University of Southern California
Department of Psychology


This study has been reviewed and approved by the
University of Southern California Institutional Review Board
and Psychology Department Human Subjects Committee
USC UPIRB #UP-06-00315

Title of study: Social Events

You are asked to participate in a research study conducted by Stephen J. Read, PhD, and Doug Stenstrom, MA, from the Psychology Department, at the University of Southern California. You were selected as a possible participant in this study because you responded to our internet ad. Your participation is voluntary. You must be aged 18 or older to participate. Up to 600 subjects will participate in this study.

In this study, we are interested in how people think about other people and abstract issues involved in legal cases.

Completion and return of the questionnaire will constitute consent to participate in this research project.

You will receive an entry in a lottery for a $200 cash prize for participating in the study. The odds of winning are 1/200. Since we are enrolling 600 participants, 3 people will win $200. All 3 lottery winners will be drawn using a random number generator at the end of data collection. You must be 18 years or older in order to receive the lottery prize. You will be asked to read a series of unrelated stories about people involved in legal disputes. After each story, you will be asked to rate the extent to which you agree with statements about the people and/or the situation in each story. In the first part of the study, you will read several short stories (one paragraph each) and make two to four ratings for each story. In the second part of the study, you will read one longer story (under two pages) and make about 20 ratings for the story.
The order of the questions and the order of the stories is somewhat different for different subjects, and the specific version you may be given will be determined by a random process. The entire experiment can be completed in less than 45 minutes. You will not benefit from your participation in this study. We anticipate that by studying how people think about the legal issues in the stories in this study, we may be able to help judges and juries make the best possible decisions in real legal cases. There are no anticipated risks to your participating in this research study.

When we have collected complete data from all 600 participants, we will conduct the lottery and notify the winners by e-mail. After the winners responds, we will send a check, payable to the winners, to the winnersí mailing addresses. If we e-mail a winning participant and do not receive a response, we will send two additional messages after 72 hours, and if we do not receive any response to those messages, the winner forfeits the prize and the lottery will be conducted again among the remaining participants. In order for us to be able to notify and pay the lottery winners, you have to enter your e-mail address in the field on the next page, before beginning the study. If you do not submit your e-mail address, you cannot participate in this study. After a prize has been awarded, we will destroy all records of your e-mail address.

Your responses to items in the experiment will be saved in a separate file from your registration information (e-mail address). The file with your responses to items in the study will be used only for data analysis, while the file with your registration information will only be used to notify you should you win the lottery. Thus, during data analysis and when we conduct the lottery, your data set will be identified only by your subject number. After the lottery winner is contacted, all contact information will be destroyed. Only the researchers will have access to registration and data files. The data files that you submit will be stored for 5 years.

Any information that is obtained in connection with this study and that can be identified with you will remain confidential and will be disclosed only with your permission or as required by law. When the results of the research are published or discussed in conferences, no information will be included that would reveal your identity.

You can choose whether to be in this study or not. If you volunteer to be in this study, you may withdraw at any time without consequences of any kind (that is, you still keep your lottery entry; even if you do not participate in the experiment). You may also refuse to answer any questions you don't want to answer and still remain in the study. The investigator may withdraw you from the analysis of this research if circumstances arise which warrant doing so.

If you have any questions or concerns about the research, please feel free to contact: Dr. Stephen Read at

You may withdraw your consent at any time and discontinue participation without penalty. You are not waiving any legal claims, rights, or remedies because of your participation in this research study. If you have any questions regarding your rights as a research subject, contact the University Park IRB, Grace Ford Salvatori Hall, Room 306, Los Angeles, CA 90089-1695, (213) 821-5272 or

By clicking below, I am indicating that I have read and understand the procedures described above. My questions have been answered to my satisfaction, and I agree to participate in this study. I accept this as my copy of this informed consent form and will print it out if I wish to retain a copy. I am at least 18 years of age.