In my last blog, What’s Your Passion?, I told you all about my research methods class and about how I’m supposed to be coming up with a research project based on my passions.
I mentioned that I was interested in a few different things: music, relationships, and depression. My process for choosing between the three was pretty simple. My professor had been telling us over and over again that we’re in the stage of our lives in which we’re fascinated by relationships, so obviously I couldn’t do research on relationships, because then I’d just be a statistic– just another young adult who wants to understand relationships, what else is new? And I didn’t want to choose depression because, well, it was too depressing. While the topic was interesting, I wanted something a little more “different” as far as psychology goes, and something that I would be happy to study throughout the semester. I decided to choose music because I truly am interested in why we feel the way we do when we listen to particular songs, and also because I thought it was one of the more unique ideas in my class.
On the outset, I was excited because I knew what I was passionate about, and in my opinion, my passion was a lot more exciting than everybody else’s in the class. My plan was to come up with a glorious research idea that would solve all my questions and everybody else’s about feelings and music, and that I would make no mistakes in the process, because I had chosen an awesome topic.
Of course, I was very wrong. Once we had to start researching, I found that there was no available former study that got at exactly what I was curious about. These studies focused on things like whether music with a fast tempo makes us happy, and whether music with a slow tempo makes us sad. I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t into it. I think now that what I’m really interested in, as far as music goes, is how songs become associated with something in our memory and how this causes them to take on a significant meaning for us. Anyway, that’s not the point of this story.
By the time we had to make our first mock survey (a survey that we would have participants take if our study were real), I knew that my original idea just wasn’t working, so I paused to think about what else I could possibly study. I was expecting this to be a long and difficult process (funny, it seems that my expectations of whether something will be difficult or easy tend to always be wrong) but the answer came to me effortlessly. Here’s how it happened:
Q: Honestly, what do I really find interesting?
Q: What would I do in all of my spare time if I could?
A: Watch chick flicks.
Tada! I will study how movies influence expectations toward love. I’ve jumped back into the process with much more excitement than I had before, actually enjoying the research and feeling a happy challenge at coming up with good survey questions. This is clearly not my forte– my questions do a pretty poor job of not giving away what the survey is about, but I have time to learn– but I’m enjoying it much more now. What a crazy concept, that when we’re studying something we think is interesting, we actually enjoy studying it…..
Now my only disappointment with this whole project is that we don’t truly get to learn the answer to our research question. Because we don’t have time to run a real study, our teacher is going to create bogus data for us to use in our results section. I guess it’s nice that we don’t have to put in the extra work of actually carrying out the experiment, but now I really am curious about the answers! However, Professor Breland showed us a video of a former student who followed her research passion to grad school, so who knows? Maybe that could be me.
Until next time!