Generalizability is the degree to which the results of a research study reflect what the results would be “in the real world,” with another sample of participants or with the variables operationalized in other ways. In other words, research results are generalizable when the findings are true generally speaking in most contexts with most people most of the time.

In the classic quantitative research framework of experimental design, researcher design theorists such as Thomas Cook and Donald Campbell have emphasized external validity as a necessary criterion for concluding that research results are generalizable. Threats to external validity include how a sample was selected from the broader target population to which one wishes to generalize, the situational specifics of the experimental manipulations, and the measurement choices made ...

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