A True Experiment
The 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, though unconventional, can be called a true experiment. Designed to test the psychology of the prison environment, the experiment simulated a prison in which subjects were randomly assigned the role of either "prisoner" or "guard." The simulation produced dramatic outcomes; guards quickly became controlling and even sadistic, and prisoners experienced psyhological stress, depression, and even physical illness. The intensity of the situation forced researchers to ended the study prematurely, but its construction as a true experiment still allowed researchers to assess a relationship between variables and gain valuable insight into the power of assigned roles.
A true sociological experiment can be defined as an experiment in which subjects are assigned randomly to an experimental group and one or more comparison groups, with outcomes measured over time (Schlutt I-20). Conventionally, an experiment's comparison group is a control group (a group recieving no treatment); however, a comparison group may also be a group of subjects recieving a treatment or variation of the independent variable differing from that of the experimental group (Schlutt 176-178). This is the case with