ALESS Project Ideas

In this section we provide a list of project topic ideas and possible research questions, as well a list of recommended literature. Feel free to refer to this list as necessary, and do not forget to always consult with your ALESS teacher on whether the topic you are thinking of is adequate. 

  1. Ecology/plants 生態学/植物 – How do temperature and salinity affect germination?  
  2.  Plant growth & sound 植物の成長と音の関係 – Does sound influence the growth of plants?
  3. Environment & plant biology 環境と植物生理学 – How does acid rain affect plant germination and growth? For mature plants, what are the effects on foliage?
  4. Plant biology & dispersion 植物生理学と種子分散 – Some plants disperse airborne seeds. What forms do such seeds have, and what are the flight characteristics of such seeds?
  5. Biodiversity 生物多様性 – How do the social and architectural characteristics of neighborhoods influence urban biodiversity?
  6. Biodiversity 生物多様性 – What kind of plant and animal species are present within a particular area? What kind of factors are affecting them and their ecosystem?
  1. Environment/colour 環境/色 – How does colour affect people’s physical and mental states and abilities?What effects on mood etc might different room colour have?
  2. Environment/colour 環境/色 –
    Does colour have meaningful associations (eg red = negative, green = positive)?
  3. Visual perception 視覚認識 –
    How accurately can people judge the centre of two-dimensional shapes? Is it the same for everyone?
  4.  Visual illusions 視覚の幻想 –
    How does a person’s posture or orientation affect the way they see a visual illusion?  
  5. Perception of time 時間の認知 –
    Does perception of time change with age/gender/musical ability etc?
  6. Human behaviour and crowds 人間行動と群集心理 –
    Is behaviour contagious? How do animals and people react to certain behaviour in others? Does changing the number of people looking up at a building influence the number of passers-by who look up?
  7. Choice blindness チョイス・ブラインドネス –
    How do people react when they choose something, but the thing they chose is changed? Do they even notice?
  8. Psychology of reasoning: Logic 推論の心理学:論理 –
    Does people’s ability to test the same logical proposition change with the content, for example changing numbers and colours to shapes or social rules?
    1. Wason ‘Reasoning about a rule’ (1968)
  1. Preservatives 防腐剤 – How effectively do different substances preserve food?  
  2. Preservatives 防腐剤 –
     Are there differences between human and machine-generated random sequences?
  3. Physics and food 食品 –
    What is the most effective way to dunk a biscuit for the longest time without it breaking?
  4. Food science & environment 食物科学と環境 –
    How does humidity affect the textural quality of biscuits?
  1. Refraction 屈折 –  Do density and temperature affect the refractive index of a solution, mixture or substance?  
  2. Bubbles and foam 気泡と泡立ち –
    What affects the generation and decay of bubbles? 
  3. Buoyancy and density 浮力と密度 –
    Can bubbles sink ships? How do bubbles affect buoyancy? 
  4. Coefficient of restitution 復元の係数 –
    How differently do various balls bounce? 
  5. Granules 粒子の動き –
    What affects the formation of patterns in vibrated granules? How does shape and size affect the way that granular materials segregate? How does vibration affect the behaviour of mixtures of different sized particles? 
  6. Modeling impacts 物体が落下する際の衝撃 –
    What happens to the impact pattern of a metal ball when sand size or ball size is changed? 
  7. Antibubbles アンチバブル –
     What are the optimum conditions for the formation and maintenance of antibubbles? 
  8. Supercooling 過冷却 –
    How does previous treatment of water affect its freezing or supercooling? 
  9. Capillarity 毛管現象 –
    What factors affect capillary flow in different materials? 
  1. Detergents and textiles 洗浄剤と織物 – How do detergents perform in different conditions?
  2. Properties of textiles 織物の特性 –
    Do different textiles (eg natural and synthetic fibres) have different thermal characteristics?Do different combinations or ways of layering textiles affect their effectiveness as insulators? 
  3. Materials and packing 原料と包装 –
    How do cardboard boxes buckle and break? 
  4. Textiles and dyes 織物と染料 –
    How does temperature affect dyeing? How well do different materials dye? 
  5. Materials testing 物質の検査 –
    How does the tensile strength of various materials compare? 
  6. Tooth enamel and soft drinks 歯のエナメルとソフトドリンク –
    Which soft drinks lead to most serious bone erosion? 
  1. Nutrition and behaviour 栄養摂取と行動の関係 – How does eating or missing breakfast affect people’s abilities?
  2. Human biology & behaviour ヒューマンバイオロジーと人間の行動 –
    How does stress affect ability to perform spatial tasks? 
  3. Human sensory perception 人間の知覚 –
    How do different groups of people perceive and describe tactile, taste-related, and other sensations (such as ‘creaminess’)? 
  4. Contagious behaviour 伝染行動 –
     Is behaviour contagious? How do people react to certain behaviour (such as yawning) in others? 
  5. Vision and perception ビジョンと知覚 –
    How do conditions (such as brightness) affect ability to perceive colour? 
  6. Human behaviour 人間行動 –
     Does exposure to light affect sleep quality, mood, or working ability? 
  7.  Human perception & environment 人間の知覚·環境 –
    Do temperature and humidity affect human judgements of air quality? 
  8. Human behaviour 人間行動 –
    How are activities like walking and noticing hazards and warnings affected by use of portable music devices/mobile phones?  
  9. Human behaviour 人間行動 –
    Are some shapes/ratios more attractive than others? 
  10. Vision and perception ビジョンと知覚 –
    Colour is often used to attract attention and convey messages (on labels, road signs etc); how does colour affect the perceptions of warning labels? What factors might affect the design, noticing, and perception of effective warnings? 

