Experimental Criminology

Lorraine Mazerolle and Sarah Bennett

in Criminology

ISBN: 9780195396607
Published online June 2011 | | DOI:
Experimental Criminology

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Experimental criminology is a family of research methods that involves the controlled study of cause and effect. Research designs fall into two broad classes: quasi-experimental and experimental. A research (or evaluation) design is experimental if subjects are randomly assigned to treatment groups and to control (comparison) groups. A research (or evaluation) design is quasi-experimental if subjects are not randomly assigned to the treatment or control conditions but rather if statistical controls are used to study cause and effect. In experimental criminology, samples of people, places, schools, prisons, police beats, or other units of analysis are typically assigned (either randomly or through statistical matching) to one of two groups: either a new, innovative treatment, or an alternate intervention condition (control). Any observed and measured differences between the two groups across a set of “outcome measures” (such as crime rates, self- reported delinquency, perceptions of disorder) can be attributed to the differences in the treatment and control conditions. Exponential growth in the field of experimental criminology began in the 1990s, leading to the establishment of a number of key entities (such as the Campbell Collaboration, the Academy of Experimental Criminology, the Journal of Experimental Criminology, and the Division of Experimental Criminology within the American Society of Criminology) that have significantly advanced the field of experimental criminology into the 21st century. These initiatives have extended the use of experiments (including randomized field experiments as well as quasi-experiments) to answer key questions about the causes and effects of crime and the ways criminal justice agencies might best prevent or control crime problems. The use of experimental methods is very important for building a solid evidence base for policymakers, and a number of advocacy organizations (such as the Coalition for Evidence- Based Policy) argue for the use of scientifically rigorous studies, such as randomized controlled trials, to identify criminal justice programs and practices capable of improving policy-relevant outcomes. Compiled with research assistants Elizabeth Eggins, Jacqueline Davis, Sarah-Ann Burger, and Renee Zahnow.

Article.  9997 words. 

Subjects: Criminology and Criminal Justice ; Criminal Justice ; Criminology

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