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Use of Experiments in Natural Sciences and in Sociology

Use of Experiments in Natural Sciences and in Sociology

Experiments are particularly important in natural sciences as they are

the device used to either prove or disprove a hypothesis. Sciences

such as chemistry or physiology operate in what is known as closed

systems, where all the variables can be controlled. This means

therefore that such experiments can be carried out, and effectively.

Whereas it may be difficult in physical sciences to control the

variables, and in sociology to recreate everyday life, natural

sciences do not face the same overriding problems. What they are

investigating is predictable and all that makes up the experiment can

be controlled and changed in order to assess how true their hypothesis

is. They do not have to worry about the results not being reliable as

the situations do not change, nor do the subjects under study; they

are going to react to different situations in the same way every time.

Therefore they are particularly useful and well respected as they give

true, unquestionable results that ultimately prove or disprove a

hypothesis, with no room for any substantial opposing argument.

By using experiments it enables scientists to test precise

predictions. Laboratories are environments that the scientist can

control and indeed manipulate the various independent variables

however they wish. They can calculate the effects of a single

independent variable while removing the possibility that any other

factors are affecting the dependent variable they are studying.

b) Assess the reason why experiments are rarely used in sociology. (12

marks)

Even though experiments appear to be extremely useful in proving

something to be true, or to simply find a lot more about a certain

subject, in sociology they are not as useful and reliable. They

frequently incur many ethical or practical problems and are therefore

not used as often as the results they show are very questionable.

A first reason why they are rarely used in sociology is due to the

known and accepted fact that it is extremely difficult to recreate

normal life in the artificial setting of an experiment.
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