Sample APA Research Paper
Sample Title Page
Running on Empty
Place
manuscript
page headers
one-half
inch from
the top. Put
five spaces
between the
page header
and the page
number.
Full title,
authors, and
school name
are centered
on the page,
typed in
uppercase and
lowercase.
Running on Empty:
The Effects of Food Deprivation on
Concentration and Perseverance
Thomas Delancy and Adam Solberg
Dordt College
1
34
Sample Abstract
Running on Empty
2
Abstract
This study examined the effects of short-term food deprivation on two
The abstract
summarizes
the problem,
participants,
hypotheses,
methods
used,
results, and
conclusions.
cognitive abilities—concentration and perseverance. Undergraduate
students (N-51) were tested on both a concentration task and a
perseverance task after one of three levels of food deprivation: none, 12
hours, or 24 hours. We predicted that food deprivation would impair both
concentration scores and perseverance time. Food deprivation had no
significant effect on concentration scores, which is consistent with recent
research on the effects of food deprivation (Green et al., 1995; Green
et al., 1997). However, participants in the 12-hour deprivation group
spent significantly less time on the perseverance task than those in both
the control and 24-hour deprivation groups, suggesting that short-term
deprivation may affect some aspects of cognition and not others.
An APA Research Paper Model
Thomas Delancy and Adam Solberg wrote the following research paper for
a psychology class. As you review their paper, read the side notes and examine the
following:
● The use and documentation of their numerous sources.
● The background they provide before getting into their own study results.
● The scientific language used when reporting their results.
Center the
title one inch
from the top.
Double-space
throughout.
Running on Empty
3
Running on Empty: The Effects of Food Deprivation
on Concentration and Perseverance
Many things interrupt people’s ability to focus on a task: distractions,
headaches, noisy environments, and even psychological disorders. To
The
introduction
states the
topic and
the main
questions to
be explored.
some extent, people can control the environmental factors that make it
difficult to focus. However, what about internal factors, such as an empty
stomach? Can people increase their ability to focus simply by eating
regularly?
One theory that prompted research on how food intake affects the
average person was the glucostatic theory. Several researchers in the
The
researchers
supply
background
information
by discussing
past research
on the topic.
1940s and 1950s suggested that the brain regulates food intake in order
to maintain a blood-glucose set point. The idea was that people become
hungry when their blood-glucose levels drop significantly below their set
point and that they become satisfied after eating, when their blood-glucose
levels return to that set point. This theory seemed logical because glucose
is the brain’s primary fuel (Pinel, 2000). The earliest investigation of the
general effects of food deprivation found that long-term food deprivation
(36 hours and longer) was associated with sluggishness, depression,
irritability, reduced heart rate, and inability to concentrate (Keys, Brozek,
Extensive
referencing
establishes
support
for the
discussion.
Henschel, Mickelsen, & Taylor, 1950). Another study found that fasting
for several days produced muscular weakness, irritability, and apathy or
depression (Kollar, Slater, Palmer, Docter, & Mandell, 1964). Since that time,
research has focused mainly on how nutrition affects cognition. However, as
Green, Elliman, and Rogers (1995) point out, the effects of food deprivation
on cognition have received comparatively less attention in recent years.
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4
The relatively sparse research on food deprivation has left room for
further research. First, much of the research has focused either on chronic
The
researchers
explain how
their study
will add to
past research
on the topic.
starvation at one end of the continuum or on missing a single meal at the
other end (Green et al., 1995). Second, some of the findings have been
contradictory. One study found that skipping breakfast impairs certain
aspects of cognition, such as problem-solving abilities (Pollitt, Lewis,
Garza, & Shulman, 1983). However, other research by M. W. Green, N.
A. Elliman, and P. J. Rogers (1995, 1997) has found that food deprivation
ranging from missing a single meal to 24 hours without eating does not
significantly impair cognition. Third, not all groups of people have been
sufficiently studied. Studies have been done on 9–11 year-olds (Pollitt et
Clear
transitions
guide readers
through the
researchers’
reasoning.
al., 1983), obese subjects (Crumpton, Wine, & Drenick, 1966), college-age
men and women (Green et al., 1995, 1996, 1997), and middle-age males
(Kollar et al., 1964). Fourth, not all cognitive aspects have been studied.
In 1995 Green, Elliman, and Rogers studied sustained attention, simple
reaction time, and immediate memory; in 1996 they studied attentional
bias; and in 1997 they studied simple reaction time, two-finger tapping,
recognition memory, and free recall. In 1983, another study focused on
reaction time and accuracy, intelligence quotient, and problem solving
(Pollitt et al.).
