General introduction and background to the assessment tasks for HPS307/791
HPS307/791 has four main aims:
Understand the major theoretical approaches used to explain consistent patterns in thoughts, feelings, and behaviour.
These theories underlie the major approaches used to treat clients in clinical and health- related contexts, and are also relevant to understanding behaviour in other settings such as organisations.
Be able to apply these theories to solve realistic problems.
It is important that you have some understanding of how to apply theoretical frameworks in a way that allows you to gain insights into behaviours you may want to alter.
Develop your analytical and communication skills.
Research has shown that both employers and recent graduates rate graduate skills (especially communication skills) as one of the most important factors affecting employability. Also, many of you want to move into a fourth year and then postgraduate programs. Analytical and communication skills (especially written) are very important to success in these courses, which have a substantial thesis component.
Understand how personality inventories are used to assess personality.
Like almost all constructs that we study in psychology, personality is a not a physical ‘thing’ that can be objectively measured. Hence, in order to try to measure something we cannot see, we create scales that are tested on big populations, and feel reasonably confident that they are measuring what we think they are measuring. Understanding the psychometric properties of different scales, as well as their strengths and weaknesses, is an important part of being able to decide what scale, if any, you use in applied practice or a research design.
The readings and assignment tasks are designed to not only improve your application, analytical, and writing skills in the context of personality theory, but also your interest in the subject matter. We hope that this will help you perform well on the assessment tasks, but more importantly, that they will teach you important skills that will help you in your next challenge, regardless of whether you enter theworkforce or continue to do further study.
Overview of Assessment Tasks
Assessment 1: Lab report (45% of overall grade)
Assessment 2: Personality Profile report (25% of overall grade)
Lab Report—Due Friday 17th December, 8pm
Your task is to write up a study that investigates the stability of personality and problematic smartphone use, and the relationship between the two. HPS307 students will consider one personality factor and problematic smartphone use, while HPS791 students will consider two personality factors and problematic smartphone use. To orient you to this task, an overview of the rationale underlying the study is provided below.
Note: The survey will have items that measure personality, well-being, COVID19 behaviours, problematic smartphone use, and motivation. We will look at the COVID19 data in seminars and consider whether personality can predict how people behave in a truly novel situation (i.e. a pandemic). The smartphone data will form the basis of the lab report. The T3 cohort is typically quite small, so we asked T2 students to complete the additional items to provide a robust sample size for the T3 cohort. Finally, the students of HPS121 in T2 also completed this survey and used the personality and motivation data for their lab report. We have combined the data collection for these two units so that both have a really robust sample size to work with. In the case of HPS307/791, we are conducting genuine, publishable research – nothing here is contrived for assessment purposes only. You’ll be engaged with a real research project, in real time, with real data that will contribute to the personality literature. Exciting!
1 The research topic
Over the past decade, a completely novel individual and social issue has been emerging – problematic smartphone use (also occasionally referred to as smartphone addiction, internet addiction, screen addiction). Social media and easy access to the online world has become a ubiquitous and normal part of life, however our consumption of internet-based media is far from what might have been considered normal in the past.
Excessive screen use can become problematic for some people. Addiction-like behaviours can emerge, such as cravings, tolerance, and withdrawal. Addiction to screens has been associated with decreases in productivity, social functioning, positive affect, and well-being. In the case of adolescents, the potential developmental impacts of screen addiction (for example, neurological development, social skills development, intimate relationship formation etc.) will not be known for many years to come.
The current conditions of the COVID19 pandemic may also impact smartphone use behaviour. With many cities experiencing lockdowns in 2020 and the ongoing threat of outbreaks, people have been spending much more time at home, and much less time socialising in person. These conditions may potentially exacerbate problematic smartphone use, but perhaps not to the same extent for everyone. There are known individual differences in the extent to which people are prone to problematic smartphone use, and thus some people may be more prone to increased problematic smartphone use under the current conditions. Furthermore, even our personality traits may be impacted by the conditions of the COVID19 pandemic, since research suggests that major life events can impact something as stable as personality. Bringing these two together, it may be the case that the link between personality factors and problematic smartphone use may become stronger or weaker under the conditions of the COVID19 pandemic.
In order to look more closely at this issue, we will investigate whether the relationship between personality and problematic smart phone use remains statistically unchanged under these conditions of prolonged stress. Specifically, HPS307 students will look at one Big 5 personality factor and problematic smart phone use. HPS791 students will look at any two Big 5 personality factors and problematic smart phone use. You will learn about the trait perspective in week 2, so we will not go into any detail about the personality factors here.
Your hypotheses should follow this format:
Hypothesis 1 will be based on problematic smart phone use. You will need to think about whether you expect the mean score for problematic smartphone use to be different under COVID19 conditions (2020) compared to non-COVID19 conditions (2019).
In the same vein as H1, Hypothesis 2 will be based on your prediction of whether the mean score for your chosen Big 5 personality factor will have remained the same or changed between 2019 and 2020, given the changed conditions. You will need to apply your understanding of what your chosen factor is, how stable it is likely to be, and the direction of the change (if you hypothesise there will be one). HPS791 students will have one hypothesis for each of the two personality factors they choose.
