Template matching: A proposal for probing the ecological validity of experimental settings in social psychology

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Abstract

Introduces the template matching technique as a way of investigating whether people behave in real life as they behave in laboratory settings. First, each laboratory behavior is characterized by a template, a Q-sort personality description of the hypothetical ideal person most likely to display that behavior. These templates characterize Ss' potential behaviors inside the laboratory. Next, Q-sort personality descriptions of the Ss are obtained from their peers; these characterize the Ss' behaviors outside the laboratory. Evidence for the ecological validity of the laboratory setting is then sought in the match between these 2 sets of data. Using this technique with 96 undergraduates and 30 of their roommates, support was found for the ecological validity of the mixed-motive game, a widely used laboratory paradigm whose validity is often questioned. The heuristic use of Q-sort data to draw clinical portraits of the Ss is also illustrated. (31 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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