Uploaded by Jenn Ice

617 Research Critique Ice

617 Research Critique
Jenn Ice
MFT 617
Touro University Worldwide
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In the research article, “On-line ostracism affects children differently from adolescents
and adults,” authored by Abrams, Weick, Thomas, Colbe, & Franklin (2011) they set forth a
research study to see how a variety of age ranges react to ostracism while playing a specific
computer game called Cyberball.
Abrams et al (2011), set forth to see if children were affected by ostracism online more or
less than teens or young adults. Merriam-Webster Dictionary (1995) defines ostracism as,
“exclusion by general consent from common privileges or social acceptance.” The researchers
used another researcher’s definition of ostracism to base their study on. Their hypothesis states,
“This research examines the previously untested questions of whether and how inclusion and
ostracism affect children and adolescents differently from adults.”
The researchers based their study off of a previous study conducted by Williams (2007).
The researchers discussed four components that are affected by ostracism: belonging, selfesteem, control, and meaningful existence. They further stated that when these components are
affected, an “immediate effect should be a more negative mood.” This information is unclear as
to whether it is the authors’ point of view or William’s point of view based on previous research.
By breaking down ostracism into four parts caused confusion on the part of the reader. It
was not understood whether the research was based on these four components as separate entities
or as a whole. There was a lack of clarity in the foundational aspects of the article. The
researchers used multiple resources to support their hypothesis, but there was not one cohesive
theme except the use of the word ostracism.
Additionally, as the researchers continued to discuss ostracism in children using the
research of others, the demographics of the children they were referring to was undefined. The
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researchers brought in discussions of online chat rooms and online games, yet they jumped to
discussions of pre-school children. There was a lack of continuity as to what the authors were
trying to prove.
Furthermore, it was not discussed as to what the demographic of the children these other
studies refer to. The researchers discussed internet social networking sites but then continue on
to discuss that seven-year-olds are now using computers at school. It was apparent that the
researchers selected the quotes to further support their position, however it did not serve to
support but distracted from the purpose of the study.
A better way to have addressed the way ostracism affects students in the beginning of this
article would have been to provide information in chronological order, starting with pre-school
children first and then continuing through early adulthood. Studies supporting ostracizing in a
certain forum regarding one age group per paragraph would have served the authors better. The
need for so much other research did not help to support online ostracizing within this article. The
information only serves to confuse the reader as to what the actual point of the research was.
It appears to this student that the researchers were trying to support ostracism in children
when using the computer, by pulling erroneous support from other researchers to provide validity
to their research.
Reliability & Validity
The researchers, Abrams et al, 2011, explained that validity and reliability are important
to their own research by putting down other researchers by stating, “As well taking substantial
time, these approaches entail significant practical, ethical, confidentiality, and data protection
hurdles.” This statement is made in reference to other studies that had been conducted and how
Abrams et al (2011) wanted to avoid the aforementioned hurdles. The way these researchers
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stated they would avoid invalidity was to use a game that they believed would be “convenient
and engaging for participants” and would allow for them to analyze responses “without referring
to pre-existing relationships.” This statement was contradictory in nature as their own data
collection questions were leading and subjective.
When conducting a research study, researchers need to ensure that there is reliability and
validity. According to SUNY Cortland (n.d), reliability is the consistency of the research and
validity is when the research is measuring what it is supposed to measure.
However, in this specific research study, the population that was selected was a small
“homogenous” segment of a very small population in England. The problem with using a
homogenous segment while trying to prove a broad hypothesis applied to all, is that the research
cannot represent the whole. It was not discussed how the participants were chosen to participate
in this study and the participants were not equal in gender. If the study is to speak to a broad
spectrum of children, there needs to be an equal number of participants to maintain reliability
regarding data collection. A stringent and rigorous vetting process should have been conducted
to ensure that all participants met a specific criteria for this study.
Diversity is important in research. “…without a diverse group of individuals participating in
research, scientists will not know if their results can be applied to all people equally.”
