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Revisiting Truth or Triviality: The External Validity of Research in the Psychological Laboratory

Psychology, evidence, methods, RCT


Anderson, Lindsay, and Bushman (1999) compared effect sizes from laboratory and field studies of 38 research topics compiled in 21 meta-analyses and concluded that psychological laboratories produced externally valid results. A replication and extension of Anderson et al. (1999) using 217 lab-field comparisons from 82 meta-analyses found that the external validity of laboratory research differed considerably by psychological subfield, research topic, and effect size. Laboratory results from industrial–organizational psychology most reliably predicted field results, effects found in social psychology laboratories most frequently changed signs in the field (from positive to negative or vice versa), and large laboratory effects were more reliably replicated in the field than medium and small laboratory effects.

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