What are the disadvantages of the experimental method?


Quick Answer

The experimental method has a number of known weaknesses which include its creation of manufactured situations, its inability to control all variables, and its susceptibility to human error. In some situations, the experimental method is of no practical use whatsoever, although in others it is an excellent tool for producing causal evidence.

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Full Answer

The experimental method depends on hypotheses and observation. It requires the creation of a controlled scenario in order to derive information from how closely the scenario matches or deviates from the initial hypotheses. This creates a number of problems for researchers.

Problems with the experimental method include:

  • Uncontrollable variables
  • Amorphous variables like culture and gender roles cannot be controlled perfectly or completely, and so many experiments cannot be done because of this.

  • Artificial situations
  • Because of the need for controlled operating environments, many factors that would be present in the open world are unavailable or not present in certain experiments.

  • Human error
  • humans must conduct all experiments and, as they are fallible operators, their mistakes may influence results.

While the experimental method is superior to most other methods of scientific inquiry in the quality of its results and the control over variables it provides, it is far from infallible. The best countermeasures are thorough oversight and a keen understanding of its flaws.

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