Guest Post: A Tale of Two Papers – Simine Vazire (sometimes i'm wrong)

A Tale of Two Papers

By Michael Inzlicht

  Change is afoot in psychology. After years of bickering on social media and handwringing about whether our field is or is not in serious trouble, some consensus is emerging. Although we might not agree on the severity of our problems, almost no one doubts that our field needs improvement. And we’re now seeing the field take real steps toward that, with new editors stepping in with mandates for genuine and powerful change. As an Associate Editor at a journal I’m very proud of, I have lived through some of this change. While the standards at the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General have always been high, the standards are more stringent now than when I began. Some people interpret this change as a turn toward conservatism, of valuing safe over creative work. While I appreciate this perspective, I disagree. Instead, I see this as a turn toward transparency, as a turn toward robustness. I still value creative research—and demand it of myself and of authors with whom I work, but now I also value transparency, which allows for robustness. Continue reading

Bold changes at Psychological Science – Sanjay Srivastava (The Hardest Science)

Style manuals sound like they ought to be boring things, full of arcane points about commas and whatnot. But Wikipedia’s style manual has an interesting admonition: Be bold. The idea is that if you see something that could be improved, you should dive in and start making it better. Don’t wait until you are ready to be comprehensive, don’t fret about getting every detail perfect. That’s the path to paralysis. Wikipedia is an ongoing work in progress, your changes won’t be the last word but you can make things better. In a new editorial at Psychological Science, interim editor Stephen Lindsay is clearly following the be bold philosophy. He lays out a clear and progressive set of principles for evaluating research. Beware the “troubling trio” of low power, surprising results, and just-barely-significant results. Look for signs of p-hacking. Care about power and precision. Don’t confuse nonsignificant for null. To people who have been paying attention to the science reform discussion of the last few years (and its longstanding precursors), none of this is new. Continue reading

Three Guys Talking About Scales – Michael Kraus (Psych Your Mind)

What follows below is the result of an online discussion I had with psychologists Brent Roberts (BR) and Michael Frank (MF). We discussed scale construction, and particularly, whether items with two response options (i.e., Yes v. No) are good or bad for the reliability and validity of the scale. The answers we came to surprised me--and they might surprise you too!
MK: Twitter recently rolled out a polling feature that allows its users to ask and answer questions of each other. The poll feature allows polling with two possible response options (e.g., Is it Fall? Yes/No). Armed with snark and some basic training in psychometrics and scale construction, I thought it would be fun to pose the following as my first poll:
Said training suggests that, all things being equal, some people are more “Yes” or more “No” than others, so having response options that include more variety will capture more of the real variance in participant responses. To put that into an example, if I ask you if you agree with the statement: “I have high self-esteem.” A yes/no two-item response won’t capture all the true variance in people’s responses that might be otherwise captured by six items ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree. MF/BR, is that how you would characterize your own understanding of psychometrics? Continue reading

super power – Simine Vazire (sometimes i'm wrong)

IMG_5314     IMG_4361     IMG_5682 lazy dog.
hi there.  i'm here to lecture you about power again.  it's what i do for fun.
collecting data is hard.  large samples take time, and resources.  i am sympathetic to the view that it's sometimes ok to have small samples.
but if you're doing a typical social/personality lab experiment, or a correlational study using questionnaire measures, then it's probably not ok.  for those types of studies, adequate power should be a basic requirement for publishing your work in a good journal.*
when i hear people push back against the call for larger samples because they are sticking up for people who use hard-to-collect data, i scratch my head.  those people are exactly why i think we absolutely need to increase the sample size of typical social/personality studies.  if some of our colleagues are busting their asses measuring cortisol four times a day for weeks, or coding couples' behavior as they discuss marital problems, and even they can get samples of 100 or 200, then the least the rest of us can do is get a couple hundred undergrads to come to our labs for an hour.
when i see a simple lab/questionnaire study that has a smaller sample size than many super-hard-to-collect studies, it makes me sad.
today, i want to introduce you to two of my favorite researchers who do some of the hardest research i know of.  i picked them because they study super important questions with incredibly rigorous methods. Continue reading

Can the Experience of Awe Open the Mind? – Scott McGreal (Unique—Like Everybody Else)

People who are open to experience are more prone to experiencing awe. Is it possible that profound experiences of awe could also induce greater open-mindedness? Mystical experiences under the influence of psychedelics can increase openness to experience. Perhaps such experiences are so awe-inspiring that create a deeper and lasting appreciation for the mystery of life.

The Colorful Personality: Another Face of the Dark Side? – Scott McGreal (Unique—Like Everybody Else)

People with colorful personalities, or histrionic traits, can be entertaining yet also very self-centered. Charming and theatrical, they may use social skills to exploit others. The colorful personality may be an addition to the growing list of dark personalities.

Thought Fragments Concerning Ideology in Social Science – Michael Kraus (Psych Your Mind)

I took a course in sociology my first year as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley. The course was an introduction to sociology taught by professor and social activist, Harry Edwards. The course blew me away because it felt so viscerally real. Professor Edwards would talk about social class, race, and gender in America and students would chime in about their own experiences that brought these big social constructs to life. What I learned in Professor Edwards’ class resembled nothing we had discussed in my high school history classes—I grew up in a politically conservative suburb in San Diego, and we didn’t have much ideological diversity in our discussions of law and society. Sociology, and social sciences more broadly, really spoke to me.
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