Ethics. Research. Community.

Studying pretrial publicity effects: new methods for improving ecological validity and testing external validity.

Law and human behavior. 
[Record Source: PubMed]
Although research examining the effects of pretrial publicity (PTP) on individuals' appraisals of a defendant and verdict decision making generally has been found to be internally valid, the external validity has been questioned by some social scientists as well as lawyers and judges. It is often proposed that the verisimilitude (or ecological validity) ofthe research should be increased in the service of increasing external validity; however, increasing verisimilitude can be costly in terms of both time and money. It is proposed that the Internet is a viable means of conducting PTP research that allows high verisimilitude without high costs. This is demonstrated with a study in which we used the Internet to examine PTP effects in an actual trial as it was taking place. Successful use of the Internet to conduct experimental research in other areas of psychology and law is discussed, as well as the importance of future research examining whether independent variables interact with methods in ways that undermine the generalizability of research findings.
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