Skip to main content

Counterbalancing for serial order carryover effects in experimental condition orders

Brooks, Joseph L (2012) Counterbalancing for serial order carryover effects in experimental condition orders. Psychological Methods, 17 (4). pp. 600-614. ISSN 1082-989X. (doi:10.1037/a0029310) (KAR id:33134)


Reactions of neural, psychological, and social systems are rarely, if ever, independent of previous inputs and states. The potential for serial order carryover effects from one condition to the next in a sequence of experimental trials makes counterbalancing of condition order an essential part of experimental design. Here, a method is proposed for generating counterbalanced sequences for repeated-measures designs including those with multiple observations of each condition on one participant and self-adjacencies of conditions. Condition ordering is reframed as a graph theory problem. Experimental conditions are represented as vertices in a graph and directed edges between them represent temporal relationships between conditions. A counterbalanced trial order results from traversing an Euler circuit through such a graph in which each edge is traversed exactly once. This method can be generalized to counterbalance for higher order serial order carryover effects as well as to create intentional serial order biases. Modern graph theory provides tools for finding other types of paths through such graph representations, providing a tool for generating experimental condition sequences with useful properties.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1037/a0029310
Uncontrolled keywords: counterbalancing, experimental design, order
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Joe Brooks
Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2013 13:40 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:10 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.