Why is the presence of a control group necessary?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The presence of a control group is necessary when conducting a controlled experiment because it is the setup that doesn't contain the variable being tested. The control setup gives the experimenter something to compare the experimental groups to. The control group helps an experimenter identify whether or not the experimental...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

The presence of a control group is necessary when conducting a controlled experiment because it is the setup that doesn't contain the variable being tested. The control setup gives the experimenter something to compare the experimental groups to. The control group helps an experimenter identify whether or not the experimental variable made a difference or not.

Let's say that you have designed an experimental breath mint. You ultimately want to know if the breath mint works better or worse than the standard breath mint; therefore, you will need a group of people that consumes the new breath mint. They are likely to have better breath because they did indeed take a breath mint; however, you can't know if the mint worked better or worse than the standard mint unless you have a control group of people that consumes the normal mint. Ideally, both groups would be comprised of the same number of men and women and the people in both groups would be required to eat the same food items.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team