Turn a Tweet into an activity

Psychologist Richard Wiseman is a regular on Twitter. He recently tweeted about a piece of research, published in Scientific American, that found that people were more generous to a charity collector when they had just travelled up an escalator than when they had just travelled down one. The authors suggested that height might act as a metaphor for virtue and increase our chance of being “good” without our awareness. They replicated the link between height and pro-social behaviours in a number of situations.

Turn this tweet into a learning activity to help students appreciate “how science works” by simply asking students, without introducing the research finding first, if they were a busker on the Underground and wanted to make as much money as they could, should they a) stand at the top of the escalator, b) the bottom or c) stand nowhere near the escalator. Introduce the gist of the research after they have shared their thoughts and ask students to comment on the methodology and applications of this research, perhaps even suggesting a follow up study. If your school/college has a charity event in the calendar this could be tied in to increase the relevance. I would use this as a quick lesson starter activity, to introduce aspects of research design or simply to get my students thinking like Psychologists.

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