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Political Science 3N06 2013 L9.docx

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Political Science
Todd Alway

Experimental methods Political Science 3N06 2013 Lecture 9  If you want to construct Political Science o How do you structure your observations  So that it is reasonable to conclude that X causes Y  There are different types of research design  how can we reasonably make inferences that we have developed causal relationships  there needs to be a research design; it structures the data  But (at least for positivist research) they all attempt to demonstrate persuasive answers to three issues o Temporality  you have to demonstrate the imputed cause came before the effect o Correlation  to say there is a causal relation between two variables; when one moves so does the other o Spuriousness  is there any other variable that can account for the variables the two X and Y  ruling off other possible causes Research structure to easily defer; make reasonable inference  The experimental method represents the archetypal approach for positivist social science o the standard towards social science  Held up as the gold standard for establishing causal relationships between variables o it is important be cause it addresses it though a criteria; Temporality, Correlation (measure changes on the dependent variable), Spurious (ways of structuring designs to rule out some variables)  Pre Test->Independent V->post-test (correlation) o need internal validity; to show all plausible causes What are experiments?  it is the archetypal approach  it is not a predominate method for political science, but doesn’t mean that it cannot be used  it is applicable to some topics  There are many types, but consider the Pretest/post-test laboratory experiment  A hypothesis is stipulated – that there is a relationship between two variables  An experimental group is assembled  The dependent variable is measured  The independent variable in introduced  The dependent variable is measured again  Any change in the dependent variable (assuming internal validity) is attributed to the independent variable  Are they an effective way of testing Political Science research hypotheses?  Two issues: Internal Validity and External Validity Internal Validity  How certain can we be that the independent variable is the only variable impacting the dependent variable in our experiment  “There are a number of threats to internal validity that you have to keep in mind when evaluating what the experiment actually demonstrates” 1. History o Historical events (events outside the experiment) take place between your pretest and post-test o These events might impact the dependent variable and thereby confound your observations o you have to control this 2. Maturation o Natural physiological and psychological changes occur within your subjects over the course of time o Over years,
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