Experimental Design - Research Methods

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Independent Groups Design

Participants only take part in 1 condition of the experiment (2 seperate groups)

Random allocation is used to control for participant variables - ensures each participant has the same chance of being in any group


  • use the same resources twice
  • avoids order effects


  • need twice as many participants
  • demand characteristics
  • one group may be better than the other
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Repeated Measures Design

participants take part in both conditions of the experiment (1 group)

Counterbalancing is used to try and control effect of order - half experience conditions in one order and the other group do the same experience in reverse


  • don`t need as many participants
  • controls for participant variables


  • low generalisability - 1 group of people
  • order effects - boredom, fatigue and practise
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Matched Pairs Design

participants are matched in each condition for characteristics that may have an impact on their performance (i.e. memory test score)


  • minimise participant variables
  • doesn`t lead to order effects


  • still individual differences
  • time consuming finding matched participants
  • need more participants (2 groups)
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