Experimental Method

In experimental method of studying behaviour is carried out in laboratories. Sometimes these experiments are contucted in fields, which are named as field experiments. The main objective of this method is to formulate a testable hypothesis in terms of observable events.

The four basic steps of the process are: 
  1. Forming a Hypothesis
  2. Designing a Study and Collecting Data
  3. Analyzing the Data and Reaching Conclusions
  4. Sharing the Findings
In this method of experiments, there are two important concepts with which we deal. They are;
  1. Variables
  2. Controls


It is an event or condition which can have different values. It is an event which can be measured and it varies quantitatively. 

Variables may be either;
  a) Independent
  b) Dependent

An independent variable is a condition set or selected by an experiment to see whether it will have an effect on behaviour. It might be a stimulus presented, a drug administration, a new method of training etc.

The dependent variable in an experiment might be the response of a person or animal to the stimulus. It is the behaviour of the person or animal after the administration of the drug, training method etc. It is called as a dependent variable, because their value depend upon the independent variable. 

Example: Enriching the environment of young children with books and toys will increase their scores on intelligence tests.  

Here, enriching the environment is the independent where as scores of intelligence tests are dependent. 


The other important character of the experimental method is control. In an experiment, the factors other than the independent variable which might affect the dependent variable must be held constant or the result of the experiment will be unreliable. Scientists must be very careful to control their experiments adequately.

Advantages of Experimental Method:

  • Experiments are the only means by which cause and effect can be established.
  • It allows for precise control of variables. The purpose of control is to enable the experimenter to isolate the one key variable which has been selected in order to observe its effect on some other variables. 
  • Experiments can be replicated. We cannot generalise from the results of a single experiment. The more often an experiment is repeated, with the same results obtained, the more confident we can be that the theory being tested is valid. The experimental method consists of standardised procedures and measures which allow it to be easily repeated.
  • It is also worth noting that an experiment yields quantitative data (numerical amounts of something) which can be analysed using inferential statistical tests. These tests permit statements to be made about how likely the results are to have occurred through chance.

Limitations of the Experimental Method:

  • It cannot always be used, especially if it is dangerous to the subject.
  • This method is restricted in its application.
  • The conclusion derived from this method may not be applied in natural situation. 
  • This method sometimes interferes with the very thing it is trying to measure.

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