Automaticity of Social Behavior Experiment Critique

The article authored by Bargh, Chen, and Burrows discusses the automaticity of certain cognitive behaviors in humans based on the presence of relevant situational features. The article further examines the effect of activation of the elderly stereotype on the behavior of participants whose subsequent behavior would prove the veracity of the hypothesis statement. The experiment conducted three separate experiments on the cognitive behavior regarding eternal situational features and the subsequent reactions generated by the presence of such features. The participants in the experiment were 30 male and female New York University undergraduates; the individuals represented the right age of individuals to elicit a reaction to elderly stereotype features (Bargh, Chen & Burrows, 1996). The use of university students was an essential feature of the experiment since they are relatively younger individuals who are more likely to elicit reactions to the situational features prepackaged. Elderly individuals are less likely to make an external cognitive reaction to old age because they do not face similar preset stereotype features of old age. The experiment took place in two separate but identical categories which included a control group that could act as the standard bearing for the results of the experiments when proving the hypothesis.

According to the discussion section forth in Experiment 2a and 2b, the individuals who partook in the experiment displayed an automatic and nonconscious behavioral reaction to words linked with elderly stereotypes. The article’s coverage on the second experiment also discusses the debriefing process which took place in two different stages to monitor the changes in the participants’ reaction to the activation features they just came into contact with during the experiment process. The researchers also adopted a second experiment to test their hypotheses further by affirming that the individual also partook in the experiment did not have any knowledge contained in the situational features they just witnessed in the experiment room.  The authors’ approach to the experiment was commendably organized and structured in such a manner that the results obtained were free from external influence. The participants did not have any pre-activation activities that could have altered their reactions or any relevant cognitive behaviors. The experiment took up a third persona perspective and participatory role thus limiting the influence on the proceedings during research to a mere observatory and data analyzing functions.

The author’s choice of primary data collection as a means of gathering data from respondents in the experiment creates an authentic and credible foundation for proving the hypothesis. The entire procedure takes a procedural and well-structured pattern that allows the authors to make logical deductions from the final data (Bargh, Chen & Burrows, 1996). However, the research design was flawed in the sense that the individuals who partook in the experiment were not randomly chosen instead they were handpicked individuals who took part in a scrambled-sentence structure experiment. The absence of randomness in picking the participants limited the outcome to a closed circle of people prone to a very limited pool of reaction to the activation features in the stereotypical words. The experiment failed in factoring this aspect into the final result thus limiting the credibility of the final outcomes of the study.

The research design also failed to take into account various external factors that might play a significant role in the reactions of the undergraduate student’s demeanor after the experiments. The students who participated in the experiments could be facing personal problems that affected their functionality as well as their emotional state. The said students might have been experiencing health issues at the time which influenced their mindset and physical state. The factors mentioned above could have affected the behavior of the participants despite not falling under the elderly stereotypes situational features. The experiment and authorship of the article took place in1996 thus giving it a twenty year gap between then and now. The difference in years could represent a considerable margin of error assuming that further research on the matter took place thus bringing into question the validity of the finding. The conclusions made by the author over the causal factors of automaticity are weak based on the fact that the authors dedicated little resource this part of the study. The authors’ conclusion are broadly generalized given that the experiment documented took place roughly twenty years ago . In light of these failings, the experiment’s credibility shines a light of doubt on the conclusions drawn from the findings as discussed in the article. The authors should have improved on the design by including the limitations of the research method used to arrive at their conclusions.

The results emanating from the experiment are valid given that they do not face human bias or any other external factor that could impede their accuracy. The individuals remained in their comfort and privacy during the scrambled-sentence segment of the experiment and the subsequent walk to the elevator is left unaffected barring the recording of their walking speed. The information is presented in a nonbiased manner in the article which enables the reader to formulate their opinions of the views expressed based on the systematic information disseminated by the article. Notably, the experiment conducted in 2a and 2b are only part of a trilogy of experiments that sought to affirm the influence of external factors on the cognitive behavior of human beings (Bargh, Chen & Burrows, 1996). In the context of the entire article, the article serves as one of the three experiments that prove the hypothesis that individuals are susceptible to situational features which directly influences their actions at a subconscious level.

Retrospectively, the authors succeeded in justifying their hypothesis statement through a systematic and uniform experimentation process. The results of the experiment affirm that the environment and other factors play a critical role in the actions and reactions of various individuals without the individual’s knowledge thus the argument for automaticity of the behavior in human beings. The results and discussion sections of the article argue out the findings in a succinct and expert manner thus shedding further insight on the hypothesis. The authors use three different experiments to emphasize truth behind the findings courtesy of a uniform set of results from the experiments. The article also utilizes graphic images in the form of the graph presented in experiment 2a and 2b as a means of representing the findings of the research to the audience. The use of such tools aids in enhancing the comprehension of the results and for comparative purposes of the findings against other findings.

In conclusion, the article is well arranged and furnished to support the hypothesis proposed by the authors at the beginning of their article. The report follows a systematic structure by introducing the subject, presenting the experiments and its findings before making an in-depth and logical conclusion based off the subsequent results. The authors of the article use extensive resources to support them all round working by basis several of their arguments from previous works completed by earlier research on the subject.  The article also uses clear and succinct language that is well proficient in its field of study without straying too far from readily comprehensible content.