Field Experiments

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Field experiments are carried out in a real life setting and the participants are usually unaware they are taking part. The researcher can therefore be sure they are witnessing real life behaviour however as it is a natural setting there is low control over extraneous variables. Field experiments have a clear IV and DV.

Examples of studies

  • ·         Piliavin (AS) – Set in the New York subway.
  • ·         Rosenhan (AS) – Hospital setting with real nurses and patients.
  • ·         Mann (A2) – Video clips of real life interviews.
  • ·         Fisher & Gieselman (A2) – Real officers using the cognitive interview technique.

Similarities between field experiments and lab experiments

P – Both have a clear IV and DV.

E – Piliavin, victim type (black/white, drunk/lame) and if someone helps or not.

E – Castellow, attractive victim/defendant and guilty or not guilty verdict.

C – More useful as it clearly shows causation.

P – Both can raise ethical issues.

E – Rosenhan, patients showed signs of distress from being watched.

E – Bandura, children were displayed to aggressive behaviour which may have caused distress.

C – Distress can influence…


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