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Experimentální přístup ve studiu náboženství: Podoby a využití experimentu v sociálněvědném výzkumu

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Title in English Experimental Approach in the Study of Religion: Types and Applications of Experiments in the Social Science Research


Year of publication 2014
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Pantheon : religionistický časopis
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Field Philosophy and religion
Keywords experiment; causality; operationalization; dependent variable; independent variable; laboratory experiment; field experiment; natural experiment; empirical testing
Description Experimental research of religious cognition and behaviour is a relatively new methodological tool in the study of religion, promoted and encouraged mainly by the Cognitive Science of religion. This article argues that empirical testing of scientific hypotheses is a pivotal part of any scientific method, regardless the subject and even though experimentation is not the only possible empirical method, it brings too many advantages to be overlooked or ignored in any scientific endeavour. The use of the experimental method in the social sciences is presented and explained in the first part of the article. It stresses both the most important advantage of the experimental method – the identification of causal mechanisms – and the necessary conditions for preparing and conducting an experiment. The second part is dedicated to a typology of experiments (in social sciences), showing the differences between experiments conducted in laboratories and in the field, and the differences between diverse experimental designs. The advantages as well as the shortcomings of each type are discussed and possible ways how to minimalize these "blind spots" are suggested. The experimental types are illustrated by the description of actual experiments which were concerned with selected aspects of religious behaviour and thinking. The last part of the article stresses the usefulness of the experimental method, specifically in the study of religion. The presence of religious studies scholars and experts in the planning and conducting stages of the experiments, as well as during the interpretation of experimental data, is viewed as vital. The aim of this part is to highlight the goal of the article – to encourage religious studies scholars to familiarize themselves with the experimental method and to consider its incorporation to their methodological toolkit.
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