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What is the Experimental Method in Psychology

The Experimental Method in Psychology | Complete Psychological Experimental Method in Detail

In this article we will discuss Experimental Method in Psychology, Limitations of Experimental Method in Psychology and Steps in Experimental Method in Psychology. 

We will also discuss the answers of these questions i.e., What is the experimental method in psychology? What is experimental research method in psychology?


Introduction of the Experimental Method in Psychology

Psychology was become separated from philosophy because of the experimental method. In the experiment, the scientist creates conditions in which the reaction takes place, which is observable. This experiment is usually performed in a laboratory

Physicists and physical therapists first used the experimental method on psychological problems. They performed experiments on color vision, hearing and mental interaction. 

Finally, psychologists felt that psychology should have their own experiments. Where psychological problems could be examined and tested scientifically. 

Psychological historians trace the beginnings of experiments to 1860, when Gustav Fechner published his book 1801-1877, entitled Elements of Psycho-physics. In this book, the measure of curiosity is described. 

Definition of the Experimental Method in Psychology

The experimental method is a scientific, advanced and systematic method.

According to Robert S. Wodworth, experiment is a question that the experimenter asks to nature, so that he may know the solution of his problem.

Psychology is now an experimental branch of the physical sciences, and like other sciences, it uses the experimental method to study the facts about human behavior. 

In the experiment of psychology, the veteran carefully and skillfully defines and analyzes a particular problem concerning human character. The experiment is to confirm or deny the possible relationship between two events. This is done under laboratory conditions.

Psychological Laboratory for Experimental Method

Each science has its own laboratory; where experiments are performed under standard and controlled conditions. Necessary equipment is provided in each laboratory. Proper temperature, air and light are provided, and noise-free environment is also provided so that work can be done seamlessly. 
In a psychiatric laboratory; care is taken to ensure that the laboratory environment is good. In addition to the equipment in the psychiatric laboratory, it is also important to have living organisms. Therefore, the environment should be calm, clean and pleasant; so that the attention can not be diverted. 
Efforts are made to provide natural environment as much as possible. In psychological laboratories human beings are observed objectively, where the mind and character of the individual or individuals are studied. 
In addition, learning, intelligence, perception, memory and excitement and stimuli are studied and observed. Therefore, the psychological laboratory must be standard.

William James established the laboratory in the United States in 1875, and Wilhelm Wundt established the first psychiatric laboratory at Leipzig in 1879. 

Psychology Laboratory established in 1883 at Johns Hopkins University in the United States. Over the next few years, laboratories were established at many American universities.


The expert who manages the experiment in the psychiatric laboratory is called the experimenter. He is very sharp from the beginning to the end of the experiment. The experimenter is very trained, and he gives instructions about the experiment. 
The experimenter is fully aware of the nature, equipment and process of the experiment. He studies the variables carefully that occur during the experiment. He keeps a complete record of the experiment, and also notes external impressions. 
Then it is his job to draw conclusions. The experimenter plays an important role in the success and failure of the experiment, so he has to work very skillfully and cleverly during the experiment.


The person or persons on whom the experiment is performed are called subject. The subject is asked to follow the instructions of the experimenter completely. His slight negligence and carelessness can adversely affect the results of the experiment. So he has to work honestly and consistently. 
The experimenter notices even the smallest movement of the subject. The subject of the experiment also expresses his feelings verbally or in writing. During the experiment, experimenter has to work beyond his personal values, attitudes, interests and prejudices.

Steps in Experimental Method in Psychology

Hypothesis/ Assumption

In scientific term; the question that the experimenter raises in his mind before starting the experiment is called hypothesis. Assumptions/ hypothesis are confirmed or refuted through experiment. 
Assumptions/ Hypotheses are the essence of our daily observations and thoughts. For example, the question that arises in the mind of the veteran is that fatigue has a negative effect on learning. This hypothesis predicts that the effect of fatigue on the individual will slow down the pace of learning. This hypothesis is tested by experiment.

Experimental Design

The experimenter selects the problem before experimenting, after determining the problem, experimenter gathers all the information and material about it. Equipment is assembled for the experiment. And by choosing the subject, he is instructed regarding the terms and conditions of the experiment. 
If the experiment is properly planned, the situation is kept under control, then accurate results are expected. And when experiments are repeated over and over again on different people under controlled conditions, the accuracy and validity of the results is denied or confirmed. 
Performance is shown in the form of tables and graphs by drawing quick conclusions from experiment. This whole process is called experimental design.


The experimenter tries to study the role of the subject under a number of conditions in order to find out to what extent the subject is affected by these changes. Such changeable conditions are called variables. In any experiment we find two types of variables:
  • Independent Variable/ Free Variable
  • Dependent Variable/ Subordinate Variable

Independent variable/ Free Variable

The factors whose effects are studied are called independent variables. The experimenter modifies the independent variable in a specific way, to see if there is any change in the individual as a result. 
For example, if the experimenter assumes that discomfort affects the learning process, then discomfort is an independent variable.

