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.
What are the differences between field and laboratory experiments? There are many differences between laboratory and field experiments. For example laboratories are able to control the experiments variables to a close degree; whereas field experiments can not due to the mass amount of outside influences and distractions. Within a laboratory the participants of the experiment are full aware of the fact that they are being put under observation and are part of an experiment so they automatically respond to the experiment in a more self-conscious way as they don’t want to embarrass themselves or ruin the results. Unlike in a field experiment where the participants are completely unaware that they are being observed so it gives more of a natural response, this allows the researchers to gain results with greater validity.
this is because lab experiments are good at controlling variables, keeping it reliable and representative. However its weak points such as validity is a strong subject for field experiments. However the comparative method should certainly not be used as it lacks control over variables reliability and validity as its not certain whether the experiment had actually discovered the cause of
Examine why some sociologists choose not to use experiments when conducting research? (20 marks) Many sociologists choose not to use laboratory experiments for research because it fails to achieve their main goal of validity. To have complete control of conditions in a lab experiment is impossible as that level of control over variables would require a completely artificial environment which will be very expensive. However in contrast other sociologists such as Positivists disagree and are in favour of laboratory experiments. Other alternatives to laboratory experiments are field experiment and the comparative method.
However, they are opposed by Interpretivists who say they impose the researcher’s framework of ideas on the respondents and they claim this may influence the respondents’ view on the question being asked. A reason as to why some sociologists choose not to use questionnaires when conducting research is because of a chance of a low response rate. This may be a result of people who receive questionnaires being not bothered to complete and return it. This can be a problem as the people who do not respond having a different opinion to those who do respond, this does not provide accurate representativeness. A higher response rate can be obtained if follow-up questionnaires are sent, but this can add to the cost and time.
Examine the reasons why some sociologists choose not to use experiments when conducting research (20 marks) In scientific research, an experiment is a method of investigating causal relationships among variables, or to test a hypothesis. The ability of Establishing this relationship is why some sociologists, such as positivists, favour this method of research. There are three types of experimental methods that sociologists may use in their research, Firstly, sociologists use laboratory experiments. Once a Laboratory experiment has been conducted other scientists can replicate it. This makes laboratory experiments highly reliable as they are replicable.
and of how these identities can be bias on scientific facts. Martin also talks about the effects of science on society. The author introduces Foucault's influence, that science is implicated in how institutions govern individuals and populations. Another focal point of this chapter is how scientific findings are reviewed by their peers to certify knowledge. Martin also explains how knowledge is social and material.
Sociologists do not simply declare their beliefs indisputable truths – they do research to determine whether those beliefs are correct. Their investigations are rooted in the scientific method that distinguishes the sociological perspective from “commonsense” interpretations of the world. The sociological perspective emphasizes that people’s thoughts and action are strongly influenced by the groups to which they belong as well as by impinging social factors such as beliefs, values, practices and institutions. From birth to death individuals are imbedded within and influenced by groups and larger structures. As sociologists our main goal is to understand social situations and look for repeating patterns in society.
Positivists tend to use empirical research methods such as experiments and questionnaires to study sociology (Andrews). By using these methods, Positivists can be certain that they are obtaining the correct information. Not only that but by using empirical research methods, it is much easier for other sociologists to reproduce the same results they received. Durkheim, a strong believer in positivism, said that positivists are “in the same state of mind as a physicist, chemist or physiologist when he probes into a still unexplored region of the scientific domain” (Gordon). When Durkheim said that, he was saying that sociologists study sociology just like how a biologist studies photosynthesis.
This type of research is often utilized in situations where conducting lab research is unrealistic, cost prohibitive or would unduly affect the subject's behaviour. One of the advantages of this type of research is that it allows the experimenter to directly observe the subject in a natural setting, therefore allowing a truer insight into the subject’s natural behaviours. The main advantage of a naturalistic experiment is that it uses a naturally occurring situation, therefore it is valid. The disadvantages of naturalistic observation include the fact that it can be difficult to determine the exact cause of behaviour and the experimenter cannot control for outside variables. Furthermore untrue generalisations may be made using the information gathered on one subject and using this as a consensus for all subjects falling into that bracket.