Swedish researchers concluded that viewing and discussing art soothes the soul and helps relieve medical conditions such as high blood pressure and constipation (AFP International News Agency, October 14, 2005). This conclusion was based on a study in which 20 elderly women gathered once a week to discuss different works of art. The study also included a control group of 20 elderly women who met once a week to discuss their hobbies and interests. At the end of 4 months, the art discussion group was found to have a more positive attitude, to have lower blood pressure, and to use fewer laxatives than the control group.
a. Why would it be important to determine if the researchers assigned the women participating in the study at random to one of the two groups?
b. Explain why you think that the researchers included a control group in this study.

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