Firstly, participants were telephoned and asked to attend a one hour experimental session. They were informed that the study principally involved decision making in a computer environment. They were also informed that for part of the session they would be working with a partner, after which they were to complete a series of questionnaires. To increase the likelihood that participants would not be aware of the deception element of the study, they were questioned as to whether they had previously been involved in such a study at La Trobe University.
In measuring the rate of influence rejected through a computerised version of the standardised task setting, two deception elements were involved. The aim of the first was to create a belief in the participants that they were working with a real-life partner. This belief enabled assessment as to how expectations for competence in an interpersonal setting affect behaviour. The second deception involved creating a belief that the ability being tested was an important ability to have in order for the team to score well. This deception was aimed at enhancing the participants' motivation to work collectively with their task partner to achieve the best possible result.
Prior to commencement of the experiment, participants were required to complete a consent form which detailed the novel ability that was being tested, PRA. Participants were then verbally informed as to the importance of PRA, and that the reason they were working with a partner concerned an interest in team-based decision making. They were also told that as the study involved computer based decision-making they would only be communicating with their partner through their computer which was linked to their partner in an adjoining room. Participants were then informed that to enhance teamwork cohesion, basic personal details would be exchanged between themselves and their partner. These details were obtained via an information sheet which asked for their school of enrolment, their pastimes, and their goals in life.
After leaving the room, the experimenter then returned with the information sheet supposedly obtained from their task partner. Half of the participants were provided with an information sheet describing a more traditional subtype, while the other half were provided with an information sheet describing a more modern woman. In this, the subtype's age, and school of enrolment was matched to those of the participant to minimise the possibility that status characteristics other than gender would be contributing to their expectations of their partner's competence. The subtype compositions were obtained from a review of the literature on the subtypes of women (Glick et al., 1997; Eckes, 1994; 1996).
Participants were then given brief verbal instructions as to how to complete the practice phase of the task . These instructions were repeated in more detail by way of the computer program. They were then told to press a buzzer to indicate that they had completed the task. After leaving the room and closing the door the experimenter then entered an adjacent room (loudly) to reinforce the belief that there was another person participating in the experiment. Once the participant pressed the buzzer, the experimenter then re-entered the room.
Participants were then given instructions, for the team phase of the task. They were also told that the aim of the exercise was to work as a team to maximise task performance. They were then asked to wait while the experimenter delivered the instructions to their partner in the adjacent room. After an appropriate amount of time had passed, the experimenter then re-entered the room and told them that as their partner was ready, they could commence with the experiment. To reinforce the gender of their partner, the names of their partner (Amy: traditional subtype, Monique: modern subtype) were appropriately referred to throughout the procedure.
Once they had completed the team phase seven questions pertaining to their's and their partner's ability were presented by way of the computer.
After completing these questions, the experimenter then re-entered the room and asked them a series of questions about the task. This enabled the participants to discuss concerns that may have arisen, and further, allowed the experimenter to determine whether participants were aware of the deception involved in the study.
Participants were then informed as to the requirements of the WrdTask. The three versions of this task were distributed so that each version was received by roughly one third of the participants. In this it was emphasised that after exposure to each of the category-trait pairs, they were to respond as quickly as possible without sacrificing accuracy. Mid-way through the presentation of the 108 category-trait pairs, participants were given the opportunity to have a break.
After the participant had completed the WrdTask, the experimenter then re-entered the room and instructed them as to how to complete the SentComp. In this, half of the participants received one version, and the second half the other. Once this was completed the OthsVws, YrVws, and the ASI combined with the six WSQ statements were administered, and the requirements for each questionnaire explained.
Finally, the participants were debriefed using a particular protocol developed for use in this particular paradigm (Foddy & Smithson, 1996) In this, particular attention was paid to the participants' understanding of the deception involved in the study.