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Revisiting Truth or Triviality: The External Validity of Research in the Psychological Laboratory

Perspectives on Psychological Science, Vol. 7, pp. 109-118, 2012

Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2012-22

10 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2012 Last revised: 31 Jan 2015

Gregory Mitchell

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: March 12, 2012

Abstract

Anderson, Lindsay, and Bushman (1999) compared effect sizes from laboratory and field studies of 38 research topics compiled in 21 meta-analyses and concluded that psychological laboratories produced externally valid results. A replication and extension of Anderson et al. (1999) using 217 lab-field comparisons from 82 meta-analyses found that the external validity of laboratory research differed considerably by psychological subfield, research topic, and effect size. Laboratory results from industrial-organizational psychology most reliably predicted field results, effects found in social psychology laboratories most frequently changed signs in the field (from positive to negative or vice versa), and large laboratory effects were more reliably replicated in the field than medium and small laboratory effects.

Keywords: external validity, generalizability, effect size, meta-analysis

JEL Classification: C90, C91, C93

Suggested Citation

Mitchell, Gregory, Revisiting Truth or Triviality: The External Validity of Research in the Psychological Laboratory (March 12, 2012). Perspectives on Psychological Science, Vol. 7, pp. 109-118, 2012; Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2012-22. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2020561

Gregory Mitchell (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States
434-243-4088 (Phone)

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