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Experimental Design

CHAPTER OBJECTIVES
Distinguish between causal and correlational analysis
Explain the difference between lab and field experiments.
Explain the following terms: nuisance variables, manipulation,
experimental and control groups, treatment effect, matching and
randomization.
Discuss internal and external validity in experimental designs.
Discuss the seven possible threats to internal validity in experimental
designs.
Describe the different types of experimental designs.
Experimental designs fall into two categories:

Experiments done in an artificial or contrived


environment, known as lab experiments, and

Experiments done in the natural environment in


which activities regularly take place, known as the
field experiment.
Experimental designs
are set up to examine possible cause and effect
relationships among variables.
Correlational studies examine the relationships among
variables without necessarily trying to establish if one
variable causes another.
To establish that variable X causes variable Y, all three of the
following conditions should be met:
Both X and Y should covary (when one goes up, the other should
also go up or down).
X (the presumed causal factor) should precede Y. In other words,
there must be a time sequence in which the two occur.
No other factor should possibly cause the change in the dependent
variable Y.
LAB EXPERIMENTS
When a cause-and-effect relationship between an independent and
a dependent variable of interest is to be clearly established, then all
other variables that might contaminate or confound the relationship
have to be tightly controlled so that the actual causal effects of the
investigated independent variable on the dependent variable can be
determined.
It is also necessary to manipulate the independent variable so that
the extent of its causal effects can be established.
The controls and manipulations are best done in an artificial setting
(the laboratory), where the causal effects can be tested.
When controls and manipulations are introduced to establish cause-
and-effect relationships in an artificial setting, we have laboratory
experimental designs or lab experiments.
When we assume cause-and-effect relationships between two
variables X and Y, it is possible that some other factor, say A, might
also influence the dependent variable Y.
In such a case, it will not be possible to determine the extent to
which Y occurred only because of X, since we do not know how
much of the total variation of Y was caused by the presence of the
other factor A.
So we have to control the contaminating factor, A.
MANIPULATION OF INDEPENDENT VARIABLE
In order to examine the causal effects of an independent variable on
a dependent variable, certain manipulations need to be tried.
Manipulation means that we create different levels of the
independent variable to assess the impact on the dependent
variable.
EX:We want to test the effects of lighting on worker production levels
among sewing machine operators