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Experimental criminology: looking back and forward on the 20th anniversary of the Academy of Experimental Criminology

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Abstract

Objectives

This article summarizes key points made in a panel at the American Society of Criminology (ASC) meeting in Atlanta in November 2018, entitled “20th Anniversary of the Academy of Experimental Criminology (AEC): Looking Back and Forward,” organized by Friedrich Lösel as the AEC president.

Method

Seven (current and former) presidents of AEC contribute short papers about the past and future of experimental criminology, focusing on different and emerging areas of criminological experimentation, as well as identifying topics that require more attention in future, including field experiments and experimental neurocriminology.

Results

This article informs readers about the history of AEC, its links with the Journal of Experimental Criminology, current issues, and potential future developments in experimental criminology. It also briefly deals with arguments that question whether experiments are the “gold standard,” which were addressed by Daniel Nagin and Robert Sampson in another ASC session at Atlanta. Experimental panel members did not view randomized controlled trials (RCTs) as a ritualized and general “gold standard” for criminological research, because many important topics cannot be investigated in this type of design.

Conclusions

This article is not intended to be a missionary statement for RCTs, but it does argue that experiments should be used whenever feasible, because they are most robust in ensuring internal validity as the basis for external validity and for generalizations that are necessary for effective practice and policy making.

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Farrington, D.P., Lösel, F., Braga, A.A. et al. Experimental criminology: looking back and forward on the 20th anniversary of the Academy of Experimental Criminology. J Exp Criminol 16, 649–673 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11292-019-09384-z

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