Mook, D.G. (1983). In Defense of External Invalidity. American Psychologist, 38, 379-387.

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In "In the Defense of External Invalidity", Monk (1983) suggests that external validity concerns only need to be addressed when when researchers aim at “predicting real-life behavior in the real world” (p. 124). He first argues that the relevance of external validity is contingent on this willingness of the researchers to generalize and then proposes four general types of research designs for which there is no such aim.

The four designs he introduces are the following. First, there are the designs in which only one wishes to investigate whether something can happen (and not whether it typically does). Second, there are the designs in which one wishes to see if an effect that ought to happen in the laboratory actually does. Third, there are the designs in which one hopes to show that an effect is robust to unrealistic settings that should moderate it. Four, there are the designs in which one creates conditions that have no equivalent in the real world.

He then concludes that in such cases not only should researchers not be concerned with external validity, but also that they are actually better served in their scientific pursuit by using their "externally invalid" designs.

The paper has been widely cited in the context of the (in)appropriateness of external validity concerns, in several scientific fields such as business, communications, psychology, and sociology.



Additional references:

Berkowitz, L. & Donnerstein, E. (1982). External validity is more than skin deep: Some answers to criticisms of laboratory experiments. American Psychologist, 37, 245–257.

Anderson, C.A., Lindsay, J.J. & Bushman, B.J. (1999). Research in the Psychological Laboratory: Truth or Triviality? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 8(1), 3-9.


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