Ninth Edition CoverGraziano & Raulin
Research Methods (9th edition)

Examples of
Matched-Subjects Designs
from the Research Literature

Example # 1

Treon, M., Dempster, L., & Blaesing, K. (2006). MMPI-2/A assessed personality differences in people who do and do not stutter. Social Behavior and Personality, 34, 271-294.


Previous research indicates that people who stutter may have greater degrees of psychopathology than those who do not stutter. The researchers carefully matched 60 people who stutter with 60 who do not. Matching was done on variables including age, gender, ethnic and racial background, education level, political positions, emotional expression, and introversion/extroversion.  Matching generated 60 matched pairs, one in each pair who stuttered and one who did not. All participants were administered the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory).

The results showed that those who stutter are not generally psychopathological but, compard with non-stutterers, did have a statistically significant tendency toward psychopathology. The researchers discussed their findings and implications for understanding the etiological development of stuttering. 

Example #2

Svanum, S., & McAdoo, W. G. (1989). Predicting rapid relapse following treatment for chemical dependence: A matched-subjects design. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 57, 222-226.


The authors explored variables associated with rapid relapse from an alcohol and drug treatment program. They matched their participants on the basis of MMPI profiles (a test of psychiatric symptomatology). They found that continuing emotional turmoil was associated with poor outcome, but that among the participants without such turmoil, the best predictor of poor outcome was a failure to attend aftercare programs designed to provide continuing support in the community.

Example #3

Stanger, C, Achenbach, T. M., & Verhulst, F. C. (1997). Accelerated longitudinal comparisons of aggressive versus delinquent syndromes. Development and Psychopathology, 9, 43-58.


The authors studied the stability of aggressive and delinquent behavior in 7 cohorts of Dutch children, selected on the basis of the presence of aggressive or delinquent behavior and the age of the participants. Participants for each cohort were matched with participants from the other cohorts. The authors found that aggression declined steadily from about age 4 on, whereas delinquency declined slightly from age 4 until age 10 and then started to increase again, reaching a peak at about age 17. Since both aggressive children and delinquent children are categorized as having conduct problems, the authors suggested that their data suggests that treatment professionals should distinguish between these two types of disorders.

Example #4

Kety, S. S., Rosenthal, D., Wender, P. H., & Schulsinger, F. (1968). The types and prevalence of mental illness in the biological and adoptive families of adoptive schizophrenics. In D. Rosenthal and S. S. Kety (Eds.), The transmission of schizophrenia (pp. 345-362). Oxford: Pergamon.


Perhaps the best example of carefully matched participants in the research literature, this study investigated the rates of schizophrenia and related disorders in matched participants from Denmark. One group consisted of individuals who developed schizophrenia and had been adopted away at birth. The other group consisted of individuals who did not develop schizophrenia and had been adopted away at birth. Each participant had two families. The first was their biological family, who shared their genes but not their environment because the participants never spent time with their biological relatives. The second was their adoptive families, who shared the same environment but not their genes. The participants were matched on such key variables as the social class of biological and adoptive relatives, age, age at adoption, amount of time in foster care, and so on. The authors found elevated risk for schizophrenia only in the biological relatives of those participants who had been diagnosed as schizophrenic, suggesting that genetic factors are a major contributor to this disorder.

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