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Group Investigation: Impression Formation Essay

The focus of the investigation explored whether an individual’s gender impacts upon their first impressions of a female presenter after exposure to a ten second video. Impression formation is the process of recognizing, organising and collecting information in order to produce an integrated and logical impression. Impressions can be managed by the use of non-verbal communication or verbal communication.

Non-verbal communication can consist of gestures, how the person presents them, open or closed body language and eye contact, physical appearance and facial expressions are the most likely used cues to form impressions. The formation of the impression can also be assisted by verbal communication, which can be considered in terms of variations of speech, the manner of speech, the tone and quality of their words. Research in the area of impression formation is important as psychologists are interested in the formation of impressions, and importantly what influences impressions.

An understanding of this is something which has the ability to help people in regards to their personal life’s, for example if one was to appear for a job interview they would want to present a good first impression, thus knowledge regarding how to best manage this impression is important. The data which was collected from the participants was subjective quantitative, as all participants completed a self-report in the form of a first impression rating scale.

The data was based on participants thought, feelings and emotions in numerical form. The data will be presented in a bar graph, as the data collected was categorical, and will compare the means first impression scores of the female presenter for both males and female’s participants. It is expected that males will have a higher mean score in regards to the first impressions of a female presenter, in comparison to female’s first impression.

The results failed to support the hypothesis as the data showed that females scored a higher mean first impression score (M=947) in comparison to the males (M=900). This indicates that females generally have a more positive first impression perhaps because the females are forming an impression on their own gender, in turn performing a positive attitude and less biased opinion. The presenter produced an attractive body image of a slim figure; blonde hair and this may be seen as a desirable appearance, hence why the females found her appealing.

It is a possibility that the results were impacted by the decline of males in the sample, which is a limitation of this study. Importantly it could be overcome by introducing more males if the study was repeated to ensure more accurate results. Due to the sampling in this investigation being chosen from a Psychology class in one school, it was not random. Apart from the sample being representative of the population as each individual from the psychology class would vary in intellectual capabilities, and account for diverse socio-economic statuses.

The population was year 12 at Sacred Heart; this meant that the individuals age would fluctuate from 16,17 and the odd 18, this was not accounted for. A concern, which arose in the study, was gender bias, as out of 5 of the participants 4 of them were girls. This indicated that the results, which were obtained from the likert scale, were extremely prone to favouring one gender, being females. This also displayed an insignificant sample size, which was unable to provide a variability of characteristics.

In future research it is recommended that the sample would increase to include a variety of characteristics e. g. , public and rural schools throughout the state. This would in turn increase participants as well as over coming gender bias and increasing participant characteristics. Validity of research refers to the degree to which an experiment, test or measuring procedure actually measures the specific concept that the researcher is attempting to measure also known as face validity.

The external validity of the research could be questioned as the study was conducted in a classroom where participants were instructed to watch a video; this removed the participants from their natural environment. Due to participants being removed from their natural environment, external validity is reduced thus making these results limited in real a real life situation. A suggestion for future studies would be to conduct the study in a more natural environment, ensuring the results would be obtained in a real life situation. Reliability refers to the consistency and stability obtained from a research study.

If the results are to be considered reliable it is imperative that the research is repeated to determine if similar results are obtained. However due to the small sample size, which allowed minimal participant characteristics, and the gender bias, which appeared in the study, it was unlikely that similar results would be obtained if the study were repeated. The study is yet to be repeated, thus the reliability cannot yet be determined. A recommendation, which could be made to ensure the reliability of the study, is to repeat the study with the same method, to determine reliability.

A key strength, of the investigation, was the use of a clear method, which outlined the process of the study; this allowed the research to be easily repeated, in turn helping to determine reliability. The method appeared to be an advantage as it was simple to carry out and follow and it could easily be repeated. The method involved a quick 10-second video, which is easily provided, the study was easily to administer as well as results being provided in a likert scale, which allowed the study to be quick and informal.

Quantitative observational design appeared to be strength in the study. The design was used specifically due to the impossibility of manipulating the independent variable of gender. The use of quantitative observational design allows the use of genders to be investigated which increases external validity as it is naturally occurring. Despite this, certain weaknesses in the study were outlined. Subjective data supplies researchers with insight into participant’s thoughts and feeling’s, however it relies on participants being honest in their responses, which may become subject to bias.

It was a possibility that responses regarding the female presenter may have been dishonest or unrealistic in order to avoid appearing harsh by other participants, this is known as social desirability. To overcome this identification numbers were used, which increased the anonymity of all participants, helping to prevent the issue of social desirability. A second weakness, which arouse throughout the investigation was that the participants were all situated closely together, which could possibly consequence in other participants gaining knowledge prior to viewing the vide .

This is an issue as this would be likely to affect the validity and reliability of this study. Participants were able to communicate prior and during the viewing of the video, which had the ability to decrease concentration levels in many students. This could have been avoided if students were situated further away from each other and the experimenter excluded all extraneous variables from participants. Ethical considerations should be considered before, throughout and after the study to ensure the standards of the research.

Positively the participants provided informed consent for the experiment, and as all participants were aged over 16 years of age consent by parents/caregivers was unnecessary. Importantly, participants were informed of the type of study they were taking place in, in the case of the study they were informed they were viewing a female presenter for 10 seconds, and were to complete a likert scale in order to convey of first impressions of the presenter.

A crucial ethical consideration, which needs to be upheld during the study, is psychological harm; specifically ensuring no harm or discomfort is inflicted upon participants. Participants in the study might have experienced distress or discomfort during the study s they considered the extent to which impression are being formed of them by others. In order to overcome this issue of psychological harm towards the participants, debriefing could take place.

This involves informing the participants of the purpose of the research in the case of the study this was studying first impressions, also correcting and responding to any mistaken attitudes or beliefs, which the participants may have obtained about the research; an example of this is attitudes about impressions being formed on participants. A further recommendation in future studies is that participants are taught impression management techniques, which could be used to overcome the distress about negative impressions being formed on them.

In conclusion, these results displayed that females have a higher mean first impression of a female presenter after viewing a 10 second video. These results did not support the hypothesis, which predicted that males would have a higher initial first impression then females. In future studies this research could be improved. Recommendations have been made that the sample size would increase to include community schools and rural areas throughout the state, which would increase participants as well as participant characteristics.

A second suggestion is to conduct the study in a natural environment, ensuring the results would be obtained in a real life situation therefore increasing external validity. A recommendation from the ethical consideration of psychological harm is that participants in future studies are informed of impression management techniques which can be used in order to overcome negative impressions. It is important that the study is to be repeated this would allow reliability to be determined; this is a recommendation for future research.


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