How can I minimize observer bias in my research?

You can use several tactics to minimize observer bias.

  • Use masking (blinding) to hide the purpose of your study from all observers.
  • Triangulate your data with different data collection methods or sources.
  • Use multiple observers and ensure interrater reliability.
  • Train your observers to make sure data is consistently recorded between them.
  • Standardize your observation procedures to make sure they are structured and clear.

How do you prevent attrition?

To avoid attrition, applying some of these measures can help you reduce participant dropout by making it easy and appealing for participants to stay.

  • Provide compensation (e.g., cash or gift cards) for attending every session
  • Minimize the number of follow-ups as much as possible
  • Make all follow-ups brief, flexible, and convenient for participants
  • Send participants routine reminders to schedule follow-ups
  • Recruit more participants than you need for your sample (oversample)
  • Maintain detailed contact information so you can get in touch with participants even if they move

What is attrition bias?

Attrition bias is the selective dropout of some participants who systematically differ from those who remain in the study.

Some groups of participants may leave because of bad experiences, unwanted side effects, or inadequate incentives for participation, among other reasons. Attrition is also called subject mortality, but it doesn’t always refer to participants dying!

What’s the difference between demand characteristics and social desirability bias?

Demand characteristics are aspects of experiments that may give away the research purpose to participants. Social desirability bias is when participants automatically try to respond in ways that make them seem likeable in a study, even if it means misrepresenting how they truly feel.

Participants may use demand characteristics to infer social norms or experimenter expectancies and act in socially desirable ways, so you should try to control for demand characteristics wherever possible.