Are laboratory experiments useful?
Laboratory experiments are easy to replicate and help to find how the Cause and effect of relationships can be established. Laboratory methods usually have High levels of control over extraneous variables. One of the major strengths of laboratory experiments is, control. The more variables you have control over, the easier it becomes to draw conclusions about the effect of the individual variable on the dependent variable. Laboratory experiments allow for high levels of control which are evident in the study of Bandura, Ross ands Ross (1961), for example, the way that the model produced exactly the same behavior for each child and the fact that each child was observed in the same room with the same toys.
Although laboratory experiments have advantages they also have disadvantages just like any other research method it is never 100% Accurate. The high level of control usually means that you have created an artificial situation which makes it difficult to apply your results to everyday life. This is referred to as low ecological validity and is discussed further below. Participants know that they are taking part in a laboratory experiment and this will affect their behavior in a number of ways. They will be looking for clues as to how to behave (demand characteristics) and they will usually want to help the experimenters by giving them the results that they think they want. Demand characteristics may have had a major affect on the results for example the Loftus and Palmer’s first study. Experiments such Bandura, Ross ands Ross (1961) raise ethical issues for example no information was given in the study about parental consent and it is highly likely that parents would not have consented to their children being subjected to this experience.
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