PSYC Life Span Development Psychology



Empirical Article Assignment 1

This assignment will be submitted to Turnitin®.Instructions

*For this assignment, you can download/ copy and paste the reading guide and just type your answers in next to the questions as you go along. 

Reading guide for a Scientific Article:

Article: Hamlin, J. K., Wynn, K., & Bloom, P. (2007). Social evaluation by preverbal infants. Nature, 450(7169), 557-559.

  • Read the title of the article and the abstract. The title lets us know what constructs the researchers are focusing on. The abstract gives you a big picture overview of the whole article. 


  1. In the introduction, the authors review previous literature. Notice that the authors mention Violation of Expectation paradigm right at the beginning. Their hypothesis comes out of this theory, so it is important you understand it. Question 1: In your own words, define Violation of Expectation paradigm.
  2. Continue reading the introduction.  In the introduction, the authors discuss social behavior evaluation compared to perceptual preferences. It is critical that you understand how the researchers distinguish between these two.Question 2: In your own words, explain how the researchers attempted to distinguish whether the infants were perceiving social behavior. 
  3. Spend some time making absolutely sure you understand the purpose of the current study and the researchers’ hypothesis. Question 3: Pretend that you are talking to your parents or adolescent child on the phone, and you want to tell them about this very interesting study you are reading about… restate the hypothesis to them in your words.


  1. Read the Participants and Procedures subsection. Notice that in this journal, the Methods are described at the end, rather than between the introduction and results sections. If you need further details to understand their methodology, videos of their study can be found on YouTube. Question 4: Are you convinced by the methodology used here? If not, what would you change about their methods to appropriately test their hypotheses?


  1. Read the results section and do your best to understand it. Take your time with this. Recall the researchers’ hypothesis. Question 5: In your own words, what did the researchers find? Do the results support their hypothesis?
  2. Carefully examine Figure 2. If there is an Asterix (*) between two bars, it means the difference between those bars is significant (highly unlikely that the difference would be due to sampling error or chance). Question 6: Describe the meaning of the figure in your own words. 


  1.   Read the Discussion section to see the scientists’ discussion of whether their data supported their hypothesis and what the implication of their findings are. This section is really the “so what” section. Question 7: So, what are the implications of the researchers’ results? What are some specific ways that we, as a society, can incorporate these findings.  
  2. One of the ways in which we can become critical thinkers and consumers of research is by reading research articles and then thinking of further research questions based on the article we just read. Hopefully reading this study has triggered questions for you about the origins of social and moral understanding. Question 9: What ideas do you have about future directions for this work? In other words, discuss a research question that you have based on this work and design a future study that would address the question.
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