Research Methods and Ethical Implications of the Psychology Study

The SPARQ article I choose is titled ‘Plan to achieve’ (Zheng, n.d.), and it summarizes a research article titled “Implementation intentions and successful target pursuit” (Gollwitzer & Brandstätter 1997), which is relevant to the aforementioned article. The issue being discussed is that “many people struggle to achieve objectives” (Zheng, n.d.), and the aim of the research study is to see if putting actions into action helps people achieve their goals more effectively.
The research approach was experimental, with a control and a test. With a final sample size of 86 students, the sample was selected at random from a pool of college students. The students were divided into two group, one group assigned to control condition while the other group to treatment condition (test). In the control group, each student was given an assignment to write on how they spent their Christmas holiday. In the treatment condition group, each student was given a set of instruction for developing strategies and given the same assignment as for the conditioned group. The time of finishing and submitting the assignment was recorded as well as the number of participants who completed the assignment from both groups. An analysis was also conducted on the total number of assignments completed and which group was faster in completing the assignments. All these was recorded and analyzed.

Results and discussion of results.

A small fraction, 32%, of the students in the control group finished the assignment and submitted it on time while more than half of those in the treatment condition group, 72%, submitted their assignment with all completing their assignments earlier than those in the conditioned group. Therefore 68% of participants in the control group did not complete the assignment and only 28 %,( Less than half) of the participants in the treatment group completed the assignment. An analysis of the results thus showed that the strategies that the students in the conditioned group received helped them to attain their goals. The strategies given were Implementation of intentions strategies which are concrete and specific plans for meeting a goal. They consist of setting out a time and place to start a task, visualization of the task at hand and silently repeating individual’s commitment to the task. (Zheng, n.d.)


Implementation intentions proved to be a useful tool in achieving a goal or task, thus it is the solution to the problem being addressed i.e., ‘many people fail to reach their goals’. Therefore, Implementation intention strategies should be used to help individuals attain their goals and tasks. This study proves their effectiveness with a high success rate of 72%.

The research method used was the most appropriate for such a study. The main aim was to prove if Implementation intentions help in goal achievement. The best way to prove this is through an experiment which contains a control whereby the participants in the control are not using implementation intention strategies and a test whereby the participants are utilizing the strategies. By providing a control and treatment condition (test), this helped to come up with an accurate conclusion and analysis of the results. The control was meant to show how the students work to complete an assignment on normal circumstances while the test was meant to show how students would work to attain a goal if they implemented ‘Implementation intention’ strategies. Experimental research methodology, however, has some flaws due to the fact that there is little control of extraneous variables.

Experimental research methodology is the best method to conduct a research. A research aims at proving or disproving a hypothesis, finding solutions, predicting an outcome, and explaining a scenario. Experimentation gives room for establishing cause as well as effect relationship and allows room for control of various variables as well as accurate measurements where need be thus availing a large pool of information. These features of experiment research methodology give it a higher niche over the other research methods such as observation and case study.

Ethical Implications

The study maintained high ethical standards. There was no coercion into participation as it was voluntary for only those willing to participate in the study. Privacy was highly guaranteed. There is no mention of the students’ names, the college they went to or the course they are undertaking. Pictures or identifiers of participants are not available as well as the names of the participants who completed and those who did not complete the assignments are not mentioned. No form of bias on sampling was seen since the sampling method was done by random selection.

The main ethical implication in the study is minor which involved the giving of an unfair advantage to one group i.e., the test group was given developing strategies to complete the assignment. Indeed without this, the study would not have been effectively conducted, however, such strategies should be given to all for the benefit of all individuals. However, with regard to overall ethical standards, they were up to code and effective.


Gollwitzer, P. M., & Brandstätter, V. (1997). Implementation intentions and effective goal pursuit. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73(1), 186-199

Zheng, L. (n.d.). Plan To Succeed. Social Psychological Answers to Real-world Questions. Retrieved from

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