Hypothesis 3 will be based on the correlation between your chosen personality factor and problematic smartphone use. This is the most challenging hypothesis, and will require you to think critically about both personality and problematic smartphone use. You will hypothesise about whether the relationship between your chosen personality factor and problematic smartphone use may have changed under COVID19 pandemic conditions. If you predict a change, you will need to state the direction (i.e. stronger or weaker now, compared to then).
Deciding on your hypotheses
The first step is to develop an understanding of what the personality factors are, what they ‘look like’. Which personality factor you choose for your research report is up to you, but you will need to think about how each factor might be expressed or suppressed under COVID19 conditions. For example, how might someone high in extraversion experience the pandemic? How might someone who is high in conscientiousness behave during a health crisis? This is an application of critical thinking to the trait x environment interaction.
In order to make a prediction for hypothesis 3, you will need to think through hypotheses 1 and 2 carefully. Once you determine what you think will happen with your personality factor and problematic smartphone use, you can think through what this means for their relationship with one another.
We will spend time talking through these ideas in our seminars, but you will also need to read relevant journal articles and apply your understanding of the unit content to these questions.
The papers we have supplied you with give you a grounding in what the variables are, and the most current research on their relationship to each other. You must include these papers in your lab report, as well as any other articles you deem appropriate. You will need to do some research yourself in addition to these publications. There is no minimum number of references aside from those that we have supplied. We would prefer you to have fewer articles that are well-chosen, relevant and reliable than lots of articles that are not high quality or are poorly-used in your report. It is quality over quantity that matters.
1.2 Readings (AT1):
These papers are available for you to download in the AT1 folder in Cloud Deakin. We will begin working on the Lab Report in our Week 2 seminar, but you are encouraged to start thinking and reading as early as possible.
HPS307 and HPS791
Horwood, S., & Anglim, J. (2018). Personality and problematic smartphone use: A facet-level analysis using the Five Factor Model and HEXACO frameworks. Computers in Human Behavior, 85, 349-359. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2018.04.013
Bleidorn, W., Hopwood, C. J., & Lucas, R. E. (2018). Life events and personality trait
change. Journal of Personality, 86, 83-96. https://doi.org/10.1111/jopy.12286
1.3 Survey Information—AT1 and AT2
We will use the following questionnaires in our survey. Not all of them are relevant to the assessment tasks, but the notation beside each reference indicates whether they are relevant to AT1 or AT2 (or both). You are welcome to look up the associated papers – the references are at the end of this document. The below information will be enough for you to write up your materials section for AT1. You can copy and paste but you may also like to finesse them a little and, where appropriate, format it in APA 7th style. Remember to only include the scales we used for AT1 data in your materials section.
International Personality Items Pool (IPIP) NEO (Goldberg et al., 2006; AT1 & AT2)
The IPIP NEO is a 50-item self-report inventory that provides a measure of the Big 5 factors: Neuroticism, Extraversion, Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, and Openness to experience. Items are answered on a 5-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 = ‘Very inaccurate’ to 5 = ‘Very accurate’.
This scale is a 42-item self-report measure of psychological well-being across six dimensions: Autonomy, Environmental Mastery, Personal Growth, Positive Relations, Purpose in Life, and Self-acceptance. Items are scored on a 6-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 = ‘Strongly disagree’ to 6 = ‘Strongly agree’.
iii. Satisfaction with Life Scale (Diener, 2009)
This 5-item self-report scale assesses an individual’s overall sense of satisfaction and contentedness with their life. It provides a global measure of subjective well-being. The five items are scored on a 7-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 = ‘Strongly disagree’ to 7 = ‘Strongly agree’.
Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988)
The PANAS is a 20-item self-report scale where respondents rate their feelings and emotions over the past week. Items are scored on a 5-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 = ‘Very slightly or not at all’ to 5 = ‘Extremely’.
iii. Adolescent Pre-occupation with Screens Scale, modified (Hunter et al., 2017; AT1)
This 21-item self-report scale assesses potential preoccupation with screen use across a broad range of screens and screen-based activities in non-clinical settings. The items are scored on a 5-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 = ‘Never’ to 5 = ‘Always’. The scale has been modified for adult use by changing the word ‘parents’ to ‘family and friends’. The word ‘screens’ has been replaced with a more specific criteria, ‘smartphone’.
This 100-item inventory measures the six personality factors of Honesty-humility, Emotionality, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Openness. It also measures the facets that underpin each factor. Items are answered on a 5-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 = ‘Strongly Disagree’ to 5 = ‘Strongly Agree’.
1.4 Assessment criteria
The assessment criteria will be posted in the assignment folder of Cloud Deakin. The criteria are generic lab report criteria, designed to ensure that the guidance you get in all units is the same. Broadly, your Lab Report will be evaluated according to:
How well your Abstract provides a concise but meaningful description of the study.
How well you explain the importance of the study, and how it addresses a problem
or gap in the literature.
How well your Method section describes what was done to answer the research
How well your Results section describes how the data were prepared and analysed,
as well as what was found.
How well you interpret and synthesise the results in your Discussion, factoring in the
aims, hypotheses, and broader literature.
Your overall writing style (i.e. scientific writing).
1.5 Word count
HPS307 and HPS791
Your Lab Report should be approximately 2,000 words. You can be over or under by 10%, but do try to stick to 2,000 as much as possible. The title page, Abstract, tables (including table headings) and reference list are not included in your word count. In-text citations are counted. Your Abstract should be around 200 words.
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