THE SUBJECT ROLE IN SMALL GROUP EXPERIMENTS.
Technical rept. no. 12
DUKE UNIV DURHAM N C
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The social psychological experiment is seen as a system of experimenters and subjects, instead of the classical experimental model of introduction of single variables into a controlled situation. The experiment is a special kind of interpersonal system, very similar to that described as play, namely separate in time and space, uncertain, unproductive, free and governed by rules and make believe. Methodological difficulties occur because experimenters and subjects do not play the same game and because of the overlap of the game system with the part of the subjects life situation. Several studies are described which investigate the effects of the difficulties in taking the subject role. One study showed the different meanings of volunteering for an experiment for men and women. Another set of experiments showed, through physicological measures, the meaning of different phases of the experiment for the subject. Examination of these methodological studies shows the gain for the understanding of experimental results through the use of the play-model. Author