David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Review of Philosophy and Psychology 3 (3):457-467 (2012)
It has long been known that scientists have a tendency to conduct experiments in a way that brings about the expected outcome. Here, we provide the first direct demonstration of this type of experimenter bias in experimental philosophy. Opposed to previously discovered types of experimenter bias mediated by face-to-face interactions between experimenters and participants, here we show that experimenters also have a tendency to create stimuli in a way that brings about expected outcomes. We randomly assigned undergraduate experimenters to receive two different hypotheses about folk intuitions of consciousness, and then asked them to design experiments based on their hypothesis. Specifically, experimenters generated sentences ascribing intentional and phenomenal mental states to groups, which were later rated by online participants for naturalness. We found a significant interaction between experimenter hypothesis and participant ratings indicating a general tendency for experimenters to obtain the result that they expected. These results indicate that experimenter bias is a real problem in experimental philosophy since the methods and design employed here mirror the predominant survey methods of the field as a whole. The bearing of the current results on Knobe and Prinz’s (Phenomenology and Cognitive Science 7(1):67–83, 2008) group mind hypothesis is discussed, and new methods for avoiding experimenter bias are proposed.
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References found in this work BETA
Simon Cullen (2010). Survey-Driven Romanticism. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1 (2):275-296.
Fiery Cushman, Liane Young & Marc Hauser (2006). The Role of Conscious Reasoning and Intuition in Moral Judgment. Psychological Science 17 (12):1082-1089.
Adam Feltz, Edward T. Cokely & Thomas Nadelhoffer (2009). Natural Compatibilism Versus Natural Incompatibilism: Back to the Drawing Board. Mind and Language 24 (1):1-23.
Adam Feltz, Maegan Harris & Ashley Perez (2012). Perspective in Intentional Action Attribution. Philosophical Psychology 25 (5):673-687.
Joshua Knobe (2007). Experimental Philosophy. Philosophy Compass 2 (1):81–92.
Citations of this work BETA
Joshua Knobe, Sandeep Prasada & George Newman (2013). Dual Character Concepts and the Normative Dimension of Conceptual Representation. Cognition 127 (2):242-257.
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