Statistics and Probability Dictionary

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Randomized Block Design

With a randomized block design, the experimenter divides subjects into subgroups called blocks, such that the variability within blocks is less than the variability between blocks. Then, subjects within each block are randomly assigned to treatment conditions. Compared to a completely randomized design, this design reduces variability within treatment conditions and potential confounding, producing a better estimate of treatment effects.

Gender Treatment
Placebo Vaccine
Male 250 250
Female 250 250

The table to the right shows a randomized block design for a hypothetical medical experiment. Subjects are assigned to blocks, based on gender. Then, within each block, subjects are randomly assigned to treatments (either a placebo or a cold vaccine). For this design, 250 men get the placebo, 250 men get the vaccine, 250 women get the placebo, and 250 women get the vaccine.

It is known that men and women are physiologically different and react differently to medication. This design ensures that each treatment condition has an equal proportion of men and women. As a result, differences between treatment conditions cannot be attributed to gender. This randomized block design removes gender as a potential source of variability and as a potential confounding variable.

See also:   Experimental Design