Purpose or Problem
The purpose is to determine which is the stronger trait for selecting objects: the location of the object closest to the hand favored (right-handed or left-handed) or the association of color, specifically, gender-associated colors (pink and blue).
"Pink is for girls and blue is for boys" is the age-old saying. If two cupcakes are offered to a male, both being identical except that one has pink stripes across the icing and one has blue, will he chose the blue one or will he chose the one that is closest to the hand he favors?
In this behavioral experiment, we try to determine which is the stronger trait among males, handedness or color. Determine if most males will choose a cupcake that is easier to take because of handedness (right handed/left handed) or more inconvenient to take, but is colored blue rather than pink.
If a male is told that two cupcakes are identical except for the color of the icing stripes, do you think the color will influence the decision as to which one he will choose? Because most of us have heard the saying "Pink is for girls and blue is for boys," do you think a boy would unconsciously select a blue-striped cupcake over a pink one? Do you think he would choose a blue one out of fear that someone watching might ridicule him for taking a pink one because he thinks pink is for girls?
Or, do you think convenience has a stronger influence in his selection? When two cupcakes are placed in front of a person, a right-handed person may tend to take the cupcake on the right, because it is closer and easier to take, while a left-handed person may go for the one on the left.
Hypothesize that more males will select a blue-striped cupcake over a pink-striped cupcake, even though the pink-striped cupcake will be closer to the hand he favors (right handed/left handed).
- Two dozen cupcakes with white icing
- Food coloring
- Two small dishes (cereal bowls) to mix food coloring
- Between 10 and 20 male friends
- Small serving tray
- Paper and pencil
- Camcorder or camera and video tape recorder (optional)
- Possible adult supervision needed
Bake or purchase a batch of cupcakes with white icing. The size and shape must be held constant.
Using food coloring, pour a small dish of blue (a standard food color) and mix a dish of pink (stirring several colors together).
With an eyedropper, draw blue parallel lines on half the cupcakes. Draw pink parallel lines on the rest of the cupcakes. You may want to mix a batch of icing and mold it into strips, coloring some blue and some pink. Then, lay the strips in parallel across the top of the cupcakes.
The variable in this experiment is the color of the stripes on the cupcakes. The blue-colored cupcakes will constantly be positioned on a serving tray, so they are on the opposite side of the person's handedness.
The object of the stripes is to give enough color to the top of each cupcake to establish a definite color difference between them. We do not want to make all the icing solid blue or solid pink, because people tend to associate color with taste. It is important that the test subjects do not make a choice of cupcakes based on how they think a cupcake will taste. Simply being told that all the cupcakes are identical except for the color stripes on the icing may not be enough to unconsciously convince them.
Next, gather a dozen or more male test subjects. We must know if each subject is left-handed or right-handed, so we will ask them. But, we do not want to tip them off that this experiment has something to do with their handedness. So, disguise the question by asking five or six nonrelated questions, surrounding the handedness questions by other questions. When polling each person, write down all their answers, so they do not suspect you are only interested in the data about their handedness. You may choose to use a computer to type the questions and print copies for the subjects to fill in themselves.
- What is your favorite music group?
- Are you right- or left-handed?
- Is your bedroom on a first or second floor?
- Name a TV show you try to never miss.
- What time do you usually go to bed at night?
Obviously, question two, which is buried within the group of questions, is the only one we care about, but it is camouflaged with other questions.
Once you know if a person is right- or left-handed, place a blue cupcake on a tray that will be on the opposite side of her handedness and position a pink cupcake on the other side. For example, if a person is right-handed, place a pink cupcake on the side of the serving tray that will be nearest her right hand when the tray is presented to her and place the blue cupcake on the left side. She will have to extend her arm further to reach the blue cupcake than the pink one.
This experiment lends itself well to video tape recording for later evaluation and to enhance a presentation in a science fair.
Did more boys pick blue cupcakes or did they pick the handier pink cupcakes?
Be sure none of your test subjects has an allergy or food-related problem with cupcakes before they eat one.
Write down the results of your experiment. Document all observations and data collected.
Come to a conclusion as to whether or not your hypothesis was correct.
Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state’s handbook of Science Safety.