Method Overview. In a field experiment conducted in a men’s lavatory at a Midwestern U. university, subjects were assigned to one of three levels of…



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​Overview. In a field experiment conducted in a men’s lavatory at a Midwestern U.S. university, subjects were assigned to one of three levels of interpersonal distance. Men who entered a three-urinal lavatory to urinate were forced to use the leftmost urinal. A confederate was placed immediately adjacent to the subject, one urinal removed, or was absent from the lavatory. An observer stationed in a toilet stall timed the delay and persistence of micturation.

Subjects. Data were gathered on 60 users of the men’s lavatory. A user was included as a subject if no other user, besides the confederate, was present during his urination. If someone else was present or entered during urination, the user was not counted. Conditions were assigned and prepared before the subjected entered the lavatory. Subjects were not informed that they had participated in an experiment.

Procedure. The observed lavatory was just off a main hallway, adjacent to a large classroom. The observed use rate averaged about one person every 6 minutes. The restroom contained two toilet stalls and three urinals. The urinals were 18 inches wide with 18 inches of tile between adjacent urinals and extended up from the floor about 4 feet. The urinals were automatically flushed at 10-minute intervals.

The subjects were forced to use the leftmost urinal under one of three levels of interpersonal distance. In the close distance condition, a confederate appearing to urinate was stationed at the middle urinal, and a “don’t use, washing urinal” sign accompanied by a bucket of water and a sponge was placed on the rightmost urinal. This arrangement left a distance of approximately 16 to 18 inches between the shoulders of the subject and confederate. In the moderate distance condition, the confederate stood at the rightmost urinal and the bucket and sign were placed in the middle urinal. This arrangement left a distance of 52 to 54 inches between the subject and confederate. In a control condition, the confederate was not present in the lavatory and both the middle and right urinals had signs on them with the water bucket in between. 

An observer was stationed in the toilet stall immediately adjacent to the subjects’ urinal. During pilot tests of these procedures it became clear that auditory cues could not be used to signal the induction and cessation of micuration. The urinals were so silent that even the confederate standing adjacent to the subject could not hear the urine striking the urinal. Instead, visual cues were used. The observer used a periscope prism imbedded in a stack of books lying on the floor of the toilet stall. An 11 inch space between the floor and the wall of the toilet stall provided a view, through the periscope, of the user’s lower torso and made possible direct visual sightings of the stream of urine. The observer, however, was unable to see a subject’s face. The observer started two stop watches when a subject steeped up the urinal, stopped one when urination began, and stopped the other when urination was terminated. These times allowed calculation of the two dependent variables: delay of onset and persistence of micturation. 

1.​What were two flaws in the overall design? 

2.​What were the reliability coefficients?  Were they at an acceptable level?

3.​What were two threats to internal validity? How so?

4.​How externally valid would you rate the study? Why?


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