Mundane realism describes the degree to which the materials and procedures involved in an experiment are similar to events that occur in the real world. Therefore, mundane realism is a type of external validity, which is the extent to which findings can generalize from experiments to real-life settings.

History and Modern Usage

Elliot Aronson and J. Merrill Carlsmith introduced the concept of mundane realism as a potential threat to external validity in 1968. That is, to the extent that procedures are artificial, it may be more difficult to generalize the findings produced by those procedures to the real world. Mundane realism can be contrasted with experimental realism, which refers to whether an experiment has psychological impact and “feels real” to a participant. Both are important for ...

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