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Posts uit 2013 tonen

Time, Money, and Morality

A paper that is in press in Psychological Science tests the hypothesis that priming someone with the concept of time makes them cheat less than someone who is not thusly primed. Or, as the authors articulate the idea in in the abstract:  Across  four experiments, we examined whether shifting focus onto time can salvage individuals’ ethicality.  I've said a lot already about the type of theorizing and experimenting in this type of priming research, so I just want to keep it simple this time and concentrate on something that is currently under fire in the literature, even on the pages of Psychological Science itself , the p-value.  As the abstract indicates, there are four experiments. In each experiment, the key prediction is that exposure to the "time-prime" causes people to cheat less. Each prediction is evaluated on the basis of a p-value. In Experiment 1, the prediction was that subjects would cheat less in the "time-prime" condition than in the c

What Can we Learn from the Many Labs Replication Project?

The first massive replication project in psychology has just reached completion (several others are to follow). A large group of researchers, which I will refer to as ManyLabs, has attempted to replicate 15 findings from the psychological literature in various labs across the world. The paper is posted on the Open Science Framework (along with the data) and Ed Yong has authored a very accessible write-up . [ Update May 20, 2014, the article is out now and is open access.] What can we learn from the ManyLabs project? The results here show the effect sizes for the replication efforts (in green and grey) as well as the original studies (in blue). The 99% confidence intervals are for the meta-analysis of the effect size (the green dots); the studies are ordered by effect size. Let’s first consider what we canNOT learn from these data. Of the 13 replication attempts (when the first four are taken together), 11 succeeded and 2 did not (in fact, at some point ManyLabs su

Premature Experimentation: Revaluing the Role of Essays and Thought Experiments

Some years ago I served as an outside member on a dissertation committee in a linguistics department. The graduate student in question wanted to conduct experiments, an unusual idea for a linguist. When the idea was discussed during the initial committee meeting, a colleague from the linguistics department sighed and said dismissively Ah, experiments. Psychologists always want to do experiments because they don’t know what’s going on . The years had not yet mellowed me (ahem), so I had to bite back a snide comment. But now I’m starting to wonder if that linguist didn’t have a point after all. Isn’t our field suffering from premature experimentation? Don’t we all have a tendency to design and run experiments before research questions have been really thought through? I see four major sets of reasons why this might be the case. Institutional. Empirical articles are the principal currency of our field, so there exists an incentive structure to design and run experiments.

"Effects are Public Property and not Personal Belongings": a Post-Publication Conversation

Welcome to a post-publication conversation on social-cognitive priming!  The impetus for the conversation is a social-cognitive priming article by Jostmann, Lakens, and Schubert that was  published in 2009 in  Psychological Science . The article is interesting enough in and of itself but what makes it an even more interesting discussion topic is that the authors themselves have performed and reported replication attempts of some of their findings. In addition, there are replication attempts by others. The authors of the 2009 study, Nils Jostmann (NJ), DaniĆ«l Lakens (DL), and Thomas Schubert (TS), plus the author of a replication study, Hans IJzerman (HIJ), kindly agreed to respond to a series of questions I had prepared for them about the research. This allows a behind-the-scenes look of the original study, the decisions to perform replications, the evaluation of the replication attempts, and overall assessments of the main finding. The responses, which were given via email, are all

David Sedaris and the Power of the Spoken Word

Last week, David Sedaris gave a reading in Amsterdam as part of his latest book tour. When the performance was over, it dawned on me that something remarkable had happened. More than a thousand Dutch people had just stared for almost two hours at a soft-spoken and not physically imposing American man who was reading from sheets of paper. What was going on? In our modern culture we don't seem to be able to get by without visuals. Schoolbooks are littered with photographs, diagrams, and figures. Most professors are incapable of lecturing without PowerPoint. News programs feature a plethora of graphs, pie charts, and animations. Heck, there even is a photograph on the left of this paragraph! David Sedaris didn’t strut and prance across the stage while gesturing maniacally like a stand-up comedian or an overly excited TED-talker. He didn’t bring any visual props with him and certainly no PowerPoint presentation. Instead he was standing rather motionlessly

30 Questions about Priming with Science and the Department of Corrections

We know about claims that priming with “professor” makes you perform better on a general knowledge test but apparently the benefits of science don’t stop there. A study published earlier this year reports findings that priming with science-related words ( logical , theory, laboratory, hypothesis, experiment ) makes you more moral. Aren’t we scientists great or what? But before popping the cork on a bottle of champagne, we might want to ask some questions, not just about the research itself but also about the review and publishing process involving this paper. So here goes. (1) The authors note (without boring the reader with details) that philosophers and historians have argued that science plays a key role in the moral vision of a society of “mutual benefit.” From this they derive the prediction that this notion of science facilitates moral and prosocial judgments. Isn’t this a little fast? (2) Images of the “evil scientist” (in movies usually portrayed by an actor with a vag