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Experimental Research Neuman and Robson, Ch. 9. Introduction Experiments are part of the traditional science model Involve taking “action” and observing.

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Presentation on theme: "Experimental Research Neuman and Robson, Ch. 9. Introduction Experiments are part of the traditional science model Involve taking “action” and observing."— Presentation transcript:

1 Experimental Research Neuman and Robson, Ch. 9

2 Introduction Experiments are part of the traditional science model Involve taking “action” and observing consequences of this action Can collect data using rigorous control A good example is Albert Bandura’s Bobo doll study: “Transmission of Aggression Through Imitation of Aggressive Models” (1961) Click on the following link to read this classic paper:

3 Topics Appropriate for Experiments Excellent for hypothesis testing For explanatory research Small group interaction Two types: Laboratory settings (traditional) Used in psychology Natural settings (field experiments) More typical in sociology

4 The classical experiment Three pairs of components Independent and dependent variables IV is manipulated DV is observed for change Pre-testing and post-testing To compare variation in DV before and after treatment Experimental and control groups Experimental group receives “treatment” and is compared to control group (no treatment

5 The Double-Blind Experiment Neither researchers or subjects know who is experimental group “blinding the study” To reduce experimental bias

6 Selecting Subjects Generalizability important Probability sampling where possible Random assignment essential to ensure no difference between experimental and control groups Sometimes “matching” used Individuals are matched on important characteristics Problem of “volunteer” subjects

7 The Classical Design and Variations “Pre-experimental” Designs (no random assignment A. One shot case study B. One group pre-test-post-test design C. Static group comparison “True Experimental” Designs (random assignment) D. Pretest-Post-test control group design E. Post-test only control group design F. Solomon Four-Group design

8 “Pre-experimental” Designs No random assignment used A. One shot case study: T x (IV) Obs (DV) B. One group pre-test-post-test design: Obs 1 T x Obs 2 C. Static group comparison: Exp. Grp.T x Obs Ctrl. Grp.Obs

9 “True Experimental” Designs Use random assignment D. Pretest-Post-test control group design (classical experimental design): Exp.Obs 1 T x Obs 2 Ctrl. Obs 1 Obs 2 E. Post-test only control group design Exp. T x Obs Ctrl. Obs

10 “True Experimental” Designs (cont.) F. Solomon Four-Group design (Bandura’s Design): Exp.Obs 1 T x Obs 2 Ctrl. Obs 1 Obs 2 Exp. T x Obs 2 Ctrl. Obs 2

11 Problems of Internal Validity Is change in DV actually caused by IV? A. Problems concerning Subjects 1. Selection bias 2. Experimental Mortality 3. Rivalry 4. Demoralization

12 Problems (cont.) B. Problems with experimental procedure 1. Testing 2. Instrumentation 3. Causal time order 4. Diffusion 5. Compensation to control group C. Problems with time History Maturation

13 Other Problems in Experimental Research Interaction of selection and other factors Problem of statistical regression External validity or generalizability Hawthorne Effect Modelling Effect Sample problems Volunteers vs non-volunteers

14 The Hawthorne Effect: The Hawthorne effect – refers to change in behaviour produced by the “stimulus” of being singled out and made to feel important during the experimental process. First observed at Hawthorne plant in Illinois during series of experiments on effects of lighting on worker productivity Explanation for increase provided by Professor Elton Mayo (“founder” of human relations theory)

15 The Hawthorne Experiments Four experiments: A. Used Three experimental groups and no control group. Found productivity increased when lighting improved. B. Experimental and control group used. Experimental group had increased lighting. Both groups showed increased productivity. C. Experimental and control group used. Experimental group had decreased lighting. Both groups showed increased productivity. D. Two women studied under varying lighting conditions. Subjects increased productivity according to which lighting conditions (more or less) researchers said were “good”

16 Strengths and Weaknesses of Experimental Design Strengths Establishing causality Control Longitudinal research Replication Weaknesses Artificiality Experimenter effect Sample size

17 The Field Experiment Used in sociology Natural setting Uses statistical control For an excellent example of a field experiment, click link below to read a summary of “The Impact of Television: A Longitudinal Canadian Study” by Tannis Macbeth Williams

18 Strengths and Weakness of Field Experiments Strengths Takes place in “real world” Very good generalizability Weaknesses Lack of internal validity Difficult to establish causality Time consuming Subject to researcher bias


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