The Personality Parsimony Myth

I woke one recent morning to this text from my girlfriend: “Today’s episode of Invisibilia is called ‘The Personality Myth’!” She is, like many extraverts, easily enthused,[1] so there was no way to tell if the exclamation point indicated glee or dismay. Both emotions would’ve been reasonable. Our field — personality psychology — doesn’t get much coverage from science journalists. Nor should it, I suppose. We don’t search for new planets or cure epidemics or mash together previously unobserved physical matter. Still, use of the word “myth” was unsettling… “a widely held but false belief or idea.” Continue reading →

The Mating Strategies of Extraverts – Scott McGreal (Unique—Like Everybody Else)

Life History Theory views long-term and short-term mating strategies as polar opposites. However, some people, particularly extraverts, may pursue both, others neither.

don’t you know who i am? – Simine Vazire (sometimes i'm wrong)

 [DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in my posts are personal opinions, and they do not reflect the editorial policy of Social Psychological and Personality Science or its sponsoring associations, which are responsible for setting editorial policy for the journal.]

Elephantseal05elephant seal, throwing his weight around

when i started my first job as associate editor, i was worried that i would get a lot of complaints from disgruntled authors.  i wasn't afraid of the polite appeals based on substantive issues, i was worried about the complaints that appeal to the authors' status, the "don't you know who i am?" appeal.

i never did get that kind of response, at least not from authors. but i saw something worse - a pretty common attitude that we should be judging papers based, in part, on who wrote them.  socially sanctioned status bias. not so much at the journals i worked with, but in the world of journals more broadly. like the Nature editorial, on whether there should be author anonymity in peer review, that argued that "identifying authors stimulates referees to ask appropriate questions (for example, differentiating between a muddy technical explanation and poor experimental technique)." the argument seems to be that some people should be given a chance to clear up their muddy explanations and others should not. or the editor who wrote in The Chronicle of Higher Education just a few days ago that "Editors rarely send work out to trusted reviewers if it comes from unproven authors using jazz-hands titles."  leaving aside the contentious issue of jazz-hand titles, when did we accept that it was ok to treat papers from 'unproven authors' differently? Continue reading

Don’t change your family-friendly tenure extension policy just yet – Sanjay Srivastava (The Hardest Science)

pixelated something If you are an academic and on social media, then over the last weekend your feed was probably full of mentions of an article by economist Justin Wolfers in the New York Times titled “A Family-Friendly Policy That’s Friendliest to Male Professors.” It describes a study by three economists of the effects of parental tenure extension policies, which give an extra year on the tenure clock when people become new parents. The conclusion is that tenure extension policies do make it easier for men to get tenure, but they unexpectedly make it harder for women. The finding has a counterintuitive flavor – a policy couched in gender-neutral terms and designed to help families actually widens a gender gap. Except there are a bunch of odd things that start to stick out when you look more closely at the details, and especially at the original study. Let’s start with the numbers in the NYT writeup:

The policies led to a 19 percentage-point rise in the probability that a male economist would earn tenure at his first job. In contrast, women’s chances of gaining tenure fell by 22 percentage points. Before the arrival of tenure extension, a little less than 30 percent of both women and men at these institutions gained tenure at their first jobs.

Two things caught my attention when I read this. Continue reading

your inner third grader – Simine Vazire (sometimes i'm wrong)

 [DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in my posts are personal opinions, and they do not reflect the editorial policy of Social Psychological and Personality Science or its sponsoring associations, which are responsible for setting editorial policy for the journal.]


it felt like a confessional. 'sometimes, we say we predicted things that we didn't actually predict.'  i paused, embarrassed.  'i know.' 'i'm sorry,' she said, 'but that sounds like something even a third grader would know is wrong.' 'i know.' i tried not to make excuses, but to explain how this happened.  how an entire field convinced itself that HARKing (Hypothesizing After the Results are Known, Kerr, 1998) is ok. Continue reading

The Great Minds Journal Club discusses Westfall & Yarkoni (2016) – Tal Yarkoni ([citation needed])

“Dearly Beloved,” The Graduate Student began. “We are gathered here to–” “Again?” Samantha interrupted. “Again with the Dearly Beloved speech? Can’t we just start a meeting like a normal journal club for once? We’re discussing papers here, not holding a funeral.” “We will discuss papers,” said The Graduate Student indignantly. “In good time. But first, we have to follow the rules of Great Minds Journal Club. There’s a protocol, you know.” Samantha was about to point out that she didn’t know, because The Graduate Student was the sole author of the alleged rules, and the alleged rules had a habit of changing every week. But she was interrupted by the sound of the double doors at the back of the room swinging violently inwards. Continue reading

We Need Federally Funded Daisy Chains – Brent Roberts (pigee)

One of the most provocative requests in the reproducibility crisis was Daniel Kahneman’s call for psychological scientists to collaborate on a “daisy chain” of research replication. He admonished proponents of priming research to step up and work together to replicate the classic priming studies that had, up to that point, been called into question. What happened? Nothing. Total crickets. There were no grand collaborations among the strongest and most capable labs to reproduce each other’s work. Why not? Using 20:20 hindsight it is clear that the incentive structure in psychological science militated against the daisy chain idea. The scientific system in 2012 (and the one currently still in place) rewarded people who were the first to discover a new, counterintuitive feature of human nature, preferably using an experimental method. Since we did not practice direct replications, the veracity of our findings weren’t really the point. The point was to be the discoverer, the radical innovator, the colorful, clever genius who apparently had a lot of flair. If this was and remains the reward structure, what incentive was there or is there to conduct direct replications of your own or other’s work? Continue reading