Quasi-experiments are most likely to be conducted in field settings in which random assignment is difficult or impossible. They are often conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of a treatment—perhaps a type of psychotherapy or an educational intervention. There are many different kinds of quasi-experiments, but we will discuss just a few of the most common ones in this chapter.
- 8.0: Prelude to Quasi-Experimental Research
- The prefix quasi means “resembling.” Thus quasi-experimental research is research that resembles experimental research but is not true experimental research. Recall with a true between-groups experiment, random assignment to conditions is used to ensure the groups are equivalent and with a true within-subjects design counterbalancing is used to guard against order effects. Quasi-experiments are missing one of these safeguards.
- 8.1: One-Group Designs
- This is the weakest type of quasi-experimental design. A major limitation to this design is the lack of a control or comparison group. There is no way to determine what the attitudes of these students would have been if they hadn’t completed the anti-drug program. Despite this major limitation, results from this design are frequently reported in the media and are often misinterpreted by the general population.
- 8.2: Non-Equivalent Groups Designs
- Recall that when participants in a between-subjects experiment are randomly assigned to conditions, the resulting groups are likely to be quite similar. In fact, researchers consider them to be equivalent. When participants are not randomly assigned to conditions, however, the resulting groups are likely to be dissimilar in some ways. For this reason, researchers consider them to be nonequivalent.
Thumbnail: A graphic explanation of between-group design (Public Domain; Wikipedia).