ALESS Collection Paper Reflections

Below you will find some reflections from ALESS Lab TAs on papers published on the ALESS Collection database. The reflections listed below are meant to exemplify ways of research question design. You can use the information below as a reference when brainstorming ideas for your project. 


This paper brings a mathematical approach to explain how different kinds of fabric absorb or repel liquids. More specifically, the author investigates how fabric thread and weaving patterns influence the water-repellency properties of cloth. For this, Kudo (2020) applies water droplets to different kinds of cloth and, by using an original gadget prepared with an LED lamp and a USB portable microscope, investigates the shape and resilience of the water droplets over time. As a result, the investigation brings empirical evidence for a stronger water-repellency property of cotton woven cloth, while satin or mixed fiber provided a more stable structure for droplets shape maintenance. On the other hand, fabrics composed by acetate or polyester hardly repelled water. 



What I find more surprising and exciting about this paper is how the students used creativity to design a model capable of translating the phenomenon studied. Students in this group used two of the equipment available at ALESS Lab in an original way. They combined the use of a LED lamp and a USB portable microscope to capture high resolution images of the droplets over the fabric. The statistical analysis is also well-thought.


Further ideas

[Idea 1] Limitations correction: the paper suggests two limitations to the experiment design: the proper desiccation of the fabric prior to the experiment, and the amount of water used for the droplets. Further studies following this idea could try to cover those limitations.


[Idea 2] Different independent variable: this time, students investigated how the fabric material would affect the water repellency. Alternatively, future studies could try and investigate the same phenomenon when different kinds of liquids are applied over the fabric. For instance, viscosity and density could be variables to be taken in consideration.



人間は自らの知識や技術を過信してしまうことが知られており(Illusion of Explanatory Depth: IoED)、本研究ではその現象が日本人でも見られるのかどうかを確認した。特に、自転車を駆動させる構造に関する知識の過信を対象に研究を実施した。さらに、上記の過信の度合いを性差や自転車を利用する頻度などの複数の要因で説明できるのではないかと仮説を立てて実験を行った。その結果、日本人でも同様の過信が観測された。一方で、男女差や自転車を利用する頻度などの要因は過信度合いに影響は与えていないことが明らかになった。





Further ideas

「1: なぜ日本人に注目したのかの理由に関して」

今回は日本の学生に注目しましたが、先行研究の実験参加者の属性 (Yale University and the University of Liverpool)と日本の学生は何が違うのか、それによりどんな異なる結果が導かれるのかを予想しておくと、より得られた結果への議論が容易になるのではないのでしょうか。

「2: t検定の繰り返しに関して」

3群以上のデータにおいてt検定を繰り返すと差が出る確率が大きくなってしまいます。そのため、3群以上の統計検定を行う場合は多重比較法を用いるといいでしょう (ANOVAの後に)。

「3: 先行研究と本研究との効果量比較に関して」

先行研究と実験参加者数の違いによる効果の違いを本文で触れていましたが、効果量d (t検定の場合)に注目して効果の大きさを比較すると良いかもしれません。

「4: 実験結果に関して」

大抵の条件で自転車の構造の知識は3点程度 (1: 知識なし-7: 知識あり)が平均スコアでした。そして、正しい知識の授与後は2点程度 (1: 知識なし-7: 知識あり)が平均スコアでした。そのため、元々知識を自分は持っていると考えていない状態とも言えます。そのため、「卵焼きの作り方」や「日本語の文法」など元々知識を自分は持っていると考えやすい対象で実験すると、予想と一致する結果が得られたかもしれません。そして、上記の対象も使用すると男女差で異なった場合の「要因」が見つかりやすくなるかもしれません。


