Tips on how write a Controlled Experiment?
What Is a Controlled Experiment?
A controlled experiment is an experiment in which everything but one variable is constant. Usually, a data set is viewed as a control group, which is normally the normal or normal state, and one or more other groups are examined in which all conditions are identical to the control group and to each other except for one variable. Sometimes it is necessary to change more than one variable, but all other experimental conditions are controlled so that only the variables under study change. What is measured is the number of variables or the way in which they change.
Researchers often look at independent variables to understand the implications for dependent variables when conducting research. In the case of the controlled experiment, all other variables except the independent variable are either controlled or kept constant in order to find the exact correlation between the dependent and independent variables.
Variable control methods can include:
- Limit or stabilize the effects of variables such as ambient temperature.
- Check the variables statistically for your analysis.
- Use randomization to balance variables such as a random sequence of tasks.
What is the importance of a controlled experiment?
Control of variables in research is important as it is a key factor in internal validity, which helps establish cause-and-effect relationships between variables.
You analyze the effect of colors on marketing strategies. You want to test whether the use of green will add value to the products. In this case, the independent and dependent variables are as follows:
- Independent variable: the color used for advertising and marketing purposes.
- Dependent variable: The price that the customer is willing to pay for the products.
Several factors can affect the value of a product. A controlled experiment will almost certainly determine whether color affects advertising and makes customers pay more for the product.
Many independent factors can affect the validity of your study if they are not taken into account. These are called foreign variables.
Extraneous variable example
In the example above, external variables can include:
- Product description and design.
- Environment of the study, such as lighting and temperature.
- Buying habits of the customer.
- Familiarity of the customer with the product.
- Socio-economic background of the client.
If these variables are uncontrollable, they will have a major impact on the customer price of your product. It is also very difficult to determine the effect of color on advertising.
How do you control variables?
When conducting a controlled experiment, one of the most common control methods is to standardize data collection. This means that all study participants will be tested in the same environment with the same resources or materials. In addition, only the independent variable should be addressed between the study groups.
Optimizing sampling procedures helps you control exogenous variables when performing controlled experiments. For best results, the sample should be selected from the target population using specific inclusion and exclusion criteria. For example, choosing a specific income bracket to include participants from that category, excluding participants who are color blind.
You can also include the effects of exogenous variables in subsequent studies that may influence the study results.
After participants are selected for the study, they should be divided into groups to test the effects of independent variable manipulations. Assigning participants to groups helps in performing controls during the research.
Control Groups: By creating control groups, researchers can test the comparative effects of manipulating the independent variables by subjecting the groups to treatment, no treatment, or sham treatment.
It allows an assessment to be made as to whether the results were due to the treatment or some other factor that may have influenced the result.
Example of a control group
To conduct your controlled experiment, invite participants into the study environment, which remains the same for each participant.
In order to test the effect of colors, the participants are divided into two groups. These include,
- Therapeutic group: The group is exposed to the red advertisement for the product.
- Control group: The group is presented with green display elements for the same element.
Make sure that only the color should be different while all other sides should stay the same.
Random assignment: Random assignment is a great way to eliminate systematic differences between participants in the control and treatment groups.
It also ensures that most of the foreign participant variables are evenly distributed among the experimental groups, which allows a valid comparison.
Real experiment always uses a random assignment, which distinguishes them from the quasi-experiment.
An example of a random assignment
Each participant selected for the study must be given a number and a random algorithm must be used to randomly divide the participants into groups.
Exogenous variables such as gender, age, etc. are evenly distributed between the control and treatment groups, eliminating their influence on the outcome.
Blinding / Masking: This type of control in controlled studies hides the task from the participants and the researcher. This type of control is very common in clinical trials to test new drugs or treatments.
In some cases, the researcher may inadvertently influence the behavior of the participants in certain ways that could affect the validity of the study. The environment can also influence the participants to behave in a certain way or to influence their reactions.
Because of the masking, both the researcher and the participants are unfamiliar with the test group. It helps remove biases from the study that may have influenced the results of the study.
In the double-blind case, the researcher is only aware of the conditions of use of the participants after the study data collection has been completed.
In the above scenario, researchers can provide questionnaire forms to participants to record their responses. They will be gathered in a room and given the form to record their responses. The data is digitized on a computer so that the terms of each participant are hidden.
The research goal is also hidden from participants by presenting irrelevant filling tasks so that participants cannot guess the goal of the experiment.
Limits to Controlled Experimentation
While a controlled experiment is a standard method of testing for causality, there are some limitations to keep in mind.
Not all variables can be controlled: this is especially true when people are involved in the study. In addition, it can be very difficult or even almost impossible to calculate all of the external variables such as cognition, attitudes, etc. that can affect the outcome of the study.
However, it is necessary to control these variables in order to reduce their impact on the study results.
Low risk of external validation: Controlled studies have a significant disadvantage of external validation. This means that the result of the study cannot be carried out on a large scale on the population and the general environment.
The more variables that are controlled, the less they reflect the real-world scenario, making it difficult to apply the results outside of the controlled environment.
You always have to weigh the result against both external and internal validity; Therefore, it is necessary to understand the goal of the research to determine which aspect needs more attention.
Frequently asked Questions
What is a controlled experiment?
An experiment in which all other variables except the independent variable are controlled to test their effect on the dependent variables is called a controlled experiment.
Why do we need to do a controlled experiment?
Controlled experiments help to establish causal relationships between variables and are crucial for internal validity.
What methods are there to control the controlled experiment?
There are three main types of methods used to control variables in order to reduce their impact on study results. These include
- Define control groups.
- Use of random assignment.
- Use of obfuscation/masking.
What are the main problems with controlled experiments?
The main limitations of controlled trials include the following.
- Not all variables can be controlled.
- The results have little external validity because they are difficult to implement under real conditions.
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