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Assignment 2, Research Methodology and Studying



SOCY 100: Introduction to Sociology

Montgomery College



In class, we have been exploring two major building blocks of sociology: research methodology/the science of sociology and the impact of groups and collectivities on our behavior. For this assignment you will bring these two topics together, analyzing a social scientific study that sheds light on the power of groups and authority figures. After having read about/watched/listened to a clip discussing a social scientific study, you will complete an assignment in which you discuss the components, major findings, and ethical implications of the research.




Choose only one of the following three options for this assignment:


Option 1: Stanley Milgram "Obedience" Study (A summary of the study on YouTube):


Option 2: Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Study (A slide show with text and pictures [click on the "Begin Slide Show" link at the bottom of the home page):


Option 3: "Fake TV Game Show 'Tortures' Man, Shocks France" (A podcast from NPR):




After having read Chapters 2 and 5 in your book and having watched/listened to one of the above explanations of a study, type responses to the following questions:

(It is best to use ONLY information from your textbook; do not try to find additional information online - it will likely be more of a detriment than a help. If you do, however, you MUST cite the webpage(s)/sources of information you used in your answer. I would prefer that you number each of your answers so it corresponds with the numbered questions, but if you are more comfortable typing your answers in a traditional paper format, you are welcome to do so.)


1.      (15 points) In a paragraph or two, write a brief summary about the major components of the research. How was the study set up? Who were the participants? (Your explanation of the research should be clear enough that someone who may have never heard of this study would get a clear picture of how the research was done. This should also be in your own words.)


2.      (5 points) If you were replicating this research, what would your hypothesis for the research be? Briefly explain why you think what you do.


3.      (10 points) What is the dependent variable? Independent variable(s)? (Be clear about which is the independent and which is the dependent variable.) In a sentence or two, explain the relationship between the independent and dependent variables.


4.      (10 points) Which research method was used? Write a paragraph (or two) in which you discuss (at least) one strength of this research method for this project and (at least) one weakness of this research method for this project. Do you think another research method would have been a better method by which to answer the research question? Why or why not?


5.      (15 points) Discuss the results of the research. What were the findings of the study? (How did the subjects behave?)


6.      (25 points) Write 1-3 paragraphs in which you discuss the implications of the findings. In other words, how does this research add to our understanding of the extent to which groups and/or authority can have power over behavior? 

a.       In your discussion of the implications of the research, use information from Chapter 5 in order to argue the ways by which this research demonstrates the power of groups/authority on an individual's behavior. 

b.      You must use at least two concepts/terms/theories from Chapter 5. Be sure that these terms are relevant to the study's findings and that you show you understand the concept/term/theory in your writing. You must bold or underline the concept/term/theory that you use or else it will not be counted.


7.      (20 points) In 1-2 paragraphs, write whether or not you think this research was ethical. What were the specific ethical issues posed in this research? Do the ends (the study's findings and implications) justify the means? Why do you believe what you do?

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