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