Review of The Human Subject in the Psychological Laboratory

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Abstract

Reviews the book, The Human Subject in the Psychological Laboratory by Irwin Silverman (see record 1978-20076-000). In this book, the author presents his assessment of the laboratory experiment following years of research on the social psychology of the psychological experiment. Silverman makes his views clear from the outset: the laboratory is “an excellent place to study laboratory behavior; but by virtue of this it is suited for little else”, and he relentlessly pursues this thesis throughout the book. Through the seeming enormity of evidence and Silverman's constant attention to his thesis, the reader is brought to the precipice from which the laboratory experiment must surely fall. The uncritical reader will find Silverman's arguments well-written and effectively woven together in a relatively concise, easily readable manner. Any criticisms of the book must focus on errors of omission rather than problems of style or misrepresentation of fact. The important questions seem to concern a need to better understand how an experimenter can conduct meaningful research with human subjects. This understanding will not come about from proclaiming that other methods are better or from research which has only the objective of documenting the inadequacies of current methods. More than anything else Silverman's book suggests the need for a new direction for increased research on the social psychology of the psychological experiment. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)

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