Have you been in a situation where massive chaos broke for some project of yours about who would work with who; then, to quiet the crowd down, your teacher decided to play a fair draw in which she would write the names of all the students on chits and mix the chits in a bowl, later picking a random chit out to decide who pairs with who?
This is a very relatable example of whatRandom Assignmentis in Psychology.
Random Assignmentis like a fair draw or lottery system used to randomly assign participants to an experimental group or control group of the experiment. This provides an unbiased, undisturbed, and fresh result at the end of the experiment. The key feature here is that through theRandom Assignment provides an equal chance for the participants unless they have had personal fallbacks. (Krause, M.S. and Howard, K.I., 2003)
This assignment aims to investigate how manipulation of one factor causes a change in another factor. These factors are named as independent and dependent variables. An independent variable is one that doesn't change. Experiments are conducted to determine the effectofthis variable. In contrast, a dependent variable is one that can be altered and modified on the basis of the independent variable. The effectofan independent variableuponthe dependent variable is observed. This helps determine the relation between the two variables.
For example, an experiment is conducted to determine the effect of coffee on sleep. Here, the independent variable is coffee, while the dependent variable is sleep, as the alteration of coffee impacts sleep.
Psychologists preferRandom Assignmentbecause it reduces any pre-judgmental and coordinative obstructions. The participants, in most cases, are strangers to each other, and this results in unbiased and critical data that implies the actual dependency of the dependent variable on the independent variable.
These dependent and independent variables are studied and observed actively and passively by experimental and control groups to which the participants are randomly assigned. The participants in the experimental group are open to evaluation actively, while those in the control group cannot access it actively. (Krause, M.S. and Howard, K.I., 2003)
This is needed for two primary reasons:
Also, any judgment based on power and superiority is erased as well.
E.g., if an experiment were to be conducted on the effect of coffee on sleep, participants would be placed randomly into two groups, one that would be asked to consume coffee and one that would not be, based on the record that both the groups match on all characteristic grounds except that one is provided with coffee and the other group isn't.
If theRandom Assignmentmethod is not used, there is a positive possibility to encounter errors in the end data.
In an experiment on the effect of violent gaming (independent variable) on the behavior of children (dependent variable) conducted; you choose to use three groups:
Random Assignmenthelps confirm that the groups don't differ in any systematic or biased manner. It ensures the experiment to be conducted reliably.
Example Of Non-Random Assignment
Suppose for an experiment; people were grouped based on their food preferences.
Here, those with a taste of spicy food would label Japanese cuisine as tasteless, while those with a preference for cakes over chocolates would label milk chocolates as overrated.
This would create a sense of biasness and would NOT lead to reliable results. If the results are in favor of a specific preference, it will create a sense of discrimination.
The application is simple. The selection is made based on:
The goal ofRandom Assignmentis to observe the changes in one variable due to the variation in others, just like the intensity of exposure to violent gaming affecting the behavior of the children.
Once the researcher is set with the objectives of the assignment, the participants are divided and selected randomly by either of the lottery methods. Based on this, some participants will end up in the control group that does not consume the independent variable, while others are placed in the experimental groups, varying the intensity and occurrence of the independent variable.
By the end of the experiment, the researchers collect the data from the participants to determine the impact of the independent variable upon the dependent variable.
When NOT To Apply Random Assignment?
There are times whenRandom Assignmentis considered unethical or irrelevant.
In situations where the application ofRandom Assignmentis not possible, methods like "Quasi-experimental studies" could be used.
According to this method of study, you do NOT go ahead performing a risky experiment. Instead, you study and research upon the pre-existing conditions and results of the participants and derive a conclusion.
For the experiment of "effect of heavy drinking on mental health," you could refer to the studies of heavy drinkers being interrogated for surveys, experiments, studies, and so on. However, for the mild drinking and non-drinking part, you could use theRandom Assignmentmethod to derive a conclusion.
Random Assignment plays a crucial role in psychology. It terminates any form of biased circumstance and behavior and also reduces systematic glitches.
Random Assignmentmethod ensures unique, reliable, and unbiased data as a result and helps deformalize the effect of any internal dispute upon the experiment by selecting participates at random. Through the use ofRandom Assignment, the study of the human mind and behavior has become easier.
However, this method can NOT be applied everywhere. In places that include a specific demand or a risk factor, implementation of this method solely could generate a chaotic output. Nevertheless, using altering the application ofRandom Assignmentcould help get similar unbiased and reliable outputs.
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