Dissertation idea - help!

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AnnSimone
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Dissertation idea - help!

Post by AnnSimone » Wed Mar 01, 2017 1:50 pm

Hi all,

It's that time of year where psychology students such as myself are asked to create research proposals for our dissertation for our last year. Really exciting! However.. Although I had a clear idea of what I wanted to do, I have now been discouraged from my idea by my tutor due to the difficulties I may face when recruiting :cry:

Due to my great interest in mental health and playing music, I wanted to combine the two in order to create a dissertation I will truly enjoy the process of.
My idea was to examine if musicians somehow show less depression/anxiety and higher mental well-being. However, I am acknowledging that in order to do so, I would have to recruit a group of musicians with anxiety/depression, a group of musicians without, a group of non-musicians with anxiety/depression and one without, in order to make direct comparisons.

I acknowledge that will be extremely difficult to do, simply because of the difficulty in actually finding enough participants for each of the 4 groups. This is exactly why my tutor is trying to direct me in all other directions.

However, I do believe I will be able to assess musicians years(months) of musical experience and see if that can predict their mental well-being scores. Although, this seemingly won't be enough for a dissertation.

Even so, I lose out in the important aspect of what I wanted to do - depression and anxiety. Yet I cannot seem to figure out ways of approaching it, without potentially ending up with little to no participants.

1) What are peoples thoughts and ideas on my dissertation idea?
2) Does anyone have interesting inputs as to how I may be able to approach depression/anxiety in musicians?

My apologies for the long message. I hope some people have interesting inputs/feedback and nice constructive criticism!!

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BlueCat
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Re: Dissertation idea - help!

Post by BlueCat » Wed Mar 01, 2017 11:33 pm

Why do you need so may comparison groups? Wouldn't it work just as well simply using a general population of musicians vs non musicians, and scoring them on a variety of measures?
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miriam
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Re: Dissertation idea - help!

Post by miriam » Thu Mar 02, 2017 5:35 am

Indeed. Why not just send out a survey about depression/anxiety, and then ask people to rate how much they play music and to what level of skill (and perhaps how much time per week they spend listening to music). Then you can see whether there is a correlation between time spent playing music and mental health, or a difference between musicians and non-musicians. Plus it would be a non-clinical sample, and easy to recruit over the internet!
AnnSimone wrote:However, I do believe I will be able to assess musicians years(months) of musical experience and see if that can predict their mental well-being scores. Although, this seemingly won't be enough for a dissertation.

Even so, I lose out in the important aspect of what I wanted to do - depression and anxiety. Yet I cannot seem to figure out ways of approaching it, without potentially ending up with little to no participants.
I disagree, I think you can make this sufficient for a dissertation, particularly if you read up what might be the mediators between music and mental health. For example, is is worth asking about mindfulness in your survey? I'd expect that to be part of the appeal in playing or listening to music, and a good skill to build resilience against depression and anxiety, for example.
Miriam

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Re: Dissertation idea - help!

Post by alexh » Thu Mar 02, 2017 8:12 am

What is the existing literature on musician's mental wellbeing? Use the literature to develop your idea. https://thump.vice.com/en_uk/article/st ... lth-issues

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AnnSimone
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Re: Dissertation idea - help!

Post by AnnSimone » Thu Mar 02, 2017 10:02 am

BlueCat wrote:Why do you need so may comparison groups? Wouldn't it work just as well simply using a general population of musicians vs non musicians, and scoring them on a variety of measures?
To be honest BlueCat, I can't give you a sufficient answer as to why. My initial idea was exactly what you just stated. However, my tutor stated two things during a meeting:
1) A lot of musicians take drugs because they're depressed, that'll influence your study. (Don't even ask, I don't agree with this at all).
2) It'll be complex to do as you'll need so many comparison groups. (I'm assuming to rule out other factors?)
miriam wrote:Indeed. Why not just send out a survey about depression/anxiety, and then ask people to rate how much they play music and to what level of skill (and perhaps how much time per week they spend listening to music). Then you can see whether there is a correlation between time spent playing music and mental health, or a difference between musicians and non-musicians. Plus it would be a non-clinical sample, and easy to recruit over the internet!
I like the idea of the correlation, I didn't initially think of correlations beforehand, just more straightforward comparisons. I'll have to speak to my tutor more and investigate her reasons as to why I can't just have a simple musician vs non-musician group. Unfortunately, my tutor is fond of the ''I will help you as little as I can, so you can learn (the hard way..)'' which is why I'm not sure of her comparison example!!
alexh wrote:What is the existing literature on musician's mental wellbeing? Use the literature to develop your idea. https://thump.vice.com/en_uk/article/st ... lth-issues
Loads of material surrounding musical therapy which incorporates both listening to music and playing music. I'll be looking at the latter. Although, I've not found any exact studies that does what my tutor suggest for me to do. I will have a more thorough read-through.