(University of Maryland, 2013)
While the researchers focused on one demographic for this study, due to the lack of
diversity, the outcome of this study can only be applied to white middle class participants from
the south-east section of England, not a larger segment of the population of England, let alone,
elsewhere in the world.
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Furthermore, the researchers discussed how they used a game called Cyberball, to
address the data collection process across the various age groups. The concern from this
student’s point of view is that this game may not have been familiar to all participants. Due to
this oversight, the researchers introduced additional variables that could have been controlled
prior to the data collection process. One way to address this concern would have been to let the
participants play the game prior to the data collection. This would have removed a barrier to the
validity of the data collection.
More problems arose in this study when there was no established control group to use as
a baseline for neutral comparison data. Without a control group, there is no normative data to
compare the obtained data to. The researchers do refer to baseline data later on in their research,
however, they do not discuss what the baseline was or who were in the control group. The
researchers also included gender as a variable and if that was to be included as a result of the
data collected, there needed to be an equal number of participants to ensure reliability.
Reliability was not maintained as instructions were read to the younger group of children,
but no other age group. Another concern regarding reliability and validity was that gender was
taken into consideration and “varied with random assignment.” If the study was to have true
reliability, gender would not have mattered and would not have to be manipulated within the
assigning of groups. This shows bias on the part of the researchers. Additionally, the hypothesis
never addressed gender as a variable. Another concern regarding this study was that
participants were required to use their real names. Because of this, a blind collection of data was
not obtained. If the researchers wanted to show validity in the outcome of their research, they
should have had their participants use non-identifying ways to participate in the game. The
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inclusion of names allowed for the participants to incorporate their own personal biases into the
results of the study.
Data Collected
When the participants were asked to answer questions based on an iconic scale, the
results were open to subjectivity. The researchers should have asked specific standardized
questions such as, “How many times did you receive the ball?” The questions to assess selfesteem, belonginess, control, and meaningful existence were biased in the way that they were
phrased. Using emotive phrases brings out a response which can be compared to using leading
questions. The way the researchers phrased the questions led the participants to possibly appease
the researchers by answering in a way that they felt the researchers wanted them to answer.
The researchers found that mood was affected by not being included when playing the
computer game, however the same results could have been found on the playground at any
school. This study did not display any behavior that was specific to using a computer and being
social online. The mode in which the data collection took place did not support the authors’
Need Threat
The explanation of Need Threat was unclear and confusing. Inputting formulas into your
study does not necessarily validate a study. If anything, in this specific study, it served to confuse
the reader and was nonsensical. The researchers state that a full four-way ANOVA table is
available upon request but continue to discuss the ANOVA table under the presumption that the
reader understands what an ANOVA table is. Again, the clarity of this study is anything but
clear. The researchers discussed that the change in the mood of the participants was not affected
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by certain variables yet it was unclear to this student what those variables were. Additionally, if
the variables are unclear regarding mood, but the entire study is about how being ostracized
affects mood, it is important for the study to be clear and explicit when discussing the variables
that were addressed.
In the study, Abrams et al (2011), did standardize their questions across all populations.
Additionally, the actual idea and intent of the study was purposeful and relevant, however the
way it was executed was ineffective and biased. The information obtained was not specific to
online ostracism.
This study was confusing and spoke over the heads of most. The reason that the
researchers achieved the results they did was because of the vague and subjective questions that
were asked and the lack of controls they used. Also, this student did not understand the
extraneous information that was put in as it only served to distract from the overall continuity of
the article.
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Abrams, D., Weick, M., Thomas, D., Colbe, H., & Franklin, K. M. (2011). On-line ostracism
affects children differently from adolescents and adults. British Journal Of
Developmental Psychology, 29(1), 110-123. Retrieved from EBSCO multi-search
database in TUW library.
Merriam-Webster (1995). The Merriam Webster dictionary. Dallas, TX: Zane Pub.
SUNY Cortland. (n.). Reliability and Validity. Retrieved July 24, 2019, from
University of Maryland. (2013). University of Maryland. Retrieved July 22, 2019, from
Williams, K.D. (2007) Ostracism: Annual Review of Psychology, 58, 425-452. doi:10.1146/