Experiments1

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EXPERIMENTS: PART 1
Overview



Experimental versus observational research
Variables
Designs
 Between-group
 Within-subject
 Similarities
and differences
 Mixed-model
Background on Experiments


Study where a researcher systematically manipulates
one variable in order to examine its effect(s) on one or
more other variables
Two components
Includes two or more conditions
 Participants are randomly assigned by the researcher



Random = Equal odds of being in any particular condition
Examples
People with GAD randomly assigned to three treatments so
the researchers can examine which one best reduces anxiety
 Students assigned to a “mortality salience” or control
condition so the research can examine the impact on “war
support”

Variables

Independent Variable
 Manipulated
by the researcher
 Typically categorical
 Also called a “factor” that has “levels”
 Factor
= Type of anxiety treatment
 Level = CBT (or Psychodynamic or Control)

Dependent Variable
 Outcome
variable that is presumably influenced by
(depends on the effects of) the independent variable
 Behavior frequencies, mood, attitudes, symptoms
 Typically continuous
Variables

Confounds (extraneous variables, 3rd variables)
 Happens
when unwanted differences (age, gender,
researchers, environments, etc.) across experimental
conditions
 Plan: Think of potential confounds up front
 Control
for them methodologically
 Measure them to examine whether they have an effect
 Control for them statistically
Experimental Designs

Three main designs
 Between-group
design
 Also
called a “between-subjects design,” or “randomized
controlled trial” (if clinically focused)
 Within-subject
 Also
design
called a “repeated-measures design”
 Mixed-model
 Combines
design
both of the above
Between-group Design


IV: 2 or more randomly-assigned groups of people
DV: Usually a continuous variable
Within-subject Design


Any time that a study assess participants on the DV
on more than one occasion
Example: Participants go through more than one
experimental condition
■
Control
Pill
Control
Pill
Similarities

Uses the same type of analyses
 p-values
obtained from t-tests (if two conditions) or
F-tests/ANOVA (if more than two conditions)
 Is
the result statistically significant, reliable, trustworthy?
 Cohen’s
d used to compute effect size
 Tells
the number of standard deviations by which two groups
differ (kind of like r but on a scale from -∞ to ∞)
Effect
r
r2
d
Small
≥ .1
≥ .01
≥ 0.2
Medium
≥ .3
≥ .09
≥ 0.5
Large
≥ .5
≥ .25
≥ 0.8
Cohen’s d

Calculator
 http://www.psychmike.com/calculators.php
 Usually
use the first formula, requires M, SD, and n
 Can calculate by hand with a simple formula, but it doesn’t
account for differences in sample size across conditions, so
less accurate
 d = ( M 1  M 2 ) = (Mean difference) / standard deviation
s
s
= average standard deviation across groups
Calculation Example: Does athletic
involvement improve physical health?
Report
54. Physical Health
7. High School Athlete
no
yes
Total
Mean
6.4720
6.7543
6.6367
N
125
175
300
Std. Deviation
1.87331
1.94232
1.91578
M1 = 6.47
M2 = 6.75
s = (1.87+1.94) / 2 = 1.91
d = (6.47 – 6.75) / 1.91 = -0.28 / 1.91 = -0.15 = 0.15
weak effect!
+/- sign is arbitrary, so
usually just dropped
2014 article in Lancet (impact factor: 45.2)
Take-home from the abstract:
Differences


Between-group design required when it is impossible or
impractical to put participants through more than one
condition
Within-subject design is more powerful
More likely to get significant p-value and bigger effect
sizes. Why? It allows each participant to serve as their own
control, canceling out a lot of cross-participant variability
 Between-group design requires more people


Within-subject design is prone to ordering effects
(order of conditions can effect results), such as
progressive effects, or carryover effects

Solution: Counterbalancing
Mixed-model Design

Many different types, but requires
 Random
assignment of people to different groups
 Repeated measurement of dependent variable over
time


Benefits of both designs
Example: Pre-post between-group design
Experimental Group:
pretest
Control Group:
pretest
Treatment
posttest
posttest
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