Ecological validity

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In research, the ecological validity of a study means that the methods, materials and setting of the study must approximate the real-world that is being examined.[1] Unlike internal and external validity, ecological validity is not necessary to the overall validity of a study.[2][not specific enough to verify]

The original meaning of 'ecological validity' defines it narrowly as a property of stimuli in perceptual experiments.[3]

Vs. Realism and external validity[edit]

The term "ecological validity" is now widely used by researchers unfamiliar with the origins and technical meaning of the term to be broadly equivalent to what Aronson and Carlsmith (1968) called "mundane realism." Mundane realism references the extent to which the experimental situation is similar to situations people are likely to encounter outside of the laboratory. For example, mock-jury research is designed to study how people might act if they were jurors during a trial, but many mock-jury studies simply provide written transcripts or summaries of trials, and do so in classroom or office settings. Such experiments do not approximate the actual look, feel and procedure of a real courtroom trial, and therefore lack mundane realism. The better recognized concern is that of external validity: if the results from such a mock-jury study are reproduced in and generalize across trials where these stimulus materials, settings and other background characteristics vary, then the measurement process may be deemed externally valid.



See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brewer, M. (2000). Research Design and Issues of Validity. In Reis, H. and Judd, C. (eds) Handbook of Research Methods in Social and Personality Psychology. Cambridge:Cambridge University Press.
  2. ^ Shadish, W., Cook, T., and Campbell, D. (2002). Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs for Generalized Causal Inference Boston:Houghton Mifflin.
  3. ^ Hammond, Kenneth R. (September 1998). "Ecological Validity: Then and Now". University at Albany. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  4. ^ Aronson, E., & Carlsmith, J. M. (1968). Experimentation in social psychology. In G. Lindzey & E. Aronson (Eds.), The handbook of social psychology (2nd ed., Vol. 2, pp. 1-79). Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.