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Instructions for Preparing the Correlational Research Report (Assessment 3)
This assessment is a correlational research report investigating the association between stress, coping resources and life satisfaction. Your task is to write a research report in APA (7th ed.) style. Information for writing research reports has been provided in Topic 1 (Orientation and
Preparation) and in the Report Writing and Referencing Guide (a link to this resource is on Interact2). There will also be two online meetings, one on writing research reports and another on this assessment topic. These resources and instructions will help you to understand the requirements of this assessment. We recommend that you familiarise yourself with the requirements of research report writing before reading these instructions.
This report will be based on data that will be provided to you from paper surveys distributed to members of the general public in Melbourne, Australia and surrounding districts. Participants were given a questionnaire and a self-addressed envelope to return the survey upon completion. All questionnaires were anonymous, and participants provided informed consent by returning the survey. The sample (N = 60) consisted of 26 males and 34 females. Ethics approval was granted by the Charles Sturt University Human Research Ethics Committee. While you are not required to actually collect the data for this research project (and therefore you do not need to seek ethics approval), you should be aware of the ethical procedures that any psychological research project should undertake (please see Bernstein et al., 2018, pp. 64–66).
A step-by-step guide to completing this assessment
1. You are provided with all the information and data to complete this assessment. Therefore, the first step is to familiarise yourself with the topic. The background information section below provides an initial overview of the topic and some references to get you started in your reading. This information will help you to write the introduction section of the report. Include the hypotheses at the end of the introduction section; these are provided below.
• Coping resources will be negatively correlated with perceived stress.
• Coping resources will be positively correlated with life satisfaction.
• Perceived stress will be negatively correlated with life satisfaction.
2. When researching the topic, do not use web pages, blogs or other low-quality sources unless specifically recommended by your subject coordinator. All sources should be cited in-text and in the reference list (any time an idea is cited that is not your own, you must credit the author/s). Only works cited in the body of the report should be in the reference
list (not everything you read to comprehend the topic).
3. Once you have written the introduction, start the method section. Here you report the mean and standard deviation for the participants age in the Participants sub-section. You will need to calculate the mean and standard deviation for age by hand. Access the data file (there is a link on Interact2); all the participant data is available here. To assist in the calculations, please refer to Bernstein et al. (2018, pp. 59-63), the Weiten (2017) reading from Topic 2 and you will also be shown how to calculate these in the online meeting.
4. These calculations must be done step by step, by hand, using a calculator (not a computer). The working sheets showing your calculations must be provided as a separate file to the report. These can be submitted as scanned pdf files or pictures of your calculations embedded in a word document (there are no specific formatting requirements). You are not permitted to use any statistical package for the data analysis. It is important to do this calculation as it assists in your understanding.
5. Next, describe the scales that were used in the Materials subsection (there are descriptions of these below). In the Procedure subsection, explain how the study was administered (details are above).
6. Report your statistics in the Results section. Use Table 1 for reporting the means and standard deviations for the three variables. These are, stress (M = 26.38, SD = 6.46, range = 12-43), coping resources (M = 24.70, SD = 4.38, range 13-31.75) and life satisfaction (M = 22.78, SD = 7.60, range 5-35). Ensure you ‘introduce’ the table first. That is, comment on what the values signify, but do not merely repeat in text what appears in the table.
7. Table 2 is for your correlations. The correlations and respective p-values are below.
• Coping resources and perceived stress, r = -.607, p .001.
• Perceived stress and life satisfaction, r =-.478, p .001.
• Coping resources and life satisfaction, r=.837, p .001.
8. Again, introduce the table first. Here you would report on the direction (is it a positive or negative relationship?), and magnitude (whether the correlation is strong, moderate, or weak, see the box below) of the relationship. As this is your assignment, not a journal manuscript, do NOT include your tables as an appendix; rather, tables should be in the Results section directly below where they are introduced.
