Another disadvantage is that the 20 answers to the question given (Who am I?) can yield a large amount of information that can be misinterpreted. An independent groups design was used and its advantages were that order effects, such as learning, fatigue or boredom did not influence a second condition, since the subjects only participated in one condition. An independent groups design is relatively easy and quick to set up. Demand characteristics were less of a problem as the subject only participated in one condition, and so were less likely to guess the aim of the study and act differently.
The disadvantages of using an independent groups design were that the subject variables differed, which could have become confounding variables unless controlled for. More subjects were necessary because each subject was used only once so was therefore less economical than a repeated measures design. Form any ethical considerations, the participants were debriefed after they had taken part and made aware of the aim (see appendix 6). They were also informed that they had the right to withdraw in the standardised instructions (see appendix 6) and that their results would remain confidential. Letters were sent home to the seven year olds parents to inform them of the experiment (see appendix 1) and if they did not want their child to participate then they should return the attached slip with the letter.
Taking into account that half the subjects were very young (seven years old) a stress free environment was created to avoid such stress and discomfort. That is, the experiment was done in the normal classroom environment with their peers and teacher nearby to prevent them from feeling isolated and anxious. The independent variable (IV) was age (seven-year-olds and seventeen-year-olds). The dependent variable (DV) was the self-concept, which was measured by Kuhns five categories that were social groups, ideological beliefs, interests, ambitions and self-evaluation.
Participants An A-level student conducted the research. The target population was all the schools available in Blackburn and those that were nearest were used. Only children aged seven years old and seventeen years old were selected. The sampling type was opportunity, which involved selecting those subjects that were available at the time. It was a quick, convenient and economical method of sampling. However, opportunity sampling sometimes gives unrepresentative data and is often biased on the part of the researcher who may choose subjects who will be helpful.
There were two conditions: a young age group (seven-year-olds) and an older age group (seventeen-year-olds). Ten subjects were assigned to each condition. Apparatus Response sheet (see appendix 2) Consent form prior to the experiment (see appendix 1) Standardised Procedure The research was undertaken in a primary school in Blackburn and a sixthform in Blackburn. A response sheet (see appendix 2) was handed out to the subjects where they had to write down twenty answers to the question who am I? After they had completed the questionnaire the subjects handed back the response sheets. Thereafter the researcher debriefed the subjects: I was conducting a study looking at how the self concept varies with age, which was compared between seven and seventeen year olds. Thank you for your participation.