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experimental manipulation

The deliberate alteration of the independent variable in an experiment in order to learn about its effects on the dependent variable.

external validity

The degree to which a study's participants, stimuli, and procedures adequately reflect the world as it actually is.

independent variable

The variable that the experimenter manipulates as a basis for making predictions about the dependent variable.

inferential statistics

Mathematical procedures that allow a researcher to draw further claims from a data pattern, including claims about whether the pattern observed in the sample is likely to be observed in other samples.

informed consent

A research participant's agreement to take part in the study, based on full information about what the experiment will involve.

internal validity

The characteristic of a study that allows us to conclude that the manipulation of the independent variable caused the observed changes in the dependent variable.

intrinsically rewarding

An activity or object that is pursued for its own sake.

mean (M)

A measure of central tendency computed by calculating the sum of all the observations, then dividing by the number of observations.

median

A measure of central tendency taken by putting the data values in order and finding the value that divides the distribution in half.

meta-analysis

A statistical technique for combining the results of many studies on a particular topic, even when the studies used different data collection methods.

operational definition

A definition that translates the variable we want to assess into a specific procedure or measurement.

population

The entire group about which the investigator wants to draw conclusions. See also sample.

quasi-experiment

A comparison that relies on already-existing groups (i.e., groups the experimenter did not create).

random assignment

In an experimental design, the random placement of participants in either the experimental or control groups, ensuring that the groups are matched at the outset of the experiment.

random sampling

A procedure in which every member of the population has an equal chance of being picked to participate in a study.