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Will participants perform better in a low or high density room?

Categories: DensityRoom

Aim of the experiment was to see whether performance is affected by the density of a room and done in a laboratory experiment with repeated measures design; there were two conditions, high density room and low density room. Participants were 8 females aged 16 – 18 from Abbot Beyne 6th Form. Results showed that performance is affected by the density of the room, but opposite to what was predicted in the Experimental Hypothesis.

(N=7, 1 tailed test, P=0.05, critical value of T=3, calculated value of T = 3)


The process which has the greatest bearing on the rest of our cognitive processes is our memory.

We store previously learned information and we use that information to identify what is going on. Psychologists have said that high levels of arousal generally lead to decrements on performance in a number of different tasks. Research has shown that when an individual is crowded their arousal goes past its optimum point according to the Yerkes Dodson law.

Further research suggests that arousal levels are high in density conditions, which leads to higher pulse rate and blood pressure (Evans, 1979).

Density is manipulated in two ways; social and spatial. Social density is manipulated by varying group size whilst keeping the area constant, spatial density is manipulated by keeping group size the same but varying the area. The type of density that applies to this experiment is spatial, this is because the group size will remain the same and area size will change.

Aim of experiment is to see the participant’s performance on a memory task with being in the two conditions (high density, low density), this may then affect the participant’s performance which will be measured by a questionnaire based on a 3 minute clip the participants will see.

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The hypothesis is 1-tailed because participant’s performance in the High Density condition compared to the Low Density condition will be low, because in the high density room the participants will be sat closer together which may increase their level of arousal and show a decrease in performance whereas compared to the low density room where they are spread out more and will have more personal space around them.


  • Null Hypothesis – their will be no difference with the memory of the video clip in the low density room compared to the high density and any difference will be due to chance factors.
  • Experimental Hypothesis – Participants will perform better on a memory task about 3 minute DVD clip from “Friends” in low density compared to a high density.



Laboratory experiment was used with a repeated measured design. I.V is whether participants are in a low or a high density room, D.V is the performance score from the participants on a cognitive memory task


Participants were an opportunity sample of 8 females aged 16 – 18 from Abbot Beyne Sixth Form. Participants were allocated to their condition with counterbalancing to overcome order effects.


The questions had been prepared beforehand, by watching both clips and choosing questions that were of similar difficulty.

  • The participants were given standardised instructions asking whether they would like to participate in the experiment.
  • If they didn’t want to participate they were thanked for their time.
  • If they gave consent to participate in the experiment they were then taken to the density room they were counterbalanced in and they were told where to sit.
  • The participants were given the Standardised Instructions.
  • They were shown a 3 minute clip from an episode of “Friends”.
  • After the clip was shown they were given 2 minutes to complete 10 questions.
  • The participants were debriefed (for first condition).
  • On the second part of the experiment then participant’s were in the different density room where they saw another 3 minute clip from a different episode of “Friends” and were given 2 minutes to complete the questionnaire then were debriefed.

Controlled Variables

  • Standardised instructions.
  • Where the participant will be sat will be controlled as they will be allocated to their seat in both rooms.
  • Tone of voice when instructing the Participants was similar.
  • Experiments were done at lunchtimes in the same high and low density room.
  • Displays were covered so the Participants didn’t get distracted and concentrate watching the 3 minute clip.
  • Both clips lasted for 3 minutes and participants were given 2 minutes to complete questionnaire.
  • Double counterbalancing was done so that order effects were reduced (Appendix 3)

Measurement and Analysis

IV measured by the room the participant were in, whether it was the high or low density room. By doing this the D.V is measured – participants performance score on the questionnaires, which are all of the same difficulty. There will be one mark per question depending on whether the answer is correct or not spelt correctly, as long as the participant makes it clear what there answer is. Participants counterbalanced in each condition to reduce order effects.

Questionnaires were used as a measurement technique because it is quick and reliable way of measuring participant’s performance score.

The descriptive statistics used are Dot-plot, Box & Whiskers because it will clearly show the difference in performance from both densities.

Inferential statistics that were used to analyse the data was Wilcoxon’s matched pairs design, as the experiment is a repeated measures design and the data is ordinal. The significance level 0.05 was used to calculate inferential statistics because if the results reject the null hypothesis there is still 1 in 20 chances that the results occurred by chance or random factor.


Participants scores were kept confidential, consent was gained at the start but informed consent was gained after in debrief when the participants were asked if their results could be used in the experiment, which got rid of minor deception.


The results show that the experimental hypothesis was wrong and the null hypothesis is rejected because what was predicted turned out to be wrong, as participants performed better in a high density compared to a low density. The null hypothesis is rejected because there is a difference in both conditions in terms of performance.

Therefore the results show that participants perform better on a memory task in a high density room compared to a low density room.


Strengths and weaknesses of using a laboratory experiment is the manipulation of the IV made cause and effect more certain, increased control and accurate measurement, with their being standardised procedures replication is possible. The weaknesses are lack of ecological validity as the setting wasn’t natural it was controlled. Strengths of using questionnaires is that they are easy to score, it is replicable and it a quick cheap easy way of collecting data. Participants were obtained by opportunity sample because it’s quick and easy. Sample doesn’t have population validity because there were only 8 participants which wasn’t a large amount of participants to generalise results to. Demand characteristics may have occurred because the participants may have figured out what the whole experiment was about because it was a repeated measures design; the same participants were used in both conditions. Counterbalancing was used to overcome order effects and to overcome boredom and individual differences.

Ethical issue that was raised was disturbance to participants, during one part of the experiment other people made noise outside of the classroom even though I had put up a “Do not disturb” sign up, this may have affected participants performance as they may have felt distracted which may have had low face validity on the results.

The results do not relate to the theory described in the introduction because high density didn’t make performance worse than low density. The results do challenge the theory that low density performance will be better than high density, therefore the type of density an individual is in doesn’t really have to affect their performance.

Improvements that could be made to the experiment is to make sure participants will undertake the experiment in a quiet environment as this could affect their performance, another is to use bio dots, by recorded how the colour before the DVD clip, after the DVD clip, after the questionnaire to measure how aroused the participants felt.

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Will participants perform better in a low or high density room?. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

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