Laboratory Experiments in the Social Sciences

Laboratory Experiments in the Social Sciences, 2nd Edition

Laboratory Experiments in the Social Sciences, 2nd Edition,Murray Webster,Jane Sell,ISBN9780124046818

Webster   &   Sell   

Academic Press




229 X 152

This second edition reference offers psychologists and researchers in social science an overview of which laboratory experiments answer various research questions, and how to set the experiments up and analyze results.

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Key Features

  • Provides a comprehensive summary of issues in social science experimentation, from ethics to design, management, and financing
  • Offers "how-to" explanations of the problems and challenges faced by everyone involved in social science experiments
  • Pays attention to both practical problems and to theoretical and philosophical arguments
  • Defines commonalities and distinctions within and among experimental situations across the social sciences


While there are many books available on statistical analysis of data from experiments, there is significantly less available on the design, development, and actual conduct of the experiments. Laboratory Experiments in the Social Sciences summarizes how to design and conduct scientifically sound experiments, be they from surveys, interviews, observations, or experimental methods. The book encompasses how to collect reliable data, the appropriate uses of different methods, and how to avoid or resolve common problems in experimental research. Case study examples illustrate how multiple methods can be used to answer the same research questions and what kinds of outcome would result from each methodology.  Sound data begins with effective data collection. This book will assist students and professionals alike in sociology, marketing, political science, anthropology, economics, and psychology.


The book will be used in methods classes and for work in social science laboratories in sociology, marketing, political science, anthropology, economics, and psychology.

