Structure and principles of experiment planning - General Psychological Workshop

Structure and principles of experiment planning

In order not to get confused in words and notation and use the same terms to describe a variety of experiments, the researchers introduced special notations for the alleged cause and for events that are the consequences of these causes, as well as for various other influences during the experiment .

The expected reason for the occurrence of an event or change is called an independent variable. An independent variable is the change in the experimental situation that depends on the researcher himself; this is the influence on the subject that the researcher provides to find out whether it leads to the onset of events or changes of interest to it. In the example of the independent variable considered earlier, the state of the air in the room (fresh in it or stuffy), which, according to the researcher's assumption, should influence the quality of the solution of problems, and which the researcher himself can manage.

An implied event-consequence, which can change under the action of an independent variable (in this example - the quality of the solution of problems) is called a dependent variable. The dependent variable is those changes in the experimental situation that do not depend on the researcher directly, but which can take place under the action of an independent variable. It is these changes that interest the researcher. The stuffiness in the room can affect many other processes - for example, on feeling thirsty, on mood worsening, etc., but they are not dependent variables in this study, because the researcher is not interested in the mood or body sensations of the subjects, but their ability to solve tasks.

The task of the researcher is not to change the dependent variable, but to measure it.

The hypothesis of experimental research is an assertion about how an independent variable affects the dependent variable. The hypothesis in the example with stuffiness assumes that the stuffiness in the room will lead to a deterioration in the quality of the solution of problems in comparison with the quality of the solution in a well-ventilated room.

In addition to these mandatory variables in the experimental study, there are others. Thus, in the example of solving problems, subjects vary in age and sex. If we take into account that on average the girls solve the task of anagram better, and the boys solve the arithmetical problems, the final success of solving problems will depend not only on the state of the air in the room, but also on the ratio of girls to boys, and also on the type of tasks they decided. Speaking in the language of the theory of experiment, these are two other variables that affect the dependent variable. If the researcher knows about their influence and controls this influence, then such variables are called additional ones. These are variables that knowingly affect the dependent variable and are controlled by the researcher.

If the researcher does not know about the influences that (besides an independent variable) lead to a change in the dependent variable, then he can not control such influences. Such influences are called secondary variables. These are variables that affect the dependent variable and are not controlled by the researcher.

The side variables are the most unpleasant for the researcher group of variables. Their danger lies in the fact that the researcher, making a conclusion about the causal relationship between the independent and dependent variable, can at all guess that the cause of the change in the dependent variable is not an independent variable at all, but some unaccounted for influence. For example, in a study with the influence of stuffiness, it could turn out that all subjects before they went to the study were poisoned in the local dining room, their stomachs ached, and this prevented them from concentrating on tasks. In this case, the researcher does not even know that in fact the deterioration in solving problems is not due to stuffiness, but poisoning, and will make false conclusions, will deceive himself and deceive others.

So, all the immeasurable amount of influences and factors that the researcher must control when planning and implementing an experimental study can be divided into four types according to four types of variables. When planning an experiment, the researcher must very clearly define what his independent and dependent variables are and how they are related. In addition, it must identify all possible factors and impacts that, together with or independent of the independent variable, can affect the change of the dependent variable, and control them. For more successful experiment planning, it is necessary to take into account some more information about the variables.

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