Month: February 2017

Part 9: Inspiration for More

In terms of updates on my study, I’m still collecting data for my study and have about 3 weeks left (cross fingers that I can get enough participants). Also, research assistants and I have started the coding I have mentioned in my last post, and although there were discrepancies in the beginning, we are now working at a good pace. (Kudos to them too! It’s not easy working with a brand new coding system.)



Santa Barbara was definitely one of the nicer places I visited.

Although nothing too eventful is happening with my study here in Pittsburgh (although I am very happy that coding is working out), I have been busy with my research in other ways. Recently, I have been on interviews for graduate school, and during my trips, I’ve had the awesome opportunity to meet many intelligent and insightful psychologists. I not only learned about the cool work they’re doing but also received feedback on my current study. Often they would ask really hard questions of things I haven’t thought of, such as whether participants were considering my raffle task as a sacrifice, meaning do they perceive a cost in the task. In my study, I never directly ask participants whether they are taking a cost because I took that fact for granted, even though I really shouldn’t have. Although I do ask questions like “I did not want to do the task,” which would imply that there was some cost, I really should have included an explicit question about whether there was a cost in giving more tickets to themselves than their partners. Despite the mistakes I’ve made, I now at least know what I should do moving forward, and if anything, this actually motivated me to make better studies.

I have received positive feedback to build off of as well. A few faculty members have suggested future study ideas for what I could do in graduate school. For example, what if I had participants choose a kind of motivation to follow and then see what the outcomes are, instead of measuring motivation at the end? Other than touch, what other activities could promote intrinsic motivation? The ideas I discussed with faculty members were super interesting to me, and for the first time in a while, I felt really inspired to do research. (Not to say that I’m not excited about my research now, but there definitely have been slow days.)

When I first heard that I had to go through the interview process, I was terrified. Spending most of the day being interviewed by at least four faculty members sounded super intimidating, and I was sure I would be too nervous to hold a conversation. Much to my happy surprise, turns out faculty members are very chill and fun to talk to. Sure, they were evaluating me and pretty much determining my academic future, but I had fun discussing research ideas and future work I could do. This was the first time I got the chance to discuss ideas with so many psychologists, and this makes me even more excited at the prospect of pursuing research as a career and having the chance to collaborate with some great thinkers!

Data Analysis: Remembering the Visual

As soon as I press the “play” button on the voice recorder, I begin to type as fast as I can to transcribe the first few words of the interview. I press pause as soon as the recording gets ahead of me, and then repeat the process. Transcription is a bit tedious and there are moments when my fingers stop typing, because I begin to really listen to what is being said. Then, I have to rewind a few seconds back in the recording and type, again.

Having allocated a few hours on the weekends to transcribe, I finally had the opportunity to lay the transcriptions out on my desk and read (multiple times) the words of my interviewees. Multiple readings alone are insufficient to code and analyze. Time also plays an important role in coding the information that I have. There are moments in between classes that I have to pull out my notebook and jot down a note to go back to when I’m looking at the interviews.

Staring at the transcriptions, I almost forgot that I have other senses. One of my professors reminded me that I have eyes. Since I only have audio recordings of the interviews, I made sure to take time after the interviews (not in front of the interviewee) to take notes of body language, the environment of the interview, facial expressions, etc. that seemed significant and accompanied their words. I find more connections when I don’t get completely absorbed in the words themselves. After all, these words are products of individuals who express themselves in a myriad of ways.

One of my goals in this research project is to encompass as much of the individual voice in the analysis as possible without sacrificing the quality of the analysis. Behind each word, each sentence, is a human being who is sharing various moments of their lives.

As I read through the transcriptions, and often re-listen to the recordings, I remember the facial expressions, the pauses, the shifting in their chairs, etc. These are elements that allow me to interpret their words beyond just the words and I hope I can convey that in my writing.