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41 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back


Experimenter doesn't directly manipulate variables

Variable are selected

Natural Treatment Design

Design: observation to treatment to observation

E.G. effect of new curriculum on 3rd grade achievement

Note: this is not a true reversal (ABA) design

Natural Treatment

Problems (potential confounds)

Maturation-changes in the participants themselves

(e.g., experience with tests, better social adjustment, biological maturation)

History-influences outside the classroom that could affect results

Natural Treatment


Use nonequivalent control group


No random assignment

Matching after the fact; therefore, selection bias

One-shot case studies

Design and Problems

Design: History to current behavior

E.G. Clinical Case

Problem: No baseline observations

Thus, no control condition

One-shot case studies


Use Deviant Case Analysis

Similar individual without treatment, as control

Need many observations and good detective work

e.g., suppose patient is depressed; history shows

  • Abusive parent
  • Family history of depression
  • low socioeconomic status
  • Was a passenger on a hijacked airliner
  • Exposed to toxic chemicals on the job site
  • Family moved often

Interrupted-Time Series Design

Does Flouride cause increased achievement?

Third variable problem (e.g., absenteeism)

Use nonequivalent control group

Examine several dependent variables

Other sources of confounding:

Other changes that occurred

Mortality (not same subjects before and after the tests)

Designs Employing Subject Variables

Subject Variable

Some measurable characteristic of people

(I.Q., sex, age, race, addiction, mental illness)

Always confounded with other variables

i.e., can't manipulate subject variable while holding other factors constant

Use matching to control for confounded variables

e.g., compare schizophrenics to neurotics of similar age, I.Q., length of hospitalization etc.

Designs Employing Subject Variables

Problems with matching

Relevant variables may be unknown

May result in small n's

Subtle interactions among matching variables may confound results

Regression artifacts

Designs Employing Subject Variables

Age as a variable

Cross sectional Design

e.g., compare 5,8, and 12 year olds

Problem: age confounded with generation of birth

(different attitudes, education, etc.)

Designs Employing Subject Variables

Longitudinal Design

Same subjects studied over time

Problem: age confounded with time of testing

Designs Employing Subject Variables

Time lag Design

Examines time of testing while holding age constant

Problem: confounding time of testing with generation gap

Designs Employing Subject Variables

Cross-sequential Design

Test 2 or more age groups at 2 or more times

Includes features of other three designs

Different ages tested at the same time (cf X- sect.)

Same subjects tested successively (cf longitudinal)

Different subjects of same age tested at different times (cf time lag)

Therefore, can determine effects of major confoundings

Designs Employing Subject Variables


Cross Sectional design with age as quasi-independent variable plus another true independent variable

Look for interaction: e.g., effect of two learning strategies and age on memory

If interaction between strategy and age, try to determine what variable confounded with age is responsible

Designs Employing Subject Variables

Protocol 1


5 yr Memory Test

12 yr Memory Test

Results: 12 year old > 5 year old


Brain Maturation?


Reading Level?




Designs Employing Subject Variables

Protocol 2

Age: Training:

5 yr. Rote vs. Categorization vs None

12 yr. Rote vs. Categorization vs None

Memory Test


Rote: 5 year old > 12 year old

Categ.: 12 year old > 5 year old

None: 12 year old > 5 year old

What variable associated with age accounts for interaction?

Operant Conditioning

Basic Paradigm

Basic Paradigm: R to SR+ to increasing probability of R

Importance of controlled environment (skinner box)

Focus on rate of response

Operant Conditioning

Importance of schedule of reinforcement

Strongly influences temporal pattern of response

Generality established

Across different species

Across different responses

Across different reinforcers

Operant Conditioning

Focus on behavior of individual subjects

Reliability demonstrated by stabililty of baseline

Across sessions

Across individuals

Group comparisons not used

No group means

No tests of statistical significance

Operant Conditioning


Behavior modification

Programmed learning

Behavioral pharmacology

Operant Conditioning

The Reversal Design (ABA)

(A) Baseline

(B) Independent Variable

(A) Baseline

Operant Conditioning

Multiple-Baseline Design

If permanent carry over effects

Interpreting Results

Interpreting specific results

Scale attenuation effects


A) Ceiling effects

B) Floor effects


a) scale of measurement not broad enough

b) task difficulty (too easy or too hard)

Take home message- Always ask: are the results limited by the scale of measurement of the task?

'0' Retention level- possible ceiling effect

9-18 level- floor effect?

Solution- run pilot study and adjust scale or task accordingly

Interpreting Results

Regression Artifacts

  1. Statistical regression to the mean
  2. Likely to occur in quasi-experimental designs where subjects are matched
  3. Solution- random assignment of subjects to groups

Interpreting Patterns of Research

Reliability and Replication

Reliability increased when

a) large number of observations

b) repeatable results

Replication results=experimental reliability vs. statistical reliability

Three kinds of replication

a) direct-repeat experiment as closely as possible

b) systematic- repeat experiment while varying factors considered irrelevant

c) conceptual-replicate the phenomenon in an entirely different way

Interpreting Patterns of Research

Converging Operations

  1. Definition- a set of independent operations that eliminate alternative explanations of experimental results
  2. Purpose- to validate an explanatory concept

a) e.g., Stroop effect: Increased time to name a color with the ink and color names don't match

b) Interpretations:

i) Perceptual inhibition- reading inhibits perception

ii) Response competition-between two different names that are elicited

Which small-n-design is most susceptible to confounding from the order of conditions?


In an ABA design, we can conclude that it was the treatment variable that affected the change during phase B if

behavior in the third phase did return to the baseline

Which of the following is generally agreed to be a characteristic disadvantage of (or threat to validity in) a reversal design

The possibility of carryover effects

Which statement is true of within-subjects multiple baseline experiments?

Effects cannot be attriubuted to the independent variable if the measured behaviors interact.

Which of the following is characteristic of changing-criterion design?

The researcher manipulates the contingency for a particular outcome.

A quasi-experiment differs from a true experiment because in a quasi-experiment

Researcher selects levels of the independent variable

In an interrupted time series design, there are all of the following except

Interruptions caused by uncontrolled variable other than the treatment

The phenomenon of regression to the mean implies that if your parents are slightly more intelligent than the average, your intelligence is probably:

above average but less than your parents'

You are interested in surveying attitudes about gambling as a function of age. Assume that you decide to conduct a poll today about gambling expenditures. This poll will consist of an equal number of people at 18, 24, 30, and 60 years of age. This is an example of which age-related method?


An interaction between age and an experimental treatment means that:

The effect of the experimental treatment differed at various ages

The issue of scale attenuation in the dependent variable refers to the problems of interpretation when performance is:

either nearly perfect or very poor

Suppose that you were an A student, but on your last test you received a B, and the average of the class was a C. The phenomenon of statistical regression suggests that on your next test you will most likely receive a(n)


Experimental reliability may be established by:

replication with an additional sample of similar participants

Systematic replication of an experiment involves:

changing numerous variables not thought to be critical to the phenomenon under consideration

Converging operations are important in psychology because:

they serve to eliminate alternative explanations of a phenomenon