Examine the Problems That Some Sociologists May Face When Using Different Kinds of Experiments in Their Research

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Examine the problems that some sociologists may face when using different kinds of experiments in their research (20 marks) There are two main types of experiments that sociologist like to use to gain primary data. These are lab and field experiments. Both experiments manipulate an independent variable (ID) and measure its effect on the dependent variable (DV) which allows for a cause and effect relationship to be concluded. A lab experiment is conducted within an artificial environment, whereas a field experiment is conducted in the participants’ natural environment. Interpretivist sociologists would choose to not use lab experiments because they lack ecological validity as they are conducted within an environment that is artificial to the participant. This means that the results don’t reflect true-life behaviour because of both the environment they conducted the task in, and the nature of the task wasn’t true to real life and can also be said to not be generalisable to a population because of their small sample sizes in which lab experiments are conducted. Furthermore, participants might have been aware that they were being studied and so might not act normally, which is called the Hawthorne effect. Another reason why interpretivist sociologists don’t choose to use lab experiments is that they say human behaviour cannot be measured or explained in terms of cause and effect, and instead humans act in terms of feeling, choices and also individual motives. Society doesn’t lend itself to be studied in a laboratory and this is because it is so complex and cannot be artificially created. It is also difficult to control and identify all factors that could effect behaviour and this is because society id an ‘open system’, not a ‘closed system’. In addition it is hard to match people into control and experimental groups because there will be individual differences
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