According to some researchers, most of the results so far indicate that
cognitive function is not affected significantly by short-term fasting (Green
et al., 1995, p. 246). However, this conclusion seems premature due to the
relative lack of research on cognitive functions such as concentration and
The
researchers
support their
decision to
focus on
concentration
and
perseverance.
perseverance. To date, no study has tested perseverance, despite its
importance in cognitive functioning. In fact, perseverance may be a better
indicator than achievement tests in assessing growth in learning and
thinking abilities, as perseverance helps in solving complex problems
(Costa, 1984). Another study also recognized that perseverance, better
learning techniques, and effort are cognitions worth studying (D’Agostino,
1996). Testing as many aspects of cognition as possible is key because the
nature of the task is important when interpreting the link between food
deprivation and cognitive performance (Smith & Kendrick, 1992).
Running on Empty
The
researchers
state their
initial
hypotheses.
5
Therefore, the current study helps us understand how short-term food
deprivation affects concentration on and perseverance with a difficult task.
Specifically, participants deprived of food for 24 hours were expected to
perform worse on a concentration test and a perseverance task than those
deprived for 12 hours, who in turn were predicted to perform worse than
those who were not deprived of food.
Method
Headings and
subheadings
show the
paper’s
organization.
Participants
Participants included 51 undergraduate-student volunteers (32
females, 19 males), some of whom received a small amount of extra credit
in a college course. The mean college grade point average (GPA) was 3.19.
Potential participants were excluded if they were dieting, menstruating,
or taking special medication. Those who were struggling with or had
The
experiment’s
method is
described,
using the
terms and
acronyms of
the discipline.
struggled with an eating disorder were excluded, as were potential
participants addicted to nicotine or caffeine.
Materials
Concentration speed and accuracy were measured using an online
numbers-matching test (www.psychtests.com/tests/iq/concentration.html)
that consisted of 26 lines of 25 numbers each. In 6 minutes, participants
were required to find pairs of numbers in each line that added up to 10.
Scores were calculated as the percentage of correctly identified pairs out of
Passive voice
is used to
emphasize
the
experiment,
not the
researchers;
otherwise,
active voice
is used.
a possible 120. Perseverance was measured with a puzzle that contained
five octagons—each of which included a stencil of a specific object (such
as an animal or a flower). The octagons were to be placed on top of
each other in a specific way to make the silhouette of a rabbit. However,
three of the shapes were slightly altered so that the task was impossible.
Perseverance scores were calculated as the number of minutes that a
participant spent on the puzzle task before giving up.
Procedure
At an initial meeting, participants gave informed consent. Each
consent form contained an assigned identification number and requested
the participant’s GPA. Students were then informed that they would be
notified by e-mail and telephone about their assignment to one of the
Running on Empty
6
three experimental groups. Next, students were given an instruction
The
experiment is
laid out step
by step,
with time
transitions
like “then”
and “next.”
sheet. These written instructions, which we also read aloud, explained
the experimental conditions, clarified guidelines for the food deprivation
period, and specified the time and location of testing.
Participants were randomly assigned to one of these conditions
using a matched-triplets design based on the GPAs collected at the
initial meeting. This design was used to control individual differences
in cognitive ability. Two days after the initial meeting, participants were
informed of their group assignment and its condition and reminded that,
if they were in a food-deprived group, they should not eat anything after
10 a.m. the next day. Participants from the control group were tested at
7:30 p.m. in a designated computer lab on the day the deprivation started.
Those in the 12-hour group were tested at 10 p.m. on that same day.
Those in the 24-hour group were tested at 10:40 a.m. on the following day.
At their assigned time, participants arrived at a computer lab
for testing. Each participant was given written testing instructions,
which were also read aloud. The online concentration test had already
Attention is
shown to
the control
features.
been loaded on the computers for participants before they arrived for
testing, so shortly after they arrived they proceeded to complete the
test. Immediately after all participants had completed the test and their
scores were recorded, participants were each given the silhouette puzzle
and instructed how to proceed. In addition, they were told that (1) they
would have an unlimited amount of time to complete the task, and (2)
they were not to tell any other participant whether they had completed
the puzzle or simply given up. This procedure was followed to prevent
the group influence of some participants seeing others give up. Any
participant still working on the puzzle after 40 minutes was stopped to
keep the time of the study manageable. Immediately after each participant
stopped working on the puzzle, he/she gave demographic information
and completed a few manipulation-check items. We then debriefed and
dismissed each participant outside of the lab.
