External validity refers to the extent to which research findings from one study generalize to or across groups of people, settings, treatments, and time periods. In other words, to what extent does the size or direction of a researched relationship remain stable in other contexts and among different samples? In an effort to measure precise effect sizes and control for confounding variables, many scholars use survey methods featuring hypothetical or retrospective reports, whereas others examine communication phenomena in sterile research labs. In addition, the findings of many social scientific studies are based on the responses of convenience samples consisting of college students and volunteers. While these studies contribute to the growing body of communication scholarship, concerns about their results’ applicability to broader, more ...
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