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The Experiments
Laboratory
Experiment
Usually only examine one
specific aspect
The comparative Designed to discover cause-and-
Carried out in the mindeffect relationships
Field Experiments
method ·
· Takes place in the
of the sociologist
· Does not involve the subjects natural
researcher actually surroundings
experimenting on real · Not aware that
people they are the
subjects of the
experiment…read more

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Favoured by Positivists
Achieves their main goal of reliability
Careful control over experimental conditions
Experimenter detachments
Produces reliable data ­ other researchers can replicate the
data
Allows the researcher to identify and measure behaviour
patterns quantitively
Manipulate variables to establish cause-and-effect
relationships…read more

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Positivist Problems
Often impossible/ unethical to control variables
Small scale
Results may not be representative/ generalisable
Use the comparative method instead…read more

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Interpretivists Reject it
Fails to achieve their main goal of validity
Artificial situation producing unnatural behaviour
Favour more naturalistic field experiments
Positivists criticise ­ reduces control over variables…read more

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Advantages and Weaknesses
Advantages Weaknesses
Highly reliable Cannot be used to study the past
Detached method Only study small samples ­ can't get a
bigger picture ­ reduces their
representativeness
Identifies cause-and-effect Slight ethical problems
relationships
Artificial/ unnatural behaviour would
take place in these conditions
Human behaviour cannot be explained
in terms of cause-and-effect…read more

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