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MCAT Psychology – Experimental Design

Psychologists attempting to measure the influence of social class on color perception asked participants their income and education levels and then asked them to describe a series of color swatches. Each swatch was colored green, blue, or somewhere on a continuum between green and blue. Participants were asked to rate the color as “mostly green”, “mostly blue”, or “an even mix of green and blue”.

Which of the following is true regarding this experiment?

A) The income is an independent variable and the dependent variable is the color rating and the education level.

B) The income and education levels are independent variables and the color rating is the dependent variable.

C) Both education level and income level are dependent variables.

D) The color perception can vary either directly or inversely with social class, but the variation will be either direct for both income and education, or will be inverse for both income and education.



Check out a video explanation of this problem:

The dependent variable in an experiment is what is unknown in advance and is measured. The experimenters do not know how people will rate the colors, so that is the dependent variable. The independent variable is the variable whose effect on the dependent variable is being assessed. Here, the income level and education levels are two independent variables whose effect on color ratings is being assessed. Thus (B) is the correct answer.

A, C: Education level is not a dependent variable.

D: We have no reason to suspect that education level and income level will have the same effect on color perception.

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