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Between-Subjects Designs: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:05 Between-Subjects Design
  • 1:34 Strengths & Limitations
  • 3:06 Equivalent Groups
  • 4:21 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Many times in research, a psychologist wants to look at two or more groups to see which condition works best. In this lesson, we'll look at some of the strengths and weaknesses of the between-subjects design and how to form equivalent groups.

Between-Subjects Design

Lou is a psychologist who is interested in how room temperature affects how people perform on a test. He gathers participants and gives them a basic reading and math test in one of two rooms. One room is set to 50 degrees, and the other is set to 85 degrees. Will the heat or the cold produce better test scores? That's what Lou wants to figure out.

There are many elements of experimental design. One common experimental design method is a between-subjects design, which is when two or more separate groups are compared. For example, Lou has two groups of participants, one in the 50 degree room and one in the 85 degree room. He is comparing the scores of the two groups to see if the cold room or the hot room will produce better test scores.

In a between-subjects design, the goal is to see if one treatment is better than the other. For example, it might involve comparing teaching methods or treatments for anxiety or other mental illness. For each subject, one score is gathered. Each subject's score is averaged with the other subjects in their treatment group. Finally, the average scores for each of the groups are compared to see if one treatment is more effective than the other. Let's look closer at the strengths and limitations of between-subjects design and look at the importance and types of equivalent groups.

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