PhilSci Archive

Beyond experiments

Diener, Ed and Northcott, Robert and Zyphur, Michael and West, Steven (2021) Beyond experiments. [Preprint]

[img] Text
Diener-PPS-R1-Beyond-Experiments-final.docx

Download (122kB)

Abstract

It is often claimed that only experiments can support strong causal inferences and therefore they should be privileged in the behavioral sciences. We disagree. Overvaluing experiments results in their overuse both by researchers and decision-makers, and in an underappreciation of their shortcomings. Neglecting other methods often follows. Experiments can suggest whether X causes Y in a specific experimental setting; however, they often fail to elucidate either the mechanisms responsible for an effect, or the strength of an effect in everyday natural settings. In this paper, we consider two overarching issues. First, experiments have important limitations. We highlight problems with: external, construct, statistical conclusion, and internal validity; replicability; and with conceptual issues associated with simple X-causes-Y thinking. Second, quasi-experimental and non-experimental methods are absolutely essential. As well as themselves estimating causal effects, these other methods can provide information and understanding that goes beyond that provided by experiments. A research program progresses best when experiments are not treated as privileged but instead are combined with these other methods.


Export/Citation: EndNote | BibTeX | Dublin Core | ASCII/Text Citation (Chicago) | HTML Citation | OpenURL
Social Networking:
Share |

Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Diener, Ed
Northcott, Robertr.northcott@bbk.ac.uk
Zyphur, Michael
West, Steven
Additional Information: forthcoming in Perspectives on Psychological Science
Keywords: experiments, psychology, validity, replicability, causal inference
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
General Issues > Experimentation
Specific Sciences > Psychology
General Issues > Social Epistemology of Science
Depositing User: Dr Robert Northcott
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2021 03:43
Last Modified: 17 Jul 2021 03:43
Item ID: 19321
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
General Issues > Experimentation
Specific Sciences > Psychology
General Issues > Social Epistemology of Science
Date: 14 July 2021
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/19321

Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Monthly Downloads for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item