Examples of research for “find the fake” AS intro task

Introduction lesson: planning for September

New AS students probably sit through 3 or 4 lessons on their first day of Sixth Form in September where they hear the same sort of thing: teacher expectations, textbook details and a quick course overview. On May 31st I blogged about the intro lesson I did last year where I asked students to put their detective skills to the test and find the fake piece of research from a selection dotted around the room (see earlier post: “Goodbye to predictable introduction lessons”).

This week I was reminded of a few pieces of research that I think would work really well for this activity. Here are 4 suggestions with links to more information.

Research to introduce AS students to Psychology

  1. A newly published case study of a blind man, HK (Ally, Hussey and Donahue, 2012), who remarkably remembers every detail of his life since he was about 11 years old. See Research Digest (BPS) blog post from 21st May 2012.
  2. An interesting experimental study which came to my attention via an article in New Scientist last year which concluded that odd numbers are associated with masculinity and even numbers with femininity (Wilkie and Bodenhausen, 2012).
  3. Gardner and Gardner’s (1969) study of Washoe the chimp. Efforts to teach a chimp sign language in order to test the assumption that language is uniquely human will be of interest to English Language students as much as Psychology students. You could use Terrace’s study of Nim Chimpsky instead.
  4. Darley and Latane (1964) study into bystander behaviour which revealed that when “other people” were believed to be present, participants were less likely to help when they overheard a confederate in distress (epileptic seizure).

Find the “fake”

I made up a study suggesting that social networking makes people more likely to be psychopaths. I suggested that a study had found that a sample of students (selected because they were infrequent users of social networking sites) who were asked to increase their usage of Facebook for the study over a 3 week period, scored higher on a scale designed to measure Psychopathy at the end of the study than their baseline score taken at the start of the study. I drew a sensationalised conclusion that this implied that violent crime will be on the increase as use of such sites continues to be popular.

Discussion: Learning outcomes

Primarily the activity is supposed to be fun, help students get to know each other and introduce the scope of Psychology. If the discussion that follows (justifying their choice for the fake) is effective the following outcomes should be achieved.

  • Students should be aware of a range of methods used in Psychology
  • Students should have had an opportunity to have their current knowledge/beliefs about behaviour challenged
  • They should appreciate the broadness of the subject
  • Students current ability to interpret, analyse and evaluate (and confidence doing so) can be assessed as a baseline to inform future planning

As a nice twist (before the feedback) ask one student from each group to move clockwise to the next group. This student must try to convince the next group that their choice was the correct one. This is a useful way to give students opportunity to ask each other questions and to justify their decisions in a way that is student, not teacher, led.



  1. Jen

    This is perfect for an introduction lesson! I have been thinking about a fun intro lesson the last couple of days, as I feel exactly the same about starting another year with the usual boring ‘information’ and expectations lesson – which is NEVER remembered! Any chance you have the information typed up – probably asking to much but saves reinventing the wheel!!! Thanks!

  2. Hollie

    I am new to teaching Psychology but did not want a boring, bog standard introduction to the subject. Thank you so much for this!

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