Experimental methods

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  • Created by: z_mills1
  • Created on: 12-05-14 17:45
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  • Experimental methods
    • Laboratory experiments
      • controlled situation, researcher manipulates one variable to find its effect on another, all other variables are held constant
      • Advantages
        • effects of extraneous variables are minimised
        • experiment can be easily replicated to check the findings
        • possible to establish whether one variable actually causes change in another
      • Disadvantages
        • demand characteristics - participants may respond accordingly to what they think is being investigated
        • lack of ecological validity - may not measure real-life behaviour
        • ethics - deception is often used, making informed consent difficult
    • Field experiments
      • behaviour is measured in a natural environment - key variable still altered so its effect can be measured
      • Advantages
        • demand characteristics can be avoided if participants don't know they're in a study
        • high ecological validity - less artificial than lab, relate to real-life better
      • Disadvantages
        • extraneous variables are more likely in a natural experiment
        • ethics - participants who didn't agree to take part might experience distress (deception/lack of informed consent)
    • Natural experiments
      • measures variables that aren't directly manipulated by the experimenter
      • Disadvantages
        • can't control extraneous variables which may affect behaviour
        • ethics - can only conduct observations where people may be expecting it
          • limits the possible situations that a natural experiment could be used
      • Advantages
        • ethical - it's possible to study variables that would be unethical to manipulate e.g. victims of abuse (Genie)
        • high ecological validity


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