The Field Experiment of Religion Research Network

Promoting the Use of Field Experiments to Study Religion


About Us

What’s FERRN

The Field Experiment of Religion Research Network (FERRN) is a network of researchers who are interested in the use of field experiments to study religion. It includes researchers who are conducting field experiments themselves as well as those just interested in learning more about them.

FERRN promotes the use of field experiments to transform the study of religion. Past activities have included introductory sessions, training workshops, and a small-grant competition. FERRN also provides informational resources about its activities.

The creation of FERRN, as well as its initial activities, was funded by the John Templeton Foundation.

What is it

What is a Field Experiment 0f Religion?

In general terms, a field experiment of religion is an experiment conducted in the field that measures variation in religion in one of its components.

Experiments come in different flavors. They can be quasi-experiments or true experiments. True experiments, in turn, can be conducted in the laboratory or in a naturalistic setting. True experiments in a naturalistic setting can use laboratory-style or naturalistic treatments.

How it works

Strategies for Designing a Field Experiment of Religion

Historically, field experiments haven’t been used as often in the social sciences as observational methods or lab experiments. As such, there is less training in how to do them. Few graduate schools offer seminars in how to conduct a field experiment. Thus, there is not widespread knowledge among researchers in how to design and execute field experiments. As it stands now, someone wanting to conduct a field experiment usually learns by trial-and-error or word-of-mouth. Filling this knowledge gap is a goal of FERRN.

Compounding the problem is that the act of creating a field experiment doesn’t readily lend itself to step-by-step instruction. Field experiments are acts of innovation and creativity. They are like a director making a movie or an entrepreneur starting a business. In contrast, surveys can be designed more methodically. Pick a topic, pick a population, and the rest is following well-established procedures.

There are several general strategies for designing field experiments that have been successfully used in the past. Here are several of them along with illustrations of how they can be applied to the study of religion.

Reach Us

Do you have any questions or comments? Let us know

Bradley Wright PHD

344 Mansfield Road,

Department of Sociology, Unit 1068,

University of Connecticut,

Storrs, CT, 06269

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