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Example of a field experiment - Piliavin et al, 1969 A victim collapses on the subway

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Introduction

FIELD EXPERIMENTS Meaning: A field experiment means conducting a scientific experiment in naturally occurring environments, rather than in the laboratory. Method: Field experiments are conducted in natural environments with researchers manipulating the variables. Participants are drawn from random samples and divided into treatment and control groups. The findings for each group are compared. Pros: 1. Since people do not know they are participating in an experiment, demand characteristics are avoided ? people do not alter their behavior to affect the outcome. ...read more.

Middle

This is because the researcher cannot control the external environment and must deal with confounding variables ? extraneous variables that have an unintended effect on the dependent variable. 2. The cost of field experiments is often high; they tend to be very expensive. 3. The mortality rate ? the rate of participants who drop out of the experiment before it is completed ? may be high because they are unaware that an experiment is being conducted. ...read more.

Conclusion

The victim is either a black man or a white man acting as if he is drunk in one condition. In the second condition, the victim is sober, but is carrying a cane and is unsteady on his feet. Two female observers record what happens. The independent variables are: Drunk or cane Black or White Early, Late or No model Model initially sitting in the critical area or adjacent area. The number of people on the train. The Dependent variables are: The time taken to help. The race of the helper. The percentage of trials in which passengers (subjects) left the critical area. The number of comments made. ...read more.

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