サングラスやブルーライトカットフィルムなど光を遮る目的の商品は様々ある.それらの商品自体にも色がついていて,光を遮る効果はその物体が持つ色に依存する.この研究は,布の色によって,透過する光の強さがどの程度変わったかを定量的に示すことを目的とし,光の持つエネルギーを考えると,波長とBlocking effectは負の相関を持つという仮説を立てた.実験の結果,透過する光の照度という具体的数値が,布の色によって異なることが分かったが,波長との相関は弱かった.布という素材そのものによる吸収が考慮できていないことや,染色の違いなどが影響していると考えられる.



Further ideas:



”透明”という色を含むような素材を使うこと(例:セロファンフィルム):Controlは,no clothやwhiteよりはtransparentのほうが,素材と色の影響を分離できる.


This paper considers the two ways in which English words are written on Japanese texts and studies the effect of English word alignment (Horizontal, vertical rotated and vertical) in legibility of these texts. Participants were shown words on the screen and asked to write down the words that they have read. Results showed that accuracy was highest for “Horizontal” words followed by “Vertical rotated”. “Vertical” alignment was the style that had the hardest legibility.



The author of this paper not only used a very clear writing style that allows the readers to get the big idea easily but also chose a topic that is very relevant in our everyday lives. Though there have been many research about the legibility of words, including font styles and colors, it is very interesting to see that there are still ways in which we can easily conduct experiments at home, especially in this time of confinement. Moreover, the limitations of this paper is clearly identified so it allows further exploration into the topic. 


Further ideas:

There are many ways in which one can “read words”. When we first start reading, we read phonetically (ex. BAG –> B-a-g), sounding out every letter. However, advanced readers and even kids who don’t know their English alphabets yet are able to quickly detect words since they capture the global picture/outline of the word (ex. Family Mart). This second style of reading allows us to read quickly, without processing every single letter. Therefore, we might be able to get statistically significant results if we were to use small letters (instead of capital letters). Small letters vary in size (short letters (ex. a, c, e), tall letters (ex. b,d,h), and letters that go down (ex. g, j, p) unlike capital letters which are all tall letters. The difficulty of reading capital letters may also explain why people made mistakes when “PRIZE” was misread as “PRIDE”. Hence, “prize” and “pride” would have minimized this mistake since “d” is a tall letter.




It would be interesting to see how small letters and capital letters, may interact in the legibility of the words in vertical and vertical rotated. Vertical rotated may be read more accurately and when written in small letters compared to capital letters. Size of letters can be used to enable readers to read more quickly and accurately, while letter size advantage are eliminated when words are written vertically.


This study explores the best way to present rewards. The reinforcement techniques that were considered were: increasing, decreasing, constant and no reward. They asked participants to count the number of balls falling in a movie while giving rewards using different styles in order to examine how the change of rewards affects performance. Participants watched the movie three times. Their results showed that setting a constant reward throughout the three trials minimized the error rates. 



The idea of this project is very interesting since reinforcement and rewards can be applied to many things in our daily life be it in teaching, at work, while playing games, etc. The author did a nice job in supporting and arguing his hypothesis, explained in the Introduction, making a good use of his citations. Moreover, Figure 3 does a very nice job in summarizing the main results of his paper. However, in a real life psychology experiment, it may be ethically incorrect to say that rewards will be given and then not give it to them. This may have indirectly affected the participant’s performance since friends of friends will find out. Overall, though, the results of this paper is very interesting and applicable in our daily life.  


Further ideas:


While reading this paper, one of my biggest concern was that the “number of balls in the movie was increasing in order to prevent [the participants] from doing well only due to becoming accustomed to the game” (p. 26). It is well argued except for the fact that they forgot to consider: 1) how this may affect the error rate, and 2) fatigue effect. First, the more balls in the trial, the %error will be smaller for one missed ball. Second, while doing such a simple task like this one, a player can get bored and unmotivated, despite the reward. Given that the third trial was the hardest and most cognitively demanding, some participants may doze off while others would try extra hard. This can increase individual differences. Therefore, it might be interesting to try to do this experiment with another type of game, taking into consideration this limitation. Moreover, conclusions would be more convincing if more trials can be added when talking about trend.


Opening Times

Mon: 12:00pm – 13:00pm
Tue: 12:00pm – 15:00pm
Wed: 12:00pm – 15:00pm
Thu: 12:00pm – 17:00pm
(except holidays)


ALESS Lab Manager

Dr. Diego Tavares Vasques