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The informative functions of research procedures: Bias and the logic of conversation

Discusses the application of conversational rules of everyday communication to the interaction between experimenters and Ss. Ss determine the pragmatic meaning of instructions and questions on the basis of these rules and the provided context. In contrast to most natural settings, standardized experimental procedures rarely allow for an interactive determination of pragmatic meaning and often preclude feedback as a corrective device. As a consequence, Ss are required to rely heavily on general rules, and even subtle cues may become informationally loaded. The information extracted from context cues may often not be intended by the experimenter. Thus, Ss may infer more than they are supposed to, resulting in discrepancies between the experimenter's intended and the Ss' inferred meaning of the instructions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)