Reaction Time Lab

Reaction Time Lab

Author: Jesse Voltin
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Introduction to Psychology

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PROBLEM:  What can change reaction time?


Materials:  Metric ruler Calculator




Reaction time is how long it takes for a message to travel along your nerve pathways.


Have a partner hold a metric ruler at the end with the highest number.


2) Make sure you know EXACTLY where you are starting.


3) Place the thumb and first finger of your left hand close to, but not touching, the end with the lowest number.


4) When your partner drops the ruler, try to catch it between your thumb and finger.


5) Record where the top of your thumb is when you catch the ruler. Make your measurements to the nearest 0.5cm.  Put this number in your data table as trial 1. At any time if you do not catch the ruler in time, record this as 35 cm.


6) Repeat steps 2 to 5 three more times. 


7) State if you think the ruler will fall farther if you catch it with your right hand.


8) Repeat steps 2 to 5 four times using your right hand to catch the ruler.


9) Switch roles and drop the ruler for your partner.


10) Calculate:  To complete your data table, calculate the time in seconds needed for the ruler to fall.  Do the following for each trial: 


1)  Multiply the distance in cm by 2.  2) Divide the result in step 1 by 1000.  3) Calculate the square root of the result in step 2.  Round all answers to 2 decimal places.


11) Find the average for each column.


12) Answer all discussion questions


Work Sheet