By Olivier Klein and others
Perspectives on Psychological Science 7(6) 572–584
This article revisits two classical issues in experimental methodology: experimenter bias and demand characteristics. We report a content analysis of the method section of experiments reported in two psychology journals (Psychological Science and the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology), focusing on aspects of the procedure associated with these two phenomena, such as mention of the presence of the experimenter, suspicion probing, and handling of deception. We note that such information is very often absent, which prevents observers from gauging the extent to which such factors influence the results. We consider the reasons that may explain this omission, including the automatization of psychology experiments, the evolution of research topics, and, most important, a view of research participants as passive receptacles of stimuli. Using a situated social cognition perspective, we emphasize the importance of integrating the social context of experiments in the explanation of psychological phenomena. We illustrate this argument via a controversy on stereotype-based behavioral
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