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Psychology Glossary

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True Experimental Design

A true experimental design is one in which the researcher manipulates the Independent Variable (or variables) to observe its effect on some behavior or cognitive process (the dependent variable) while using random assignment of participants to groups in order to control external factors from influencing the results. Without both manipulation of the IV and random assignment of participants, you do not have a true experimental design and, as a result, can't establish cause and effect.

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