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AnnSimone
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Re: Dissertation idea - help!

Post by AnnSimone » Thu Mar 02, 2017 2:18 pm

Just a quick update.

I've spoken to one of my lecturers, and the reason why I would need so many comparison groups is to rule out confounding variables. By only having a musician vs non-musician group, I would potentially end up with an imbalanced sample of mental health. From what I can understand :roll:

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Re: Dissertation idea - help!

Post by fakename » Thu Mar 02, 2017 9:09 pm

But ... wouldn't that be your result?

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AnnSimone
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Re: Dissertation idea - help!

Post by AnnSimone » Thu Mar 02, 2017 9:44 pm

fakename wrote:But ... wouldn't that be your result?
From what I can understand from my tutor, the problem will be that I can't actually say it's playing an instrument that affects well-being/anxiety/depression if I found a difference between musicians/non-musicians. I.e. it could be other confounding variables such as individual differences, family life, age, just generally any environmental factors that may have been the cause for the difference. So by having so many groups (depression/anxiety musician/non-musician group and musician/non-musician group with no mental health problems), you can rule out such confounding variables (at least more) and truly establish if it is the playing a musical instrument that helps.

I'm just slightly in deep waters, I'm reading several pieces of work to expand my ideas although I'm not having much luck. I'm concerned I would have to give up my idea entirely, which would be a shame as I would truly enjoy doing a dissertation on this area (would probably make my last year more enjoyable too!).

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maven
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Re: Dissertation idea - help!

Post by maven » Thu Mar 02, 2017 11:12 pm

But all control groups have the same issue, and yet they are still the main scientific method - you just have to test how skew your groups are on the major demographic factors before you start.
Maven.

Wise men talk because they have something to say, fools because they have to say something - Plato
The fool thinks himself to be wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool - Shakespeare

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AnnSimone
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Re: Dissertation idea - help!

Post by AnnSimone » Fri Mar 03, 2017 8:55 pm

maven wrote:But all control groups have the same issue, and yet they are still the main scientific method - you just have to test how skew your groups are on the major demographic factors before you start.
I'll have to see what my tutor says. It'll be quite difficult to do a study, when your tutor (most likely supervisor too) doesn't want you to do it, because of the difficulties.

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Bela
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Dissertation idea - help!

Post by Bela » Sat Mar 04, 2017 12:27 am

I agree with others here and am slightly confused about the study design if it were to have 4 groups as your tutor suggests. What would be your dependent variable if you went down this route? With the two group approach your DV would be scores on scales of anxiety/depression. With your IV being whether they are musicians or not. As others have said those confounds would exist in all group comparison studies and this is why we use statistical methods, to assess the likelihood that the result could be due to chance/other factors. You could do a power calculation to determine how many participants you would need in each group and you could always use demographic measures to account for the factors you mention if you worry they may be confounds (drug use etc) and then control for them when you run your statistical test. Otherwise the correlation study sounds good - time spent playing music and correlation to mental health. You could still assess for and control for any confounds within that too.


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AnnSimone
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Re: Dissertation idea - help!

Post by AnnSimone » Sat Mar 04, 2017 3:46 pm

I definitely agree with you Bela and everyone else who have commented so far. I will try to speak to my tutor(supervisor) about the things presented on this thread. I have my doubts about her being willing to listen, which will be a problem as I don't think she'll be happy if I don't go with her recommendations/guidance (not even sure if I can if my supervisor doesn't support me and my ideas?)

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sarahg
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Re: Dissertation idea - help!

Post by sarahg » Sun Mar 05, 2017 6:34 pm

If you want to control for the confounds, just collect the data on them and stick them in a regression to control for their impact :)

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AnnSimone
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Re: Dissertation idea - help!

Post by AnnSimone » Sun Mar 05, 2017 8:22 pm

sarahg wrote:If you want to control for the confounds, just collect the data on them and stick them in a regression to control for their impact :)
Yeah, I will definitely speak to my tutor about those possibilities. I think her main concern will be personality as a confounding variable and previous history of mental illness!

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maven
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Re: Dissertation idea - help!

Post by maven » Mon Mar 06, 2017 1:18 am

I'm still not understanding why they would be different in a group that plays musical instruments to one that doesn't. You could even exclude people who have or had serious mental health problems if you felt it was necessary.
Maven.

Wise men talk because they have something to say, fools because they have to say something - Plato
The fool thinks himself to be wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool - Shakespeare

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