Last Experiment


I’m currently taking Psych 101 as my 3B elective and its a choice I don’t regret making. The insights I’ve gained more than offset the immense amount of reading demanded.

Now, its customary that Psych 101 students have the opportunity to gain up to 5% extra by participating in research studies or writing short critiques on psychology articles. Since the former involves the least amount of work, guess which one most students choose. The procedure is simple. Fill out a questionnaire (1 – 1.5 hours), submit it online and wait for the requests to start pouring in.

Or at least that’s the theory.

Unlike Rob, who’s up to 9 (I believe) requests so far, I’ve managed only a paltry 4 – the last of which was today. Maybe I’m too ordinary – or too conflicted – to make an appropriate research subject.

Today’s psychology experiment was for me, the most tedious & least anticipated one. The problems started before the study itself. On first contact.

Customarily, when I receive requests for a study the experimenter:

  1. Provides a quick rundown
  2. Asks if I’m interested
  3. States the anticipated amount of time

At the very least they ask if I’m interested – its courtesy. I don’t mind having to probe for the remaining information. But no, not this experimenter. Imagine the following conversation:

Experimenter: “Hi, I’m running a study on…when will you participate?”
Me: “Huh?”

When will I participate? What – is this a foregone conclusion that I’m desperate for that final percent and I’ll prostrate myself to get it? I decide to ignore this and forge ahead.

Experimenter: “Good. The following times are good for me. Pick one”
Me: “Umm….”

Isn’t this supposed to be a mutual choice? Am I just naturally the sort of person that people feel they can dictate choices to? Don’t worry – just call Allen. He’ll do it. He’s a pushover. He can’t say “No”.

Why do I feel like this is happening a lot recently?

This stuck in my craw and the first time this happened I declined. “Sorry – pick someone else.”

He called again last Friday and although the exchange was similar, I didn’t care anymore. It didn’t matter. He threw out his times; I chose the first one.

Fast forward to 11AM Monday.

The PAS building is a maze. Like most of the structures in Waterloo, on entry you wonder which deranged architect the administration dragged out to design such a human-unfriendly structure. Probably the lowest bidder. And come to think of it, maybe the architect had a sense of humor – people in a maze – rats in a maze. How appropriate.

“You’re in a maze of twisty passages, all alike”. That certainly describes the situation if you’re trying to find an office. Specifically 4222. Procedure? Follow the paper signs for 4218 and pray.

The experiment itself was…brutal. You have to match 1 of 2 flu strains based on 4 symptoms experienced by patients. Sounds ok right? Now imagine having to do that 400 times.


I was tired when I got in and this repetitive action did not help. I had too many micro-sleeps to count and I know of at least one instance where I actually fell sideways, jerking awake when my hand mashed the Enter key. Talk about ‘human error’ in experimentation. My experimenter is really going to wonder about those random little anomalies in my answers.


As a final indignity, I had to traverse the maze when I was done and fill out the green credit slip. Normally I wouldn’t care. Today I wanted out.

I had lunch in the PAS – it seemed fitting. The largest glass of coffee I could find and an apple. Truly the nutrition of champions.

I’m just tired of all of this. So tired.

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