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What counts as an experiment?: A transdisciplinary analysis of textbooks, 1930-1970

Winston, Andrew S. and Blais, Daniel J. (1996) What counts as an experiment?: A transdisciplinary analysis of textbooks, 1930-1970. American Journal of Psychology 109(4):pp. 599-616.

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Abstract

The textbook definition of <I>experiment</I> as manipulation of an independent variable while holding all other variables constant is generally treated as transdisciplinary and transhistorical. We examined the rise of this definition in psychology and other disciplines by comparing 236 introductory texts from psychology, sociology, biology, and physics published during the 1930s, 1950s, and 1970s. The definition of experiment in psychology texts did not approach uniformity until the 1970s and was not borrowed from texts of other disciplines. The standard definition is relatively absent from physics, infrequent in biology, and appears in sociology after its development in psychology. We discuss the enshrinement of experimentation as the sole method for the discovery of causes.

EPrint Type:Journal (Paginated)
Keywords:experiment, cause, function, method, history
Subjects:Chronology > 19th Century
Chronology > 20th Century
Geography > Europe
Geography > North America
History > Intellectual
Psychology > Experimental
Psychology > Methodology
Theory > Philosophy of Science
ID Code:34
Deposited By:Green, Christopher D.
Deposited On:06 January 2002