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Experimental Research Designs

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By scheek555
Words 624
Pages 3
Psychologists use a number of different scientific methods to conduct research on social psychology topics. These methods allow researchers to test hypotheses and theories and look for relationships between different variables.

Both correlational and experimental research designs have its advantages and disadvantages. Another decision in designing research concerns where the study should be conducted: in a field setting or in a laboratory.

Correlational Research

Social psychologists use correlational research to look for relationships between variables. For example, a social psychology might carry out a correlational study looking at the relationship between workplace violence and aggression. Conducting surveys, directly observing behaviors, or compiling research from earlier studies are some of the methods used to gather data for correlational research. While this type of study can help determine if two variables have a relationship, it does not allow researchers to determine if one variable causes changes in another variable.

Experimental Research

Experimental research is the key to uncovering causal relationships between variables. In experimental research, the experimenter randomly assigns participants to one of two groups: (1) the control group; and (2) the experimental group. The control group receives no treatment and serves as a baseline. Researchers manipulate the levels of some independent variable in the experimental group and then measure the effects. Since, researchers are able to control the independent variables, experimental research can be used to find causal relationships between variables.

Field Versus Laboratory Settings

The bulk of social psychological research relies on experimentation and two-thirds of all experimental studies occur in the lab (e.g., Taylor, Peplau, & Sears, 2006). Social psychologists often speak of...

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