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Experimental Realism

Definition

Experimental realism is the extent to which situations created in social psychology experiments are real and impactful to participants.

Background

The concept of experimental realism was developed in response to criticism that most social psychology experiments take place in artificial laboratory settings and thus are invalid for examining how people truly think and act. In 1968, Elliot Aronson and J. Merrill Carlsmith addressed this concern by distinguishing between reality created in experimental situations and reality encountered outside of the laboratory. They argued that experimental situations that are sufficiently engrossing to participants can elicit psychological states of interest regardless of how similar the experimental events are to everyday events.

Experimental Realism versus Mundane Realism

Aronson and Carlsmith distinguished between experimental realism and mundane realism. Experimental realism refers to the extent ...

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