“This book is a must for learning about the experimental design–from forming a research question to interpreting the results this text covers it all.” –Sarah El Sayed, University of Texas at Arlington Designing Experiments for the Social Sciences: How to Plan, Create, and Execute Research Using Experiments is a practical, applied text for courses in experimental design. The text assumes that students have just a basic knowledge of the scientific method, and no statistics background is required. With its focus on how to effectively design experiments, rather than how to analyze them, the book concentrates on the stage where researchers are making decisions about procedural aspects of the experiment before interventions and treatments are given. Renita Coleman walks readers step-by-step on how to plan and execute experiments from the beginning by discussing choosing and collecting a sample, creating the stimuli and questionnaire, doing a manipulation check or pre-test, analyzing the data, and understanding and interpreting the results. Guidelines for deciding which elements are best used in the creation of a particular kind of experiment are also given. This title offers rich pedagogy, ethical considerations, and examples pertinent to all social science disciplines.

Stimuli and Manipulation Checks

Look for a large object rather than a small one.1

—R. Barker Bausell

Learning Objectives

  • Explain how stimuli represent categories of theoretical interest.
  • Create realistic stimuli.
  • Judge variables that need to be controlled in the stimuli versus those that should be controlled statistically.
  • Design stimuli that maximize comparisons and employ message variance.
  • Define fixed and random factors.
  • Produce a report that details the stimuli and manipulation check of an experiment.

The heart of any experiment is the stimulus. This is also the fun part. Experimentalists seldom define the term stimulus, instead relying on the dictionary definition of it as something that causes a response or reaction.2 For example, Freud called a stimulus a motivating force, mirroring the dictionary definition.3 The most common usage of the term is likely in ...

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