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    Beyond experiments

    Diener, E. and Northcott, Robert and Zyphur, M. and West, S. (2022) Beyond experiments. Perspectives on Psychological Science 17 (4), pp. 1101-1119. ISSN 1745-6916.

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    It is often claimed that only experiments can support strong causal inferences and therefore they should be privileged in the behavioral sciences. We disagree. Overvaluing experiments results in their overuse both by researchers and decision-makers, and in an underappreciation of their shortcomings. Neglecting other methods often follows. Experiments can suggest whether X causes Y in a specific experimental setting; however, they often fail to elucidate either the mechanisms responsible for an effect, or the strength of an effect in everyday natural settings. In this paper, we consider two overarching issues. First, experiments have important limitations. We highlight problems with: external, construct, statistical conclusion, and internal validity; replicability; and with conceptual issues associated with simple X-causes-Y thinking. Second, quasi-experimental and non-experimental methods are absolutely essential. As well as themselves estimating causal effects, these other methods can provide information and understanding that goes beyond that provided by experiments. A research program progresses best when experiments are not treated as privileged but instead are combined with these other methods.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Robert Northcott
    Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2021 09:29
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:11


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