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Experiment, Laboratory

James B. Weaver, III


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Research utilizing experimentation (→  Experimental Design ) is undertaken in a variety of contexts and settings. Decisions concerning the circumstances under which to conduct an experiment typically reflect a combination of considerations including the nature of the research question (→  Hypothesis ), the availability of research resources, and the researcher's interest in balancing concerns about the →  validity and the →  generalizability of subsequent findings. Overwhelmingly, the most common setting for experimentation in communication is the laboratory . Laboratory experiments, when effectively operationalized (→  Operationalization ) and carried out, afford strict experimental control by allowing for isolation of the research situation from the variety of extraneous influences that can impact both experimental treatment or intervention (i.e., independent variable) and the subsequent outcome (i.e., dependent variable). Accordingly, laboratory experiments are typically structured on the more rigorous “true experimental designs” and, consequently, yield the strongest evidence of causality ( Wimmer & Dominick 2003 ). An array of locales can be utilized in staging laboratory experiments ranging from general purpose accommodations such as conference rooms, classrooms, lecture halls, and theatres to facilities specifically designed for experimentation. It is the researcher's ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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