9. You may wish to calculate the shared variance between the variables; the Topic 2 tutorial explains how to do this.
Correlations identify the magnitude, direction and statistical significance of the relationship between two variables. The following conventions, based on Sattler’s
(2008) recommendations will assist you in describing the strength of the association: .30 small/weak, .31 –49 medium/moderate, .50 large/strong.
10. Report the significance of the correlation (p-value); there is additional information on statistical significance below. If you have difficulty interpreting the significance level, please refer to Bernstein et al. (2018, p. 62). Statistical significance is also covered in Topic 2, and we will also discuss it during the online meeting.
11. You then relate these findings back to your hypotheses and specify whether your hypotheses were supported or not. These statistics are what test your predictions.
12. Finally, your discussion section should include whether your hypotheses were supported, where your results sit within the wider literature (that you would have reviewed in the introduction) and what the findings mean in a practical sense. A paragraph on the limitations and future directions are also appropriate, ending with a conclusion.
13. Finally, include a copy of each questionnaire as an appendix. Each appendix (there should be three, the stress scale, composite coping resources measure and life satisfaction) should start on a new page, identified using capital letters (i.e., Appendix A), with a brief descriptive title.
14. Submit your hand calculations as a separate file, do not append these to the report.
The Survey
The survey consisted of measures of stress, coping resources, and life satisfaction and standard demographic questions (i.e., sex, age, marital status, and education).
Coping Resources
Coping resources was assessed using a combined measure of four scales (detailed below) consistent with the approach used by Taylor and Stanton (2007). For each scale (i.e., optimism, mastery, self-esteem and social support), scores were combined to create an overall measure of coping resources.
Optimism. The 10-item optimism subscale from the revised Life Orientation Test (Scheier et al., 1994) assesses expectancies for positive versus negative outcomes. Responses range from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). The scale has four filler items (these are not scored and distract participants from the real purpose of the scale) and three reverse-scored items. For consistency with the other coping resources measures, all items were scored on a 1-4 scale.
Mastery. The 7-item Sense of Mastery Scale (Pearlin & Schooler, 1978) assesses the extent to which a person feels mastery over life outcomes. Responses are on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 4 (strongly agree). There are five reverse-scored items.
Self-esteem. The 10-item Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965) assesses selfesteem with participants responding on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 4 (strongly agree). Of the ten scored items, five are reverse scored.
Social support. The 8-item Perceived Available Support Subscale from the Berline Social Support Scale (Schwarzer & Schulz, 2003) assesses both a person’s perception of emotional and instrumental social support. Responses range from (strongly disagree) to 4 (strongly agree).
Life Satisfaction
The 5-item Life Satisfaction Scale (Diener et al., 1985) assess the extent to which a person generally feels satisfied with life. Responses range from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree).
Perceived stress
The 10-item Perceived Stress Scale (Cohen et al., 1983; Roberti et al., 2006) assesses the extent to which a person feels aspects of their life are uncontrollable, unpredictable and overloading. Responses range from 1 (never) to 5 (very often), four items are reverse-scored.
Some Background to the Research
Life satisfaction is a person’s global evaluation of their life (Pavot et al., 1991) and is negatively associated with perceived stress which is defined as an imbalance between the perception of demands and resources (Alleyne et al., 2010). Coping is also correlated with stress, and we use coping resources in managing stress (Matheny et al., 2002). Given these associations, understanding the relationship between coping resources, stress and life satisfaction would seem helpful in promoting quality of life.
While life satisfaction is the focus of proliferate research, the relationship of this construct to stress and coping is less clear. There are inconsistent findings in the literature around this, such as Alleyne et al. (2010) who found that stress was a major predictor of student life satisfaction.
However, Hamarat et al.(2001) found that a combined measure of stress and coping was a better predictor than either measure alone.
