Study Critique – A Bumpy Train Ride: A Field Experiment on Insult, Honor, and Emotional Reactions

Study Critique

Researchers Hans Izjerman, Marcello Gallucci and Wilko W. van Dijk undertook a unique study in “A Bumpy Train Ride: A Field Experiment on Insult, Honor, and Emotional Reactions” focusing solely on honor norms. The purpose of conducting this research was to examine whether correlation existed between the strict observance of honor norms and an individual’s subsequent reaction to an insult. Participating in the study were 42 male subjects from the Netherlands identified as train travelers. Half of this group would be exposed to a situation where they would come into contact with a confederate making derogatory remarks. It was soon established that individuals who were staunch about their honor norm were irked more, less submissive and joyful in comparison to their counterparts. Furthermore, the observation made was that individuals who adhered firmly to honor norms had a heightened level of perception to the stimuli in comparison to participants who did not observe this social construct (“Bumpy Train Ride: A Field Experiment on Insult, Honor, and Emotional Reactions,” 02). The inference made revealed that there was a direct correspondence between being an adherent of honor norms and expressing emotional reactions to this effect.

The methodology section in this particular study raises some fundamental ethical questions. It is impressive that all participants took part in their volition and were therefore not coerced to take part. The investigation then continues to introduce an experimental stimulus in the form of confederate hurling insults on half of the group. A rule of thumb, whenever a review is to be carried out is that all participants have to be informed about the nature of the research they are taking part (Young, 2017, p. 70). In their quest to obtain authentic reactions from subjects, the researchers did not, at any point, provide them with any information about the conditions that they would be put under. However, things would have been different in the United States where strict adherence to the American Psychological Association (APA) guidelines would be expected. The debriefing in the United States would involve an in-depth description of the study, what it entails and whether participants would be comfortable being put in a situation which had the potential of being emotionally abrasive. This would, therefore, avoid a case where an individual feels violated by a study that was coarse to their emotional vulnerabilities.

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