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Results
The writers
summarize
their findings,
including
problems
encountered.
Perseverance data from one control-group participant were
eliminated because she had to leave the session early. Concentration data
from another control-group participant were dropped because he did not
complete the test correctly. Three manipulation-check questions indicated
that each participant correctly perceived his or her deprivation condition
and had followed the rules for it. The average concentration score was
77.78 (SD = 14.21), which was very good considering that anything over
50 percent is labeled “good” or “above average.” The average time spent
on the puzzle was 24.00 minutes (SD = 10.16), with a maximum of 40
All figures
and
illustrations
(other than
tables) are
numbered
in the order
that they
are first
mentioned in
the text.
minutes allowed.
We predicted that participants in the 24-hour deprivation group
would perform worse on the concentration test and the perseverance task
than those in the 12-hour group, who in turn would perform worse than
those in the control group. A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA)
showed no significant effect of deprivation condition on concentration,
F(2,46) = 1.06, p = .36 (see Figure 1). Another one-way ANOVA indicated
Figure 1.
100
Mean score on concentration test
“See Figure
1” sends
readers to a
figure (graph,
photograph,
chart, or
drawing)
contained in
the paper.
90
80
70
60
50
No deprivation
12-hour deprivation
Deprivation Condition
24-hour deprivation
Running on Empty
The
researchers
restate their
hypotheses
and the
results, and
go on to
interpret
those results.
8
a significant effect of deprivation condition on perseverance time,
F(2,47) = 7.41, p < .05. Post-hoc Tukey tests indicated that the 12-hour
deprivation group (M = 17.79, SD = 7.84) spent significantly less time
on the perseverance task than either the control group (M = 26.80, SD =
6.20) or the 24-hour group (M = 28.75, SD = 12.11), with no significant
difference between the latter two groups (see Figure 2). No significant
effect was found for gender either generally or with specific deprivation
conditions, Fs < 1.00. Unexpectedly, food deprivation had no significant
effect on concentration scores. Overall, we found support for our
hypothesis that 12 hours of food deprivation would significantly impair
perseverance when compared to no deprivation. Unexpectedly, 24 hours
of food deprivation did not significantly affect perseverance relative to the
control group. Also unexpectedly, food deprivation did not significantly
affect concentration scores.
Mean score on perseverance test
Figure 2.
30
28
26
24
22
20
18
16
14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
No deprivation
12-hour deprivation
24-hour deprivation
Deprivation Condition
Discussion
The purpose of this study was to test how different levels of food
deprivation affect concentration on and perseverance with difficult tasks.
Running on Empty
9
We predicted that the longer people had been deprived of food, the lower
they would score on the concentration task, and the less time they would
spend on the perseverance task. In this study, those deprived of food did
give up more quickly on the puzzle, but only in the 12-hour group. Thus,
the hypothesis was partially supported for the perseverance task. However,
concentration was found to be unaffected by food deprivation, and thus
the hypothesis was not supported for that task.
The findings of this study are consistent with those of Green et al.
The writers
speculate
on possible
explanations
for the
unexpected
results.
(1995), where short-term food deprivation did not affect some aspects
of cognition, including attentional focus. Taken together, these findings
suggest that concentration is not significantly impaired by short-term
food deprivation. The findings on perseverance, however, are not as easily
explained. We surmise that the participants in the 12-hour group gave up
more quickly on the perseverance task because of their hunger produced
by the food deprivation. But why, then, did those in the 24-hour group
fail to yield the same effect? We postulate that this result can be explained
by the concept of “learned industriousness,” wherein participants who
perform one difficult task do better on a subsequent task than the
participants who never took the initial task (Eisenberger & Leonard,
1980; Hickman, Stromme, & Lippman, 1998). Because participants
had successfully completed 24 hours of fasting already, their tendency
to persevere had already been increased, if only temporarily. Another
possible explanation is that the motivational state of a participant may be
a significant determinant of behavior under testing (Saugstad, 1967). This
idea may also explain the short perseverance times in the 12-hour group:
because these participants took the tests at 10 p.m., a prime time of the
night for conducting business and socializing on a college campus, they
may have been less motivated to take the time to work on the puzzle.
Research on food deprivation and cognition could continue in several
directions. First, other aspects of cognition may be affected by short-term
food deprivation, such as reading comprehension or motivation. With
respect to this latter topic, some students in this study reported decreased
motivation to complete the tasks because of a desire to eat immediately
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10
after the testing. In addition, the time of day when the respective groups
took the tests may have influenced the results: those in the 24-hour
group took the tests in the morning and may have been fresher and more
relaxed than those in the 12-hour group, who took the tests at night.
