The Field Study in Social Psychology : How to Conduct Research Outside of a Laboratory Setting? book cover
1st Edition

The Field Study in Social Psychology
How to Conduct Research Outside of a Laboratory Setting?

ISBN 9780367555566
Published September 9, 2021 by Routledge
216 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This unique book offers a comprehensive introduction to field studies as a research method in social psychology, demonstrating that field studies are an important element of contemporary social psychology, and encourages its usage in a methodologically correct and ethical manner.

The authors demonstrate that field studies are an important and a much-needed element of contemporary social psychology and that abandoning this method would be at a great loss for the field. Examining successful examples of field studies, including those by Sherif and Sherif, studies of obedience by Hofling, or the studies of stereotypes of the Chinese by LaPiere, they explore the advantages and limitations of the field study method, whilst offering practical guidance on how it can be used in experiments now and in the future. Covering the history and decline of the field study method, particularly in the wake of the replication crisis, the text argues for the revival the field study method by demonstrating the importance of studying the behaviour of subjects in real life, rather than laboratory conditions. In fact, the results point to certain variables and research phenomena that can only be captured using field studies. In the final section, the authors also explain the methods to follow when conducting field studies, to make sure they are methodologically correct and meet the criteria of contemporary expectations regarding statistical calculations, while also ensuring that they are conducted ethically.

This is an essential reading for graduate and undergraduate students and academics in social psychology taking courses on methodology, and researchers looking to use field study methods in their research.

Table of Contents


  1. Is Social Psychology still a Science of Human Behavior?
  2. A Strictly Natural Experiment
  3. The Field Study in Social Psychology – The History of Research Conducted Using the Field Study Method
  4. Field Study Vs. Other Research Methods – A Comparison
  5. Internal and External Validity: Enemies or Friends?
  6. Ethical Aspects of Field Studies – What the Code Says and What Common Sense Dictates
  7. Who Should be the Participants? – The Problem of Randomization in Field Studies
  8. The Effect of the Social Context of Studies
  9. Imprecise Procedures as a Source of Error Variance
  10. Variables that are (usually) Omitted in the Experimental Procedure and that Affect the Outcomes of the Experiment
  11. Studies Conducted Via the Internet Perceived as being in a Natural Environment for Numerous Actions of Contemporary Man
  12. Publication of Results
  13. Replications
  14. Areas where Field Studies have Remained in Use
  15. Good Practices
  16. Final Remarks



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Tomasz Grzyb is Professor at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Wroclaw Faculty in Poland, and President of Polish Social Psychological Society. His main area of interest is social influence and manipulation techniques. He is also a supporter of courses concerning the basics of social influence studies organized for military officers engaged in PSYOPS. He has published several articles about marketing, social psychology, advertising, and education.

Dariusz Dolinski is Professor at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Wroclaw Faculty in Poland, and editor of the Polish Psychological Bulletin. He was formerly the president of the Polish Association of Social Psychology and president of the Committee for Psychology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. He is the author of Techniques of Social Influence (Routledge, 2016) and (with T. Grzyb) The Social Psychology of Obedience Towards Authority (Routledge, 2020).


"In a particularly engaging fashion, the authors explore the methodology, ethics, and importance of field research within social psychology. They point to the rich benefits of field research, two of which are especially significant. First, field research allows researchers to assess whether the effects they are investigating are powerful enough to appear in naturally-occurring environments. Second, it allows the public to recognize the relevance of social psychological findings to their lives."

Robert Cialdini, Arizona State University, USA