Dependent Variable (Encyclopedia of Psychology)
The variable measured in an experiment or study; what the experimenter measures.
When conducting research, a psychologist typically takes two or more similar groups of people or animals and exposes them to different treatments or situations. Then the researcher monitors a behavior of interest to see whether that behavior differs from one group to the next. This measurement is the dependent variable. A single experiment may involve more than one dependent variable.
When specifying the dependent variable, it must be clearly defined and measurable. In one experiment, researchers gathered a group of business executives who displayed evidence of Type A behavior (e.g., nonstop working, aggressiveness, and competitiveness). The researchers divided the executives into subgroups and either exposed them to a small amount of information regarding the health hazards of such behavior, provided them with support groups, or offered a course in stress management. The dependent variable was a score on a test that reflected Type A tendencies. Although personality is so complex that it cannot really be described by a single score, the test for Type A behavior provides a measurement that is objective and measurable. The executives who took the stress management course scored lower than those in the support groups; the highest test...
(The entire section is 266 words.)
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