Research in the psychological laboratory: Truth or triviality?

  • Anderson C
  • Lindsay J
  • Bushman B
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Abstract

This article examines the truism that studies from psychological laboratories are low in external validity. Past rational and empirical explorations of this truism found little support for it. A broader empirical approach was taken for the study reported here; correspondence between lab and field was compared across a broad range of domains, including aggression, helping, leadership style, social loafing, self-efficacy, depression, and memory, among others. Correspondence between lab- and field-based effect sizes of conceptually similar independent and dependent variables was considerable. In brief, the psychological laboratory has generally produced psychological truths, rather than trivialities. These same data suggest that a companion truism about field studies in psychology-that they are generally low on internal validity-is also false.

Author-supplied keywords

  • External validity
  • Metaanalysis
  • Philosophy of science

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