# How do experiments, powered by random assignment, clarify cause and effect?

Random assignment refers to the use of chance procedures in psychology experiments to ensure that each participant has the same opportunity to be assigned to any given group. Study participants are randomly assigned to different groups, such as the experimental group or treatment group.

## Overview

Random assignment might involve tactics such as flipping a coin, drawing names out of a hat, rolling dice, or assigning random numbers to participants.

It is important to note that random assignment differs from random selection. While random selection refers to how participants are randomly chosen to represent the larger population, random assignment refers to how those chosen participants are then assigned to experimental groups.﻿﻿

## Random Assignment In Research

To determine if changes in one variable lead to changes in another variable, psychologists must perform an experiment. Researchers often begin by forming a testable hypothesis predicting that one variable of interest will have some impact on another variable.

The variable that the experimenters will manipulate in the experiment is known as the independent variable, while the variable that they will then measure is known as the dependent variable. While there are different ways to look at relationships between variables, an experiment is the best way to get a clear idea if there is a cause-and-effect relationship between two or more variables.

Once researchers have formulated a hypothesis, conducted background research, and chosen an experimental design, it is time to find participants for their experiment. How exactly do researchers decide who will be part of an experiment? As mentioned previously, this is often accomplished through something known as random selection.

What Is a Dependent Variable

## Random Selection

In order to generalize the results of an experiment to a larger group, it is important to choose a sample that is representative of the qualities found in that population. For example, if the total population is 51% female and 49% male, then the sample should reflect those same percentages.

Choosing a representative sample is often accomplished by randomly picking people from the population to be participants in a study. Random selection means that everyone in the group stands an equal chance of being chosen.﻿﻿ Once a pool of participants has been selected, it is time to assign them into groups.

By randomly assigning the participants into groups, the experimenters can be fairly sure that each group will be the same before the independent variable is applied.

Participants might be randomly assigned to the control group, which does not receive the treatment in question. Or they might be randomly assigned to the experimental group, which does receive the treatment.

Random assignment increases the likelihood that the two groups are the same at the outset. That way any changes that result from the application of the independent variable can be assumed to be the result of the treatment of interest.﻿﻿

### Example of Random Assignment

Imagine that a researcher is interested in learning whether or not drinking caffeinated beverages prior to an exam will improve test performance. After randomly selecting a pool of participants, each person is randomly assigned to either the control group or the experimental group.

The participants in the control group consume a placebo drink prior to the exam that does not contain any caffeine. Those in the experimental group, on the other hand, consume a caffeinated beverage before taking the test.

Participants in both groups then take the test, and the researcher compares the results to determine if the caffeinated beverage had any impact on test performance.

## A Word From Verywell

Random assignment plays an important role in the psychology research process. Not only does this process help eliminate possible sources of bias,﻿﻿ but it also makes it easier to generalize the results of a tested sample population to a larger population.

Random assignment helps ensure that members of each group in the experiment are the same, which means that the groups are also likely more representative of what is present in the larger population. Through the use of this technique, psychology researchers are able to study complex phenomena and contribute to our understanding of the human mind and behavior.

When averages from two samples are each reliable measures of their own populations, and the difference between them is relatively large, we can assume that the result is statistically significant—that it did not occur by chance alone.

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### How does random assignment show cause and effect?

A random assignment experimental study is the only way to be sure about cause and effect. For example, if doctors want to know whether a medication causes patients to be cured, they will do a random assignment study in which the experimental group gets the medication and the control group does not.

### How does random assignment prevent selection effects?

How does random assignment produce comparable groups?.
Random assignment prevents selection bias. Randomization works by removing the researcher's and the participant's influence on the treatment allocation. ... .
Random assignment prevents confounding. ... .
Random assignment also eliminates other threats to internal validity..

### Why is random so important for determining cause and effect quizlet?

The purpose of random assignment is to ensure that participants are unaware of the experimenter's hypothesis.

### Why is it important to use random assignment when determining which research participants?

Random assignment enhances the internal validity of the study, because it ensures that there are no systematic differences between the participants in each group. This helps you conclude that the outcomes can be attributed to the independent variable.