Experimental Realism refers to the degree to which the experiment absorbs and involves its participants; the extent to which the study’s setting feels realistic and involving to participants and elicits spontaneous behavior ; the extent to which study participants get so caught up in the procedures that they forget they are in an experiment In simulation research, Experimental Realism is defined as the extent to which the psychological aspects of the research environment duplicate the real-world environment that is being simulated.


Experimental Realism in psychology refers to the degree to which experimental procedures and manipulations resemble real-world situations and behaviors. It involves creating situations within a laboratory setting that closely mimic real-life scenarios in order to study human behavior and emotions. Researchers strive to achieve a high level of experimental realism to ensure that the findings are applicable to everyday life. This approach allows for a more ecological validity in psychological research, as it provides insights into how individuals would behave in natural settings. Experimental realism is crucial for conducting studies that can be generalized to real-world situations and improve our understanding of human behavior.

Application Areas

  • Social psychology
  • Clinical psychology
  • Industrial-organizational psychology
  • Developmental psychology
  • Cognitive psychology

Treatment and Risks

  • Effective treatments can be developed based on the findings from studies with high experimental realism
  • Risks include the potential for participants to react more strongly to realistic experimental manipulations, which can lead to ethical concerns


  • Studying bystander intervention in emergency situations using staged scenarios
  • Examining conformity to social norms through immersive role-playing tasks
  • Investigating decision-making processes in realistic financial scenarios

Similar Concepts and Synonyms

  • Ecological validity
  • Field studies
  • Naturalistic observation
  • Environmental realism


Experimental realism in psychology focuses on creating experimental conditions that closely resemble real-life situations to study human behavior. By enhancing the ecological validity of research, this approach allows for a better understanding of how individuals would react in natural settings. Achieving high experimental realism is essential for generalizing findings to real-world contexts and improving the applicability of psychological research.