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Posts uit maart, 2013 tonen

Beware of Voodoo Experimentation

In my previous post I described our replication attempt of Experiment 1 from Vohs and Schooler (2008) . They found large effects of a manipulation of belief in free will (via the reading of passages) on people’s reported belief in free will and on subsequent cheating behavior. We tried to replicate these findings using Mechanical Turk but obtained null results. What might account for the stark differences between our findings and those of V&S? And, in the spirit of the educational roots of this project, what lessons can we learn from this attempt at replication? One obvious difference between our findings and those of V&S is in subject populations. Our subjects had an average age of 33 (range 18-69) and were native speakers of English residing in the US (75 males and 77 females). The distribution of education levels was as follows: high school (13%), college no-degree (33%), associate’s degree (13%), bachelor (33%), and master’s/PhD (8%). How about t

The Value of Believing in Free Will: A Replication Attempt

update February 26, 2014. Early March we'll be submitting a manuscript that includes both the experiment described here and another replication attempt run in the lab. Earlier this year I taught a new course titled Foundations of Cognition . The course is partly devoted to theoretical topics and partly to methodological issues. One of the theoretical topics is free will and one of the methodological topics is replication. There is a lab associated with the course and I thought we’d be killing two birds with one stone if we’d try to replicate a study that was discussed in the first, theoretical, part of the course. The students would then have hands-on experience with replication of a study that they were familiar with. Moreover, we could discuss the results in the context of the methodological literature that we read in the second part of the course. The experiment I had selected for our replication attempt was Experiment 1 from Vohs & Schooler (2008) on whether a lowe

Assessing the Armada: Language Comprehension and the Motor System

In the wake of the discovery of mirror neurons an armada of studies on the role of the brain’s motor system in language processing has appeared over the horizon the past decade. We review some of this work  here . Behavioral studies have shown interactions between reading and motor tasks and brain-imaging studies have shown that (pre)-motor areas of the brain are active during the processing of action words and action sentences. Some researchers have taken mirror neuron theory and these results to mean that the motor system plays a central role in language comprehension, whereas others are downright skeptical about the role of the motor system. In our own behavioral studies, we have found interactions between language comprehension and motor actions. Although one can draw limited conclusions from such experiments, they do suggest that motor resonance is modulated by sentence context. You can observe interactions between reading and action only when the focus of th