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Examine The Problems That Some Sociologists May Face When Using Different Kinds Of Experiments In Their Research

715 words - 3 pages

Examine the problems that some sociologists may face when using different kinds of experiments in their research (20 marks)

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 two types of experimental methods that sociologists may use in their research:

• Lab experiments are controlled experiments conducted in an artificial environment. This means the researcher can control different variables. They do this by taking a set of subjects and dividing them into two random groups; ...view middle of the document...

Therefore although the ability to control variables in laboratory conditions may be seen as a positive/advantageous, it on the other hand produces a completely artificial environment, which would likely never take place in reality. In this sense field experiments would be a better experimental method as favoured by interpretivists.
• There are also many ethical (moral) objections to conducting experiments on human beings, at least in certain circumstances. Informed consent from the participants is very important and is necessary. However it is difficult to gain informed consent from some people such as babies or people with learning difficulties. Laboratory experiments bring about lots of ethical issues and for this reason many sociologists don’t use lab experiments as Human rights has become a major influence in protecting everyone’s rights. Also laboratory experiments tend to have the Hawthorne effect. It is an artificial environment and as a result behaviour is also unnatural. If people know they are being studied they may behave differently, for example, they may try to guess what the experiment is about and behave accordingly to please’ the researcher. This is known as the Hawthorne effect.
• Interpretivists’ sociologists, such as interactionists, argue that human beings are different from plants, animals, rocks and other things used in experiments. Unlike them...

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