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This collection brings together literature to inform researchers about the many issues that have influenced and continue to refine the use of experimental designs in the behavioral and social sciences. The collection includes articles, primarily from scholarly journals, that highlight perspectives of recognized leaders on historical, theoretical, methodological, and pragmatic considerations affecting the role of experimental designs within the behavioral and social sciences. The selected articles are problem-focused, include illustrative examples and provide comprehensible input for a broad audience spanning multiple disciplines.

Editor's Introduction: The Search for Causes in the Social and Behavioral Sciences

There is no research design that is more powerful than the experiment. Experimental designs are the gold standard for social and behavioral research because they are the only designs that hold out the promise of straightforward tests of causal relationships. By manipulating a focal “independent” variable while holding other variables constant, experiments allow observations of whether and in what ways this variable influences a measured behavior or social process of interest. The conceptual simplicity of the experiment, coupled with its unparalleled explanatory power, makes this methodology one of the most popular. However, this popularity does not come without complication and controversy – particularly within the behavioral and social sciences. Studying human behavior and ...

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