Experimental research design as a part of the scientific method is vital for ensuring the reliability of obtained data. It allows researchers to make a causal statement by observing the relationships between variables. This report presents the concepts associated with experimental research, providing their definitions. Also, the paper shows examples from a study that features the experimental design on the topic of fat talk.
The scientific method is vital for providing reliable data during studies. It can be defined as the approach to acquiring knowledge involving observation of a phenomenon, formulation of a hypothesis, testing, drawing conclusions, and analyzing the theory (King, 2016). Experimental research is a part of the scientific method; it can be described as the research performed with a scientific approach.
It involves a constant set of variables and another set that is measured during an experiment. Experimental research is designed to analyze the potential causal relationships between variables (King, 2016). Thus, this type of research is the only one that allows scientists to make causal statements. The article about “fat talk” by Ambwani, Baumgardner, Guo, Simms, and Abromowitz (2017) will be used in this paper to describe the elements of an experiment in detail.
A hypothesis is a scientists’ prediction or an educated guess based on the theory that can be tested during the study (King, 2016). One of the hypotheses Ambwani et al. (2017) introduces is that participants exposed to negative body talk are more likely to engage in such types of conversations subsequently rather than individuals involved in the feminist-inspired fat talk scenario regardless of their ethnicity and other factors. The authors plan to test this educated guess through experimental vignettes. An independent variable (IV) is a practical factor that the authors can change to analyze its effects (King, 2016).
The selected study’s IV is the exposure to feminist-inspired fat talk scenario (Ambwani et al., 2017). The authors use these variables to evaluate the impact they may have on the participants of the experiment. A dependent variable (DV) is the one that can change due to manipulations with the IV. The DV for the study’s selected hypothesis is the subsequent fat talk (Ambwani et al., 2017). It means that authors suggest that negative body talk can more likely occur due to IV.
An operational definition is an objective description of a variable utilized for a particular study (King, 2016). The working purpose of a fat talk and feminist fat talk related to IV and DV are the following. A fat talk, or a negative body talk, can be defined as negative comments about one’s weight or body in general, as well as recommendations to follow a diet, lose weight, exercise, and improve one’s appearance; a feminist fat talk opposes the negative body talk and promotes holistic health (Ambwani et al., 2017). Notably, individuals may aim the fat talk at themselves, for instance, by saying that they cannot wear a dress because their arms are too big.
A random assignment is a process of dividing participants of an experiment into groups by chance (King, 2016). It is necessary because it ensures that the study’s results are not caused by preexisting differences between the individuals in these groups. In the study by Ambwani et al. (2017), participants were assigned to fat talk vignettes randomly, which eliminates the possibility of potential bias.
The participants of the study who are exposed to changes (IV) can be defined as an experimental group (King, 2016). For the selected hypothesis, the experimental group that was exposed to fat talk was comprised of 225 participants who were involved in the feminist fat talk (Ambwani et al., 2017). A control group is presented by the individuals that share similar traits to those in the experimental group but are not exposed to the IV (King, 2016). This group is necessary because it allows the researcher to analyze the impact of IV. In the study by Ambwani et al. (2017), the control group may be identified as the individuals who were not exposed to the feminist fat talk; the group included 202 participants.
Ethical considerations in research are vital as it is crucial to treat participants appropriately. The principles of ethical research in psychology include confidentiality, informing individuals about the aims of the study, and informed consent (King, 2016). Ambwani et al. (2017) report that the participants of the research were debriefed and invited to ask questions; however, they do not mention other issues associated with ethical considerations. Publication in a peer-reviewed journal is vital as researchers should obtain their colleagues’ reviews based on their paper’s scientific merit. Peer-reviewed journals show a significantly higher level of scrutiny compared to popular media (King, 2016). The selected research is published in the Body Image, an international peer-reviewed journal on body image and physical appearance.
The report shows that scientific research design involves several significant parts, such as hypothesis, experimental and control groups, random assignment, and operational definitions. Moreover, it is vital for researchers to consider ethical issues while conducting a study. The selected article is published in a peer-reviewed journal and includes all of the principles of this research design, which is illustrated in the examples from the authors’ work.
Ambwani, S., Baumgardner, M., Guo, C., Simms, L., & Abromowitz, E. (2017). Challenging fat talk: An experimental investigation of reactions to disparaging body conversations. Body Image, 23, 85-92.
King, L. A. (2016). The science of psychology: An appreciative view (4th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.