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Using laboratory experiments to study law and crime

Publication Date
  • Institute Of Sociology
  • 300 Social Sciences
  • Sociology & Anthropology
  • Laboratory Experiments
  • Experimental Methods
  • Law
  • Crime
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Criminology
  • Social Sciences


The 19th and 20th centuries produced breakthroughs in physics, chemistry, and the biological sciences. Laboratory research played an important role in the rapid advances made in these fields. Laboratory research can also contribute progress in the social sciences and, in particular, to law and criminology. To make this argument, we begin by discussing what laboratory experiments can and cannot do. We then provide three illustrations of lab experiments that have contributed to understanding of crime and law and discuss how these laboratory data complement those gained through other methods.

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