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Random assignment: all you need to know

Random assignment can be explained as the use of chance procedures in psychological experiments as it ensures that each participant has the same or equal opportunity to be assigned into any group to gather the most unbiased evidences and results. When forming study groups, the study participants are randomly assigned to groups; be it experimental groups or the treatment group. This can be done with tactics such as flipping a coin, drawing names from a hat, rolling the dice or even assigning numbers to the participants to divide them in groups without any prejudice.


It is essential to understand the difference between random assignment and random selection as both are not the same. When we talk about random selection, it is all about how the participants are randomly chosen to represent the larger population while random assignment is all about how these chosen participants are assigned to the groups for experimentation. 

Random assignment definition 

Random assignment has been defined by the website of Psychology and Society as, “a procedure in conducting experiments in which each participant has the same probability of being assigned to a particular condition of the experiment”.

Example of random assignment 

If a researcher is interested in the influence of music on job motivation, some participants would be assigned to a condition in which they would hear music during their work. The other participants would be assigned a condition in which they would not hear music while working. In such a case, a coin will be flipped or some other means would be used to determine which condition each participant should be assigned. This is the random assignment process in which the participants are assigned to the groups without being given any preferences to what they want or what the experimenter wants. 

Significance of random assignment 

It is necessary to understand why a researcher would randomly assign participants to certain groups for experimentation. The answer to this is that random assignment can allow researchers to rule out the explanations based on personality and individual difference variables. The random assignment makes it possible for participants with certain characteristics to be a part of experiment. 

Random assignment vs random sampling

Random sampling is related to random assignment but it is a distinct process as random sampling is all about recruiting participants in a manner that they present a larger section of population. It is because even the most basic of statistical tests require information and data regarding the randomly sampled population to assess the data and ensure standardized testing conditions. It also helps to ensure that there have been no interferences with the sampling method and it provides controls for all attributes of the members of the samples.

Random sampling is also considered a justified means of selecting a sample from a given population as every member gets equal chance of getting selected for the experiment. It is important to select the people for any experiment in an unbiased random selection so that most accurate conclusions can be drawn. 

Benefits of random assignment

There are multiple benefits of random assignment; its helps to ensure that any differences between and within the groups of participants are not systematic at the beginning of the experiment. Thus, the differences that have been recorded at the end of the experiment can be rightly attributed to the experimental procedures or the treatment and not any other factor. 

Random assignment ensures that each participant in an experiment has the same opportunity to be assigned to any group without any preference or favoritism. The participants for the study are randomly assigned in any group to check out the clarity of results. It is important to realize that random assignment plays a key part in the psychology research process. It helps to eliminate possible sources of bias and makes it easy for the researcher to generalize the results of a population to a larger group.

It ensures that the members of each group in the experiment are the same and the people in the group represent that larger part of the population, clearing of all confusions and misconceptions. With help of this technique, the researchers can study even the most complex phenomena and make the understanding of human mind and behavior easy and convenient. 

With help of random assignment and placement, it becomes easy to select and assign participants for experiments; it can be either humans or animals using any random method so that researchers can look forward to the best results. 

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