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Section 3 - Practice 17

Section 3

Dr Blake:     Come in. Ah yes. Stella is Phil there too? Good. Come on in. OK, so you’re here to discuss your research project. Have you decided what to focus on? You were thinking of something about the causes of mood changes, weren't you?

Stella:     Yes, but the last time we saw you, you suggested we narrowed it down to either the effects of weather or urban environment, so we've decided to focus on the effects of weather

Dr Blake:     Right. That's more manageable. So. your goal is ... Phil?

Phil:     To prove the hypothesis no, to investigate the hypothesis that the weather has an effect on a person's mood.

Dr Blake:     Mmm. Good And what's your thesis? Stella?

Stella:     Well, our thesis is that in general, when the weather's good it has a positive effect on a person's mood and bad weather has a negative effect.

Dr Blake:     Mmm Can you define your terms here - for example, what do you mean by ‘good' and 'bad'?

Phil:     OK. Well, good would be sunny, warm weather and bad would be when it's cold and cloudy or raining

Dr Blake:     And how would you define an effect on a person's mood? What would you be looking to find?

Phil:     An effect on the way a person feels ..

Dr Blake:     Mmm?

Stella:     A change in the way they feel? Erm, like from feeling happy and optimistic, to sad and depressed

Dr Blake:     Right. And what sort of weather variables will you be looking at?

Phil:     Oh. sunshine, temperature, cloudiness, precipitation among others. It'll depend a bit what the weather’s like when we do the survey­.

Dr Blake: Fine We'll talk about that in a minute. But first, what about background reading? I gave you some suggestions did you manage to read any of it ?

Stella:     Yes - we read the Ross Vickers article the one comparing the groups of American Marines training in summer and winter. That's quite relevant to our study, t was interesting because the Marines who were training in the cold winter conditions tried to cheer themselves up by thinking of warm places, but it didn’t really work.

Phil:     Yes, they were trying to force themselves to have a positive mental outlook but in fact it had the opposite effect, and they ended up in a very negative state of mind.

Stella:     And we found some more research by someone who wasn't on the reading list you gave us - George Whitebourne. He compared people living in three countries with very different climatic conditions. Actually he looked at several things, not just the weather, but he found some people's reactions to bad weather were much worse than others and it was linked to how stressed they were generally - the weather on its own didn't have such a significant effect on mood.

Phil:     And we looked at a paper by Haver.

Stella:     Havedon.

Phil:     Yeah. He broke weather up into about fifteen or sixteen categories and did qualitative and quantitative research, he found that humans respond to conditions in the weather with immediate responses, such as fear or amazement, but these responses can also be linked to associations from their earlier life, such as a particular happy or sad event.

Dr Blake:     Did you have a look at Stanfield's work?

Stella:     Yes. It was interesting because the type of questions he asked were similar to what we were planning to use in our survey.

Dr Blake:     Yes?

Stella:     He asked people how they were feeling on days with good and had weather. He found the biggest factor seemed to be the humidity moods were most negative on days with a lot of rainfall. Long periods without sunshine had some effect but nothing like as much.

Dr Blake:     Mmm That could be quite a useful model for your project.

Phil:     Yes. we thought so loo - although. We can't continue our survey for as long as he did - he d d his over a six- month period.

Dr Blake:     Right, well, you've made quite a good start. So, where are you going from here?

Phil:     Well, we’ve already made the questionnaire we're going to use for the survey - it’s quite short, just eight questions. We're aiming to survey twenty people, over a period of three months from October to December.

Stella:     We can't specify the actual dates yet, because it depends on the weather - we want to do the survey on days with a range of different weather conditions. And we’ll just be working on campus, so our data will only be statistically sound for the student population here.

Dr Blake:     That's OK. Have you Thought how you'll determine what will constitute each aspect of weather and how many you’re looking at?

Phil:     We decided on four - the amount of sunshine, cloudiness, temperature and precipitation ... we thought we might use the Internet to get data on weather conditions on the days we do the survey but we haven't found the information we need, so we might have to measure it ourselves. We'll see.

Stella:     Then we've got to analyse the results, and we’ll do that using a spreadsheet, giving numeric values to answers .... and then of course we have to present our findings to the class, and we want to make it quite an interactive session, we want to involve the class in some way in the presentation, maybe by trying to create different climatic conditions in the classroom, but we’re still thinking about it.

Dr Blake:     I see. Well, that sounds as il you're on the right lines. Now, what I'd suggest that you think about...

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