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The Truman Show

Discussion in 'Social sciences' started by vickiedwards, Jul 9, 2010.

  1. Hi - to fill the summer term i have been teaching research methods with my students. I want to show them the Truman Show - getting them to think about experimental methods and ethical issues. Has anyone done this before or does anyone have any questions i could get the students to think about whilst watching the film.
    Many Thanks

  2. I assume that this is for A2 research methods. If so, I'd never thought of using the Truman show. What a great idea! Sooo, ideas for questions?
    Ok, I teach the A spec, so things I would ask them about the film are:
    1. Pratical issues about the study
    2. Ethical issues about the study
    3. Reliability & validity
    4. Debates (for a bit of synpotcity)
    1. Practical issues to ask about:
    What method it is and why? The design of the study. Hypothesis. Variables? Why you think the researcher (produce) chose to do it that way). If they agree that this is the best method (if not, why and what alternative?). Evaluation of the method for this setting. Demand characteristics or researcher bias (picked up 'cues from the so-called friends and family as the film progressed)?
    2. Ethical issues to ask about:
    The BPS guidelines met or not met. E.g. Consent? Withdrawal? Observation guidelines-privacy? Harm? Confidentiality? Deception? How the producer did or didn't deal with them or justified what he did? E.g. He didn't get informed consent from Truman because it was done from the minute he was born (unable to give consent as too young). However, he probably got consent from his mother/carers at his birth (his mother, I suspect as the film showed a flashback scene of the birth). privacy-he was filmed in the bathroom-not a place where you would expect to be observed but he would probably argue that the ends justify the means-point of the programme is to watch Truman 24-7 and can't do that if he isn't followed everywhere).
    Is it right to do experiments/research like this on children in these circumstances? Why or why not? I'd then finish with a role play-your students are the BPS/APA American committee and have to approve/reject this study (a psychologist wants to replicate it as part of the area of Media Psychology on unit 4). What would their decision or recommendations be? Reasons?
    3. Reliability & validity- Would this type of research be reliable or valid? E.g. At the end, Truman twigged what was going on, how would this affect the validity of the study? I would say for instance that this is a question of internal validity (if it's a set up, how do you know it was the context that he was reacting to? The one created by the producer-he may have seen through it from the day he was old enough to think and talk and decided to behave accordingly-do the students believe this and why?) Reliability-would other producers or researchers get the same results if they did this with someone else? Why or why not? How could they check this?
    4. Debates:
    Bias. It was done in America with a 'typical', White American male. Would the results be the same for people in different backgrounds or countries? Why was Truman chosen (white? culture bias in research)? Free-will/determinism-how much of his behaviour was done to this created environment and how much of it was inherited from his natural (not screen) parents?

    Hope this all makes sense and helps!
  3. What a brilliant idea!
  4. Thanks - your suggestions are great :) i had thought about the same ideas - i just couldn't seem to put in down on paper. Thanks again
  5. This is a excellent idea - thank you!
  6. I use it for Sociology too - Postmodernism, hyperreality

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