Many high school students take an introductory class on human psychology, a broad area of study relating to mental processes such as behavior and mood. For students with an interest in the topic, doing a project for class or a science fair is a good opportunity to delve deeper into the subject and explore it in a practical way.
Blood Pressure and Color
The research performed in this project attempts to determine whether color has a measurable effect on subjects' blood pressure and, if so, what the effect is. Assemble a blood pressure cuff, a flashlight and a few sheets of light-colored gels, the sheets used for theater lights. If you can't get gels, try a few thicknesses of colored cellophane wrap. Put your first subject in a darkened room with the colored light and measure his blood pressure at the one-, two- and three-minute marks. Repeat with several other colors of light and record your results in a table. Compare results across several test subjects to see if any particular colors affected blood pressure.
Heart Rate and Music
This project explores the possibility that music can affect a person's heart rate while listening. You'll need samples of several distinctly different types of music, such as classical, jazz, light rock, rap and heavy metal, and a heart-rate sensor or other method of monitoring heart rate. Record each subject's resting heart rate after a minute of sitting quietly and record it again after listening to a minute of each music clip. Be sure to let your subject's heart rate return to her resting rate between each different type of music. Record your results in a chart and see if there are patterns across multiple subjects for each type of music.
Taste Versus Smell
Explore the relationship between smell and taste perception. Gather several items for smelling, such as a lemon, vanilla extract, cinnamon and garlic. Purchase candy suckers in a variety of flavors, making sure you have one of each flavor for each subject in your study. For each subject, pair the smelling substances with the sucker flavors, such as garlic with an orange sucker. Blindfold your first subject, place the item for smelling under his nose, then let him try the sucker just long enough to taste it. Ask him to write down the flavor of the sucker. Repeat the experiment with the rest of the flavors and then do the same process with your other test subject. Record and compare the results to see how accurately the subjects were able to identify sucker flavors.
Personality Type and Memory
First, classify subjects into groups based on personality type, using a method such as the Jungian Typology Test to determine introverts and extroverts. Try to find an equal number of each personality type. Next, administer a memory test to everyone. Use a list of 15 random words and 15 random numbers on a sheet of paper. Allow the subjects to study the list for 45 seconds, collect the papers, and then give them a minute to write down all the words and numbers they can recall on a blank sheet of paper. You can give them the list and the blank sheet at the same time to keep the transition time between memorization and recall to a minimum, perhaps 20 seconds. Record your results in a table and compare to see if there is any correlation between better memory performance and a particular personality type.
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