Vol. 4 No. 7 (2014)
Open Essays and Researches

L'esperimento in scienza politica: alcuni elementi di critica metodologica

Published 2016-10-17


  • Experimental method,
  • Limits,
  • Experiment,
  • Political science

How to Cite

Calò, C., & Rago, M. (2016). L’esperimento in scienza politica: alcuni elementi di critica metodologica. Cambio. Rivista Sulle Trasformazioni Sociali, 4(7), 189–208. https://doi.org/10.13128/cambio-19243


This article examines the use of experimental method in political science. In the first part we put in evidence the constitutive principles and the limits of the experimental method. Subsequently we highlight the practical research problems deriving from the transposition of the experimental approach in the domain of human sciences. We offer a brief review of the main fields of political science where the experiment has been adopted. In the second part we analyze three of most famous political experiments: Gosnell’s experiment (1926) on the reasons of electoral abstention; Eldersveld’s experiment (1956) on the effects of propaganda strategies on electoral behavior; Iyengar’s experiment (1982) on television effects of political preferences expressed by media’s users. Each experiment is described in-depth; the critique pinpoints the numerous and serious violations of the classic experimental method, which results totally distorted.


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