Placebos are used in medical research for new medication or therapies, called clinical trials. In these trials some people are given a placebo, while others are given the new medication being tested.
The purpose is to determine how effective the new medication is: if it benefits people beyond a predefined threshold as compared to the placebo, it’s considered effective and not the result of a placebo effect.
Although there is no definite answer to what causes the placebo effect, researchers propose a number of explanations such as the power of suggestion, doctor-patient interaction, classical conditioning, etc.
Common types of selection bias are:
Response bias is a general term used to describe a number of different conditions or factors that cue respondents to provide inaccurate or false answers during surveys or interviews. These factors range from the interviewer’s perceived social position or appearance to the the phrasing of questions in surveys.
Nonresponse bias occurs when the people who complete a survey are different from those who did not, in ways that are relevant to the research topic. Nonresponse can happen because people are either not willing or not able to participate.
Observer bias occurs when the researcher’s assumptions, views, or preconceptions influence what they see and record in a study, while actor–observer bias refers to situations where respondents attribute internal factors (e.g., bad character) to justify other’s behavior and external factors (difficult circumstances) to justify the same behavior in themselves.
Research bias affects the validity and reliability of your research findings, leading to false conclusions and a misinterpretation of the truth. This can have serious implications in areas like medical research where, for example, a new form of treatment may be evaluated.
Stratified and cluster sampling may look similar, but bear in mind that groups created in cluster sampling are heterogeneous, so the individual characteristics in the cluster vary. In contrast, groups created in stratified sampling are homogeneous, as units share characteristics.
Relatedly, in cluster sampling you randomly select entire groups and include all units of each group in your sample. However, in stratified sampling, you select some units of all groups and include them in your sample. In this way, both methods can ensure that your sample is representative of the target population.
When your population is large in size, geographically dispersed, or difficult to contact, it’s necessary to use a sampling method.
This allows you to gather information from a smaller part of the population (i.e., the sample) and make accurate statements by using statistical analysis. A few sampling methods include simple random sampling, convenience sampling, and snowball sampling.
Social desirability bias is a type of response bias that occurs when survey respondents provide answers according to society’s expectations, rather than their own beliefs or experiences.
It is especially likely to occur in self-report questionnaires, as well as in any type of behavioral research, particularly if the participants know they’re being observed. This research bias can distort your results, leading to over-reporting of socially desirable behaviors or attitudes and under-reporting of socially undesirable behaviors or attitudes.
The observer-expectancy effect occurs when researchers influence the results of their own study through interactions with participants.
Researchers’ own beliefs and expectations about the study results may unintentionally influence participants through demand characteristics.
The observer-expectancy effect is often used synonymously with the Pygmalion or Rosenthal effect.