Sierra Wolman

Reaction Times under Both Positive and Negative Distractions

            We tested the effects of outside stimuli on the reaction time of humans. Because humans work best under controlled and undisturbed circumstances, we hypothesized that the reaction time negatively affected the reaction time of humans. We hypothesized this because when a person is distracted, they have to focus on a variety of different stimuli simultaneously. This causes them to be distracted, and therefore their reaction time will decrease.

            To test our hypothesis, we took five subjects and distracted them by poking or hitting while they sat in front of a reaction timer and their immediate response was tested. The reaction timer test included both various colors and sounds. Following the first test, they were asked to perform the same test again only with no distraction. The third time the participant was asked to repeat the same test again while having their head massaged. This was repeated for each of the five subjects. It was predicted that both of the distractions would lead to slower reaction times than when the subjects were performing the test with no distraction.

            Our results indicated that the distraction reaction time was faster than the reaction time when a subject was not being distracted. The ANOVA test we ran was insignificant which did not lead us to any further conclusions. This could indicate that humans react differently to different colors of light. The reaction time for sounds might catch their attention more than a colored light bulb. These results are showing that different colors and sounds produce varying reaction times in the human brain, whether they are being distracted or not.

            Our results were completely inconsistent with our hypothesis and predicted results. One potential problem was the extremely small sample size used to test our hypothesis; in order to get valid results that conclusions could be drawn from, there would have to be 500 plus participants. This larger sample size would prove the hypothesis, and take possible flukes or trends into consideration. The overall result from a large sample size would better prove the hypothesis and eliminate any doubts that our results caused. Another problem would be the different colors and sounds we used to test reaction time, because they each produce different reaction times. Our test was not run under strictly controlled conditions either, there was a lot of room for possible human error. Other studies showed that people react differently to various simuli, and since our experiment had both color and sound, the results could have been falsely accumulated there as well. A new hypothesis that could be drawn from the newfound conclusions is that reaction time is affected in different ways depending on the stimuli used.