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POL322 Lecture #3 .docx

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Political Science

POL322 Lecture #3 How Do We Know Our Theory is “Right”? Obstacles to Establishing Causality 1. Reverse Causality and Simultaneous Relationship 2. Confounding Variables – Spurious, Misguided, and hidden Relationships Confounding variable is both related to X and Y Research Designs: strategies that researchers can use to empirically test whether X cause Y 1. Experiments 2. Observational Studies Experiments: an experiment is a research design in which 1. the researcher controls values of the independent variable a. address the concerns of reverse causality and simultaneity 2. the research randomly assigns values of the independent variable to the participants a. Address the concerns of confounding variables Treatment Assignment (Control of X) - Great care should be given when you assign a particular value of X (=assign a treatment) to different groups - Otherwise, you might invite confounding factors into the process Different Types of Experiments 1. Laboratory Experiments o Experiments conducted in a laboratory setting (e.g. classroom) o Recruit voluntary participants 2. Field Experiments o Experiments conducted in a real-world setting 3. Survey Experiments o Experiments conducted on a sample of people randomly selected from a large population Validity of Experimental Studies Internal Validity: the degree of confidence in the causal conclusion drawn from the analysis External Validity: the degree of confidence in generalizability of the causal conclusion drawn from the analysis Laboratory Experiments: Relatively high internal validity but relatively law external validity - using a random sample chosen from the entired population, we can external validity than laboratory or field experiments. - In addition, we would expect high internal validity, because of a random assignment of treatments to sampled individuals. Advantages and Disadvantages of Experiments Advantage: 1. High internal validity: The issues of reverse causality, simultaneity, and spurious or misleading relationships can be addressed with confidence Disadvantage: 1. Low external validity: How the result is appli
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