Experimental and Nonexperimental Designs in Social Psychology

Experimental and Nonexperimental Designs in Social Psychology

Experimental and Nonexperimental Designs in Social Psychology

Experimental and Nonexperimental Designs in Social Psychology

Excerpt

When we do research we are looking for explanations, usually causal explanations -- why did this happen, what caused it to happen? If there is a common thread running through this book, it is that researchers should always be searching for alternative explanations. Whenever we read research reports, whether in journals or public media such as newspapers, we should ask the question, could there be another reason why this event occurred?

We have divided the book into five sections. In section I we will discuss different types of alternative explanations. In section II we will consider experimental designs and why they are particularly useful in eliminating alternative explanations. In section III we will consider alternatives to experimental designs and where their weaknesses lie in eliminating alternative explanations.

There are times when we do not seek to explain, merely to describe. In section IV we will consider survey methods and how systematic collection of information can minimize alternative explanations. Finally, in section V we will describe recent research directions and discuss a method called meta-analysis for integrating and interpreting the results of many different experiments.

When you finish this book you should be a critical consumer of research. You should search for alternative explanations for the results you read in newspapers, magazines, and scientific journals. You may hear people criticize the results of a study because the researchers did not collect the data systematically or in true experimental fashion. Once you have finished this book you should realize that this criticism is not always legitimate.

There are many different ways of collecting information about the world, some more rigorous than others. Rigor itself is not the . . .

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