Nonexperimental designs are research methods that lack the hallmark features of experiments, namely manipulation of independent variables and random assignment to conditions. The gold standard for scientific evidence in social psychology is the randomized experiment; however, there are many situations in social psychology in which randomized experiments are not possible or would not be the preferred method for data collection. Many social psychological variables cannot be manipulated, or ethics would keep one from doing so. For example, a researcher cannot randomly assign people to be in a relationship or not or to stay in a relationship for a long versus short period of time. Similarly, research participants cannot be randomly assigned to be male or female, homosexual or heterosexual, or Black or White. Therefore, the ...

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