Murray Webster

Affiliations and Expertise

Department of Sociology, University of North Carolina, USA

Jane Sell

Affiliations and Expertise

Department of Sociology, Texas A&M University, College Station, USA

Laboratory Experiments in the Social Sciences, 2nd Edition

  • Dedication
  • Preface
  • Part I: Designing and Conducting Experiments
    • Introduction
    • Chapter 1: Why Do Experiments?
      • Abstract
      • I A brief history of experiments
      • II Comparisons to other designs used in social science research
      • III Advantages and disadvantages of experiments
      • IV Steps in conducting experimental research
      • V The place of experiments in social science
      • VI How this book can help
    • Chapter 2: Ethics and Experiments
      • Abstract
      • I Introduction
      • II Defining ethics in research
      • III Ethical issues in laboratory experiments
      • IV Meeting regulatory requirements
      • V Conclusions
      • Acknowledgments
    • Chapter 3: Logical and Philosophical Foundations of Experimental Research in the Social Sciences
      • Abstract:
      • I Introduction
      • II Clues to causation
      • III Mill’s canons and inferring causality
      • IV Fisher’s solution and hallmarks of experimentation
      • V Fisher’s premature burial and posthumous resurrection
      • VI Simple designs and threats to internal validity
      • VII Using experimental design to resolve problems of internal validity
      • VIII Varieties of experiments in the social sciences
      • IX External validity and artificiality
      • X Conclusion
      • Acknowledgments
    • Chapter 4: Training Interviewers and Experimenters
      • Abstract
      • I Introduction
      • II Preliminaries
      • III Experiments as theater
      • IV Preparing the assistant for the role
      • V Training for specific tasks
      • VI Compensation
      • VII Experimental staff as a group
      • VIII Training for postsession interviews
      • IX Establishing a mentor role
      • X Concluding remarks
      • Acknowledgments
    • Chapter 5: Human Participants in Laboratory Experiments in the Social Sciences
      • Abstract
      • I Introduction
      • II Human participants in psychology
      • III Participants in sociology
      • IV Participants in political science
      • V Conclusion
    • Chapter 6: Developing Your Experiment
      • Abstract
      • I Introduction
      • II Designing the experiment
      • III “The gender experiment”: a practical example of abstract considerations
      • IV Pretesting and pilot testing
      • V Analyzing and interpreting data
      • VI Summary
      • Acknowledgments
    • Chapter 7: Common Problems and Solutions in Experiments
      • Abstract
      • I Introduction
      • II Relations with the larger department or program
      • III Experimental manipulations and deception
      • IV Experimental design issues
      • V Running experiments using confederates
      • VI Developing procedures
      • VII Pretesting
      • VIII Video recording
      • IX Maintaining a subject pool
      • X Payment and credit issues
      • XI Experimenter effects
  • Part II: Experiments across the Social Sciences
    • Introduction
    • Chapter 8: Laboratory Experiments in Sociology
      • Abstract
      • I Introduction
      • II Effect experiments
      • III Effect research programs
      • IV Theoretically oriented experiments
      • V Theoretical research programs
      • VI Assessment
      • VII Challenge: the external validity of experiments that test theories
    • Chapter 9: Experiments on Exchange Relations and Exchange Networks in Sociology
      • Abstract
      • I Introduction
      • II Background and development
      • III Standard settings and designs
      • IV Technological developments
      • V Examples of exchange experiments
      • VI Assessment and future prospects
    • Chapter 10: Social Dilemma Experiments in Sociology, Psychology, Political Science, and Economics
      • Abstract
      • I Introduction
      • II Different kinds of social dilemmas
      • III Rejection of the strong free-riding hypothesis
      • IV Testing payoff properties
      • V What group members know about each other
      • VI New directions and new strategies
    • Chapter 11: Hypotheses, Operationalizations, and Manipulation Checks
      • Abstract
      • I Introduction
      • II Hypotheses
      • III The experiment
      • IV Operationalizations and manipulations
      • V On particular features
      • VI Further Comments on Operationalizations
      • VII Manipulation checks
      • VIII Further comments on manipulation checks
      • IX Summary and conclusions
      • Acknowledgments
    • Chapter 12: The Standardized Experimental Situation in Expectation States Research: Notes on History, Uses, and Special Features
      • Abstract
      • I Introduction
      • II On the construction of SES
      • III The graph formulation of status characteristic theory
      • IV Uses and special features of SES
      • V Concluding comments
      • Appendix
      • Acknowledgments
    • Chapter 13: Experimental Political Science
      • Abstract
      • I Introduction
      • II Historical development
      • III Recent examples
      • IV Assessment and challenges
      • V Potentials for future work
      • VI Challenges
      • VII Conclusions
    • Chapter 14: Voting and Agenda Setting in Political Science and Economics
      • Abstract:
      • I Introduction
      • II The canonical experiment
      • III Equilibrium and disequilibrium
      • IV Agendas
      • V Asymmetric relations
      • VI Equilibrium and disequilibrium, redux
      • Acknowledgments
    • Chapter 15: Economic Games for Social Scientists
      • Abstract
      • I Introduction
      • II Methodology
      • III Discussion and conclusion
      • Acknowledgments
    • Chapter 16: Solving Coordination Problems Experimentally
      • Abstract
      • I Introduction
      • II Background and development
      • III Design and implementation of coordination experiments in economics
      • IV Technological developments
      • V Examples
      • VI Assessment
      • Acknowledgments
    • Chapter 17: Experimental Studies of Media Stereotyping Effects
      • Abstract
      • I Introduction
      • II Key concepts
      • III Theoretical advances
      • IV Methodological advances
      • V Implications for new media and future directions
    • Chapter 18: Judgment and Decision-Making
      • Abstract
      • I Introduction
      • II The evolution of JDM research
      • III Research on critical decision elements
      • IV Effects of judgment heuristics
      • V Effects of task and cognitive constraints
      • VI Deeper foundations of JDM processes
      • VII Summary and conclusions
      • Acknowledgments
    • Chapter 19: Experiments in Organizational Behavior
      • Abstract
      • I Introduction
      • II Unethical behavior in organizations
      • III Conclusion
  • Part III: Applied Research and Proposals
    • Introduction
    • Chapter 20: Conducting Applied Experimental Research
      • Abstract
      • I Conducting applied experimental research
      • II Basic and applied research
      • III The role of theory in applied experimental research
      • IV Developing a proposal and generating funding for applied experimental research
      • V Conducting applied experimental research
      • VI Presenting research results
      • VII Summary
    • Chapter 21: Funding Experiments, Writing Proposals
      • Abstract
      • I Why write a proposal?
      • II Special problems of experimental research in the social sciences
      • III The structure of research funding; roles and role behaviors and some terms
      • IV Research programs and proposals
      • V Preparation for Writing a Proposal
      • VI Sections of proposals
      • VII Some tips on proposal preparation and writing styles
      • VIII Some stylistic suggestions
      • IX What happens next?
      • X Successful and unsuccessful proposals
      • Acknowledgments
  • Index

Quotes and reviews

"...the strongest part of this book were the chapters on methodology and on experimental implementation. The methodological discussions and concepts were excellent...and the advice for implementation covered quite a lot of ground."
--Rachol Croson, University of Texas at Dallas in Journal of Economic Psychology, 2008

"...this is a long-awaited volume, which will serve many social scientists well into the future as a guide to experimentation in a very pragmatic sense."
Contemporary Sociology, 37,6
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