Department of Economics, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Using Natural Experiments to Study the Impact of Media on the Family
Version of Record online: 1 JUN 2012
© 2012 by the National Council on Family Relations
Volume 61, Issue 3, pages 363–373, July 2012
How to Cite
Price, J. and Dahl, G. B. (2012), Using Natural Experiments to Study the Impact of Media on the Family. Family Relations, 61: 363–373. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-3729.2012.00711.x
- Issue online: 1 JUN 2012
- Version of Record online: 1 JUN 2012
- natural experiments
The randomized trial is the gold standard in scientific research and is used by several fields to study the effects of media. Although useful for studying the immediate response to media exposure, the experimental approach is not well suited to studying long-term effects or behavior outside the laboratory. The “natural experiment” approach, a quasi-experimental method commonly used by economists, exploits settings in which there is naturally occurring variation that “randomly” influences the amount and type of media that individuals are exposed to. We discuss the methodological issues of natural experiments and the ways in which findings based on this approach can complement the findings from laboratory or other experimental settings. The examples we discuss highlight the value of interdisciplinary work in better understanding media's impact on family issues such as fertility, divorce, domestic violence, and child well-being.