Experimental Research Designs

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  • The defining characteristic of such research designs is control (i.e., purposeful manipulation) of the independent variable(s). The strongest experimental designs also have random assignment of participants to treatment and control groups. In experiments, researchers do something to the research participants (they intervene, administer a treatment, or modify an environment), and they examine the results of this activity. They do not simply observe or ask questions.

    In a simple design, participants are randomly assigned to an experimental group or a control group. Random assignment is crucial because it makes the groups equivalent (within the limits of probability) at the beginning of the experiment. It is also important that experimenters control the treatment so that they know its nature, size, and timing. The experimental group receives the treatment, ...

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