Examine some of the practical, ethical and theoretical problems of using experiments in sociological research (20 marks).
In various experiments, problems will always occur. Especially in a variety of sociological experiments, practical, ethical, and theoretical problems will always get in the way. These problems can happen in three different types of sociological experiments; field, laboratory and natural.
In field experiments, the experiments are always taken place in real life surroundings, leaving the participants unaware that they are involved. The researcher manipulates one or more of the variables in a situation to see what effect it has on the clueless subjects of the experiments. A practical issue with this type of experiment is that as the participants have no idea they are involved, there is no consent given for the researchers to allow them to experiment on them. Also, the participants may realise that they are being studied, and as a result, they change their natural behaviours. This would cause the results to be un-reliable and lack validity. An ethical problem with field experiments is that the participants could end up getting hurt or even psychologically damaged. This is due to having no control with the experiment.
Laboratory experiments are taken place in very controlled environments, allowing the researchers to easily manipulate the independent variable and record the dependent variable. The participants that are being tested in the experiment are fully aware that they are being studied and are known as the 'control group'. An ethical problem to laboratory experiments is that the participants may become harmed unintentionally, depending on the type of the experiment. However, the main problem about laboratory experiments is that they are extremely artificial. The experiments are artificial due to the fact that the participants are completely aware of the experiment and their surroundings. This can cause the participants to act in a...