Finding evidence in support of or against a social proverb

from Dr. Monica Biernat

The goal of this assignment is to use evidence from the social psychological research literature to address whether or not there is support for a popular proverb or saying about social behavior. This paper should be 5 - 7 pages in length (double-spaced).

You first need to choose a proverb to write about (see potential list below). You are encouraged to choose one of the proverbs from this list, but you may also come up with your own (as long as Dr. Biernat or your TA approves your choice).

After choosing a proverb, you will need to find at least 2 references from psychological journals that contain social psychological research that is relevant to your proverb. It may help to look over the pages in your text for ideas about where to start. You will probably also want to try doing a literature search using PsycInfo - available at the library and on-line through any KU computer or account. If you are on a KU computer or account, you can get to PsycInfo through this address: You'll have to log in, then select the PsycInfo database. You'll have to identify key words to search for, and you will probably have to do a lot of weeding out of irrelevant information. PsycInfo will provide you with abstracts so that you can get a better sense of whether the articles you find will be relevant for your proverb. You'll then need to get hold of the articles themselves and read them so you can describe them in your report. Be sure to only use articles that directly address the issue presented in the proverb.

For the paper itself, you should do the following:

1. Present the proverb you are interested in, along with your own personal "theory" about whether the proverb is true or not.

2. For each of the two studies you find, do the following:
· Describe the study that was done - what was the hypothesis? What were the independent and dependent variables?
· Describe the findings. If the article is complex, it's ok to just focus on the findings that are relevant for your proverb.
· Offer a summary of whether the study supports or refutes the proverb.
(Remember to do this for each of the studies)

3. Finish with a final conclusion about your proverb or saying: Do the two studies suggest the proverb is true or not? Also offer comments about shortcomings or weaknesses of the social psychological literature that you examined. Are there problems with the studies that make you question their validity?

Remember, your research might support the proverb, or it may not. It's also possible that you'll find one study supporting your proverb and one refuting it. Any of these possibilities is fine! If your studies are in conflict with each other, be sure to discuss why you think that's the case (e.g., how do differences between the studies account for the different findings?)

4. Attach copies of your two articles to the paper.

List of proverbs and sayings

1. Birds of a feather flock together.
2. Love is blind.
3. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
4. There's no such thing as love at first sight.
5. I'd rather be disliked for who I am than liked for who I am not.
6. No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
7. Only dead fish swim with the stream.
8. With a silver tongue and kindness you can drag an elephant by a hair.
9. A friend in need is a friend indeed.
10. Actions speak louder than words.
11. Beauty is only skin deep.
12. Familiarity breeds contempt.
13. Good fences make good neighbors.
14. Honesty is the best policy.
15. Revenge is sweet.
16. Never judge a book by its cover.
17. You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.
18. Too many cooks spoil the broth.
19. True love never grows old.
20. You can't please everyone.
21. Men are only interested in sex, whereas women are interested in love.
22. (When describing people from another group): They all look alike!
23. When you're feeling angry, "blowing off a little steam" by exercising or working hard will help.
24. Children aren't born with prejudices- they learn them.
25. The more people we can put on the case, the more likely we'll solve the problem.
26. People prefer potential dating partners who are "hard to get."
27. A smile for a stranger opens many gates.
28. The nice thing about standards is there are so many to choose from.
29. A jury consists of twelve people who determine which client has the better lawyer.
30. The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made.