes a good Results section. Consider the following Results sections which were written to describe the results of a Stroop experiment identical to the one you completed last week. Use the marking rubric for Assignment 2 in the Assessments folder on Blackboard to assess the students’ work, and try to give the student appropriate feedback on how they could improve. Would you rate the work as Excellent, Good, Satisfactory, Poor or Inadequate? Suggested ‘answers’ are included at the back of this handbook.


The mean for condition A was 28.43 (SD =6.11), the mean for condition B was 23.73 (SD =5.53) and the mean for condition C was 20.06 (SD =4.42). Mauchly’s test was not significant, therefore sphericity could be assumed. A one-way related ANOVA was conducted to compare the means for each condition, and the results showed that there were significant differences between the means, F(2, 148) =87.96, p <.001, ɳp2 =.54. See Appendix D for a figure showing the differences between the means.


A one-way repeated measures ANOVA showed that there were significant differences in mean ink-naming times between each of the three conditions: the Stroop condition, the Rhymes condition and the Anagrams condition, F(2, 148) =87.96, p <.001. Figure 1 shows the significant differences in mean ink-naming times for the Stroop, Rhymes and Anagrams conditions. Bonferroni-corrected post-hoc tests showed that the mean ink-naming time for the Stroop condition was significantly slower than for the Rhymes condition (p <.05) and was also significantly slower than for the Anagrams condition (p <.05). However, the mean ink-naming time for the Anagrams condition was not significantly slower than for the Rhymes condition (p >.05).

Figure 1. Mean ink-naming times in seconds for the Stroop, Rhymes and Anagrams conditions.

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