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Single-Participant Research Designs

  1. Bradley E. Huitema

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0875

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Huitema, B. E. 2010. Single-Participant Research Designs. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–3.

Author Information

  1. Western Michigan University

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Single-participant research designs involve the intensive study of one participant continuously or repeatedly across time. The participant may be a person or a single molar unit, such as an industrial organization or a political unit. As with conventional group designs based on reasonably large samples of subjects, single-participant designs are employed to determine whether different variables are related or whether a treatment or intervention causes some effect on relevant response measures. There are situations in which it is more meaningful, more convenient, more ethical, and/or less expensive to study one or very few participants intensively than to study many participants. A basic difference between group and single-participant designs is that one or very few observations are generally obtained from each participant with group designs, whereas many observations are usually obtained from a single participant across time in the case of single-participant designs. The design categories of correlational, quasi-experimental, and experimental, which are frequently used to classify different types of group designs, can also be used to classify various single-participant designs.


  • experimental design;
  • research methodology;
  • scientific method