Perhaps, then, the motivation level of food-deprived participants could
be effectively tested. Second, longer-term food deprivation periods, such
as those experienced by people fasting for religious reasons, could be
explored. It is possible that cognitive function fluctuates over the duration
of deprivation. Studies could ask how long a person can remain focused
despite a lack of nutrition. Third, and perhaps most fascinating, studies
could explore how food deprivation affects learned industriousness. As
stated above, one possible explanation for the better perseverance times
in the 24-hour group could be that they spontaneously improved their
perseverance faculties by simply forcing themselves not to eat for 24
hours. Therefore, research could study how food deprivation affects the
acquisition of perseverance.
In conclusion, the results of this study provide some fascinating
The
conclusion
summarizes
the
outcomes,
stresses the
experiment’s
value, and
anticipates
further
advances on
the topic.
insights into the cognitive and physiological effects of skipping meals.
Contrary to what we predicted, a person may indeed be very capable of
concentrating after not eating for many hours. On the other hand, if one
is taking a long test or working long hours at a tedious task that requires
perseverance, one may be hindered by not eating for a short time, as
shown by the 12-hour group’s performance on the perseverance task.
Many people—students, working mothers, and those interested in fasting,
to mention a few—have to deal with short-term food deprivation,
intentional or unintentional. This research and other research to follow
will contribute to knowledge of the disadvantages—and possible
advantages—of skipping meals. The mixed results of this study suggest
that we have much more to learn about short-term food deprivation.
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11
References
All works
referred to
in the paper
appear on
the reference
page, listed
alphabetically
by author
(or title).
Costa, A. L. (1984). Thinking: How do we know students are getting better
at it? Roeper Review, 6, 197–199.
Crumpton, E., Wine, D. B., & Drenick, E. J. (1966). Starvation: Stress
or satisfaction? Journal of the American Medical Association, 196,
394–396.
D’Agostino, C. A. F. (1996). Testing a social-cognitive model of
achievement motivation.-Dissertation Abstracts International Section
A: Humanities & Social Sciences, 57, 1985.
Eisenberger, R., & Leonard, J. M. (1980). Effects of conceptual task
Each entry
follows APA
guidelines
for listing
authors,
dates,
titles, and
publishing
information.
difficulty on generalized persistence. American Journal of Psychology,
93, 285–298.
Green, M. W., Elliman, N. A., & Rogers, P. J. (1995). Lack of effect of
short-term fasting on cognitive function. Journal of Psychiatric
Research, 29, 245–253.
Green, M. W., Elliman, N. A., & Rogers, P. J. (1996). Hunger, caloric
preloading, and the selective processing of food and body shape
words. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 35, 143–151.
Green, M. W., Elliman, N. A., & Rogers, P. J. (1997). The study effects of
food deprivation and incentive motivation on blood glucose levels
and cognitive function. Psychopharmacology, 134, 88–94.
Hickman, K. L., Stromme, C., & Lippman, L. G. (1998). Learned
Capitalization,
punctuation,
and hanging
indentation
are consistent
with APA
format.
industriousness: Replication in principle. Journal of General
Psychology, 125, 213–217.
Keys, A., Brozek, J., Henschel, A., Mickelsen, O., & Taylor, H. L. (1950).
The biology of human starvation (Vol. 2). Minneapolis: University of
Minnesota Press.
Kollar, E. J., Slater, G. R., Palmer, J. O., Docter, R. F., & Mandell, A. J.
(1964). Measurement of stress in fasting man. Archives of General
Psychology, 11, 113–125.
Pinel, J. P. (2000). Biopsychology (4th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
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Pollitt, E., Lewis, N. L., Garza, C., & Shulman, R. J. (1982–1983). Fasting
and cognitive function. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 17, 169–174.
Saugstad, P. (1967). Effect of food deprivation on perception-cognition:
A comment [Comment on the article by David L. Wolitzky].
Psychological Bulletin, 68, 345–346.
Smith, A. P., & Kendrick, A. M. (1992). Meals and performance. In A. P.
Smith & D. M. Jones (Eds.), Handbook of human performance: Vol. 2,
Health and performance (pp. 1–23). San Diego: Academic Press.
Smith, A. P., Kendrick, A. M., & Maben, A. L. (1992). Effects of breakfast
and caffeine on performance and mood in the late morning and
after lunch. Neuropsychobiology, 26, 198–204.