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Using Laboratory Experiments to Understand Political Behavior: Avoiding Pitfalls and Understanding Internal Validity

Case
By: Published: 2019 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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Abstract

Laboratory experiments using human participants are a cornerstone of studying human social behavior, but their use is less common in political science. That being said, the use of experiments is on the rise within the discipline, including experiments conducted in controlled laboratory settings. This case study is intended to generate discussion around the unique challenges in laboratory experiments with human participants and confederates. There herein described experiment examined the proclivity of participants to conform to a group’s opinion on a contentious and identity-laden topic. By reading about the experiment’s design and lessons learned throughout implementation, students will discuss the use of deception in research, challenges with using human participants and confederates, and how threats to internal validity can creep into even carefully designed experiments.

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