One reason for these discrepancies is that many studies are conducted with specific samples (e.g., university cohorts) which by their nature are typically younger (see Alleyne et al., 2010; Matheny et al., 2002; Matheny et al., 2008, for examples), few researchers consider the broader community and fewer still an Australian context. Another reason is that studies use different measures of stress, coping resources and life satisfaction making comparisons of findings difficult (see Brougham et al., 2009; Matheny et al., 2002, for examples). Given these limitations, it is important to examine these variables in a broader context to establish if there is a universal connection between these constructs.
You may wish to consult the references used in this background to get you started in your
reading (see the reference list for full citations). In addition, Taylor and Stanton’s (2007) article is a review of coping resources that aid in managing stress. The article also contains definitions of stress and coping. While not all parts of the article are relevant to the report topic, it provides a good overview of stress and coping resources and how coping resources is defined. Hamarat et al.(2001) is a study on life satisfaction, stress and coping resources examined globally and by age.
Some additional information
Internal Consistency Reliability
Internal consistency reliability refers to how consistently a scale measures the construct it purports to measure. In most studies, Cronbach’s alpha is used to assess this reliability and reported when describing the scale. This statistic provides important information on the scales psychometric properties. While not mandatory, you may wish to include internal consistency reliability in your Methods section, and Alleyne et al. (2010) provides a good example of how to do this. Use the following conventions to interpret previously reported Cronbach alphas: .59 = very low, .60 to .69 low, .70 to moderate, .80 to .89 moderately high, and .90 high (Murphy & Davidshofer, 2001).
Statistical Significance
In research, our data is drawn from a sample of the population and therefore only approximates that population. We, therefore, aim to draw a conclusion about the population based on our sample. That is, we want to make generalisations from our sample to the population.
A correlation, by virtue of the mathematics used, must lie between -1 and +1. Supposing we obtain a correlation of .5 from our sample, how do we know this is a true correlation of the population? Our correlation could simply be a chance result as there is always some degree of inaccuracy in sampling; the true relationship could be zero. Alternatively, our .5 may indeed be a true relationship that occurs in the population. The question is, how do we know? Statistical significance helps us to make decisions that help us to know.
Statistical significance relates to the probability (p) that the obtained correlation deviates from zero simply by chance. This p-value (always between 0 and 1) relates to the sample size (the greater the sample size, the less the error). If we set statistical significance at .05 (a common but arbitrary level) and our obtained correlation is significant at this level (i.e., = .05), this tells us that there is a .05 chance (5 in 100) of getting a correlation this high simply by chance. Because .05 is very low, we conclude that this result occurs in the population. We may be wrong, but our chance of being wrong is 5%, written as p .05 or in other words, in more than 95% of times you will likely find a relationship between those two variables.
Note. For this report, if you cannot decide on statistical significance, you can still pass the assignment, but reporting statistical significance adds precision to your results. In later psychology subjects, it will be essential to understand and report on the significance, and you will need to do so when relevant.
It is not mandatory to submit a Turnitin similarity report with your paper. However, your reports may be checked for plagiarism, and if you have not appropriately cited the relevant sources, you can be reported for plagiarism and penalised (see the relevant sections in your subject outline on plagiarism). Therefore, you may choose to check your similarity report. If you are not familiar with Turnitin, there is additional information on Interact2 (see Turnitin in the lefthand menu).
Marking Rubric
The marking rubric is available on Interact2 and is the criteria that your assignment is marked to; so it is important to be familiar with the standards on this document. You should check that your assessment fits the standards described in the marking rubric before submitting.
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Brougham, R. R., Zail, C. M., Mendoza, C. M., & Miller, J. R. (2009). Stress, sex differences, and coping strategies among college students. Current Psychology, 28(2), 85-97.
Cohen, S., Kamarck, T., & Mermelstein, R. (1983). A global measure of perceived stress. Journal of
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Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The Satisfaction with Life Scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49(1), 71-75.
Hamarat, E., Thompson, D., Zabrucky, K. M., Steele, D., & Matheny, K. B. (2001). Perceived stress and coping resource availability as predictors of life satisfaction in young, middle-aged, and older adults. Experimental Aging Research, 27, 181-196.
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