Dependent Variable/ Subordinate Variable

The variation that occurs in an individual as a result of a change in an independent variable is called dependent variable
For example, a decrease in the speed of normal learning due to discomfort would be called dependent variable. But this does not mean that if an experiment proves a hypothesis to be true, then it must be true. Because these results may not be the result of an independent variable, but may be derived from another important factor, which we call the relevant/ related variable in scientific terms.

In order to prove an independent variable, it is necessary to control all other relevant/ related variables during the experiment, so that the effects of only one variable at a time can be studied. 
If the change in the dependent variable is due to a change in the independent variable, then the hypothesis is confirmed. Otherwise the hypothesis is rejected.

Control Group and Experimental Group

The experiment consists of a control group, which has to work under normal situations and conditions. The second group is called experimental group which has to work in experimental environment. That is, the experimenter compares the results obtained from the control group and the experimental group. 
This independent variable is considered to be the cause of any change in the experiment results. Under which only the experimental group has to work, i.e., the independent variable is applied to the experimental group.

In order to choose a group of subjects, it is important that they be as similar as possible in all respects, such as age, gender, education, heritage, intelligence and economic and social environment.

Characteristics / Advantages of the Experimental Method in Psychology/ What are Advantages of the Experimental Method in Psychology.

The experimental method in psychology is considered as objective, scientific and systematic method of research for the following reasons:
  1. Quantitative results are obtained with the help of experimental method, and it is a scientific method of research.
  2. The experimental method in psychology is an objective method, because it does not involve the process of the experimenter's likes and dislikes.
  3. This method can be used on all kinds of subjects, such as it can be used to study the role of men, women, children, old, young, intelligent and also animals.
  4. This method of study uses both internal and external observation methods, the experimenter observes external observation, and subject observes internal observation. In this way the flaws of both methods are removed.

Experimental Method Flaws / Disadvantages of Experimental Method in Psychology/ What are Disadvantages of Experimental Method in Psychology.

The following major disadvantages of experimental method in psychology:

  1. This is an expensive research method.
  2. In this method, the role of subject is studied by placing it in an artificial environment. Which is an unnatural way.
  3. When working in a laboratory under disciplined/ controlled conditions, it is common to subject get nervous, and as a result, experiment leads to erroneous results.
  4. It is impossible to control subject's internal conditions with this method.
  5. Only trained people can set up all the terms and materials of the experimental method.
  6. In addition, the veteran must be trained to control variables.

Solution of the Shortcomings of Psychological Experiment

In the psychological experiment, the living human being is the center of the observer's observation. It is very difficult to keep the human being's behavior normal during the experiment. 
Subject's behavior is an important variable in itself. His curiosity about the experiment i.e., what it is, what its purpose is, makes him restless. Therefore, in most cases, the veteran should control his subject's behavior. 
They should not let known about, that they are participating in a psychological experiment. The technique used for this purpose is called Single Blind Technique. This technique does not allow the subjects to determine whether they belong to the experimental group or the control group.

Even with the use of this single-blind technique, sometimes accurate experimental results cannot be obtained. Because even an experimenter person is also a human being, unwillingly, sometimes his unconscious and conscious desires, prejudices, likes and dislikes, etc., affect the outcome of the experiment. 
So the tactic used to correct this error is called Double Blind Technique. Thus, the subject does not know which group it belongs to, nor does the veteran know which member belongs to the control group and which belongs to the experimental group.

In short, with the help of these tactics, experts can substantially eliminate the shortcomings of psychological experiment, and may gather objective and scientific facts/ results.

Frequently Asked Questions | FAQs

What is the experimental method in psychology?

The experimental method is a scientific, advanced and systematic approach, in which expert manipulates the one or more variables and measure the change in subject's behavior.

What are the different types of experiments in psychology?

There are many types of experiments in psychology as field studies, laboratory studies and natural setting studies.

What are the 5 types of research methods in psychology?

  1. Observation Methods
  2. Field Study Method
  3. Life History Method
  4. Survey Method
  5. Statistics Method

What are the Seven Steps of the Experimental Method in Psychology?

  1. Identify the Problem/ Find Research Problem
  2. Hypothesis
  3. Experimental Design/ Research Design
  4. Testing Variables
  5. Observation and Data Collection
  6. Rating and Classification
  7. Diagnosing/ Conclusion

What is an example of experimental method in psychology?

For example, the question that arises in the mind of the veteran is that fatigue has a negative effect on learning. This hypothesis predicts that the effect of fatigue on the individual will slow down the pace of learning. This hypothesis is tested by experiment.

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