The Use of Within- and Between-Subjects Experimental Designs in Behavioral Accounting Research: A Methodological Note

Phillip D. Harsha and Michael C. Knapp
The growing popularity of ANOVA designs in behavioral accounting research has focused attention on several methodological issues related to their use. Among the most debated of these issues are the comparability of key statistical measures for within- and between-subjects ANOVA designs and the potential impact that experimental artifacts may have on the results of within-subject designs. Regarding the first of these issues, this paper suggests that when comparing the results of the two types of ANOVA designs researchers must consider both the levels of statistical significance achieved and the strength of association between independent and dependent variables. If only levels of statistical significance are considered when making such comparisons, researchers may incorrectly conclude that the results of the two different types of studies are substantively different. This paper also examines the structure of recent within-subject designs and concludes that demand effects can be induced in such designs if a sufficiently "transparent" instrument is used. However, this ability to artificially induce demand effects does not establish that the results of previous, structurally sound within-subject studies have been influenced by demand effects, nor should it deter researchers from using this design when appropriate.

Return to BRIA 1990, Volume 2 Contents