Investigating the Effect of Discomfort on Reaction Time

1447 WordsNov 25, 20116 Pages
Investigating the effect of discomfort on reaction time Purpose and method The purpose of this investigation was to investigate the effect of discomfort on reaction time in humans, measured by dropping a ruler into a subject’s hand. Discomfort was caused by a bowl of ice. Background information Information is carried from the sensory receptors to the central nervous system and back the to effectors by means of nerves. When a number of different processes are involved (a situation informally known as multitasking, research has shown that the brain tends to split to deal the different parts to carry out the tasks. The topic of interest is how having two problems to solve affects the speed of the brain in carrying out these tasks,…show more content…
For five of the subjects discomfort increased reaction times, while for three discomfort decreased reaction times. This seems like slight support for the hypothesis but in reality it is probably statistically insignificant as will be tested next. Because the deviations are so great for the data, it is likely that this difference is not statistically significant. In order to statistically test the significance of this apparent relationship the means and standard deviations for both ‘discomfort present’ and ‘discomfort absent’ data will be calculated. | Distance when discomfort absent (cm) | Distance when discomfort present (cm) | Mean | 197 | 218 | Standard deviation | 95.3 | 89.9 | (All values to 3 significant figures.) This information will then be plotted into a graph to produce two normal distributions. This still suggests that there is no statistical correlation between the two sets of data, as so much of the two curves overlap. In order to formally prove this, however, a third statistic must be calculated, a t-test. The t-test is defined as where This comes to a value of 2.44. I must now also calculate the number of degrees of freedom (the sum of the number of values minus 2) which is 46, and determine an alpha level, or level of risk, which I will set at a standard 0.05. Looking these values up in a table of significances, the result is 2.01. The value was larger than the
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