Armchair, field and laboratory

Clark and Bangerter (2004: 25) have introduced the notions of “armchair”, “field” and “laboratory” to refer to three different ways of doing pragmatic research. In a nutshell, they describe these approaches as follows:

Language use isn’t easy to study. It has been investigated largely by three methods – intuition, experiment and observation. With intuitions, you imagine examples of language used in this or that situation and ask yourself whether they are grammatical or ungrammatical, natural or unnatural, appropriate or inappropriate. This was Searle’s method. With experiments, you invite people into the laboratory, induce them to produce, comprehend or judge samples of language, and measure their reactions. With observations, you note what people say or write as they go about their daily business. We will name these methods by their characteristic locations: armchair, laboratory and field.
All these methods have been used for speech act research.