Why Do Experiments? Chapter uri icon


  • © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Laboratory experiments in social science developed most rapidly in the years since the end of World War II, fostered by the growth of technology for observation and recording. Experiments offer powerful advantages for testing predictions, although their advantages and proper uses, and relations to other kinds of research designs, still are not well understood by many social scientists. Experiments are most useful when investigating predictions derived from explicit theories, and it is theories, rather than experimental results, that are properly used to explain features of natural settings. Theoretical foundations, concrete and theoretical concepts, abstract design, operations, and interpretation of outcomes all are parts of experimental research programs. Although not every -research question lends itself well to experimental research, when questions are formulated abstractly, the range of experimental usefulness is much broader than many people appreciate.

author list (cited authors)

  • Webster, M., & Sell, J.

citation count

  • 15

Book Title

  • Laboratory Experiments in the Social Sciences: Second Edition

publication date

  • July 2014