Experiments in the laboratory and the real world
The age-old question of the generalizability of the results of experiments that are conducted in artificial laboratory settings to more realistic inferential and decision-making situations is considered in this paper. Conservatism in probability revision provides an example of a result that (1) has received wide attention, including attention in terms of implications for real-world decision making, on the basis of experiments conducted in artificial settings and (2) is now apparently thought by many to be highly situational and not at all a ubiquitous phenomenon, in which case its implications for real-world decision making are not as extensive as originally claimed. In this paper conservatism is considered in some detail within the context of the generalizability question. In a more general vein, we discuss some of the difficulties inherent in experimentation in realistic settings, suggest possible procedures for avoiding or at least alleviating such difficulties, and make a plea for more realistic experiments. © 1973.
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