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The Growth and Development of Experimental Research in Political Science


Although political scientists have long expressed skepticism about the prospects for experimental science, an analysis of the first hundred volumes of the American Political Science Review reveals that randomized experiments have grown in impact and prominence. We document how thinking about experimentation has evolved over the century, and demonstrate the growing influence of laboratory, survey, and field experiments. A number of experiments have transformed how political scientists think about causal relationships in specific substantive areas. There are limits to the kinds of questions that experiments can address, but experiments have made important contributions in an array of political science subfields.

Corresponding author
James N. Druckman is an Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Northwestern University, Scott Hall, 601 University Place, Evanston, IL 60208 (
Donald P. Green is A. Whitney Griswold Professor, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520.
James H. Kuklinski is Matthew T. McClure Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801.
Arthur Lupia is Hal R. Varian Collegiate Professor, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109.
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American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
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