Research Methods

  • Created by: I_H
  • Created on: 26-05-18 15:53

Lab Experiments

Conducted in an enivronment where the variables are carefully controlled. Participants are aware that they are taking part in a study, but don't always know the aims of the study. Laboratory studies can be conducted in a non-experimental way e.g. as an observation.

  • It is easy to replicate the study because it is so carefully controlled - high in reliability
  • High in internal validity as the researcher can be sure that the effects of the IV are in fact due to the DV
  • Low in ecological validity because the lab setting is not reflective of everyday life or the IV or DV may not be reflective of tasks we do in everyday life either
  • Demand characteristics might occur
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Field Experiment

A controlled experiment conducted outside a lab. The IV is still manipulated by the researcher but in a setting which is more 'ordinary'. Participants are usually unaware that they are participating in an experiment.

  • They are high in ecological validity and mundane realism because the setting is generalisable to real-life
  • There may be ethical issues such as spying and lack of informed consent if the participants do not know they are taking part.
  • The researcher has little control over extraneous and confounding variables which may affect the findings of their research.
  • The IV may still lack realism, so it is not neccessarily higher in ecological validity than a lab experiment.
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Natural Experiments

The IV is naturally occuring and therefore not manipulated by the researcher for ethical or practical reasons.

  • It allows researchers to study in depth, things that would otherwise be unethical.
  • Generally high ecological validity because the IV is realistic.
  • Generally no issue of demand characteristics.
  • Cannot demonstrate causal relationships because the IV is not deliberately manipulated.
  • Iv may only be a confounding variable, therefore has low internal validty.
  • Ethical issues - lack of informed consent, privacy and confidentiality.
  • Can be difficult and time consuming.
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Quasi Experiments

The IV is not something that varies at all, it is merely something that exists e.g. gender or locus of control. For this reason, they are "almost" experiments.

  • Allow for comparisons to be made between different types of people.
  • Not time consuming because the difference in condition merely exists.
  • The DV may be fairly artifical tasks, reducing ecological validity.
  • Can only be used where IV occurs naturally.
  • Demand characteristics more likely to occur.
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