DMT: Gateway to Reality, Fantasy or What? – Scott McGreal (Unique—Like Everybody Else)

The bizarre phenomenon of encounters with non-human entities under the influence of DMT has inspired both mystical and scientific speculations. Greater understanding of the psychological and personality characteristics of DMT users might help shed light on this curious phenomenon. read more

Does Power Help or Hurt Perspective-Taking? – Amie Gordon (Psych Your Mind)

First comes love, then comes the realization that we are navigating life’s journey with another person who may have different thoughts, feelings, and beliefs than us. How do we deal with having differing viewpoints from our romantic partners? Perspective-taking is a fundamental social skill that helps us smoothly steer through the many bumps in the road, from picking out a thoughtful anniversary gift to helping us reach a compromise on a contentious issue. When people are able to consider their partner’s point of view, both they and their partners report being more satisfied with their relationship (Long, 1990). Although this basic skill is fundamental and beneficial, not everyone is good at perspective-taking, particularly in their romantic relationships (Kenny & Acitelli, 2001). So who is good at perspective-taking and who is lacking? To answer this question, I turned to the research on power. I was curious to find out whether feeling powerful in a romantic relationship might lead people to be better, or worse, perspective-takers.
Power is potent, affecting how people think, feel, and interact with others. Although thinking about powerful people might bring to mind the caricature of a power-hungry CEO, the reality is that power is not just in the workplace, it is part of all of our relationships, shaping how we interact with our parents, friends, and romantic partners. So how exactly does it shape our relationships? Or, in our case, our ability to step into our partner’s shoes? Well, the old adage, “power corrupts,” suggests that powerful people should be selfish, caring only about getting their own way and paying little attention to what their romantic partners are thinking and feeling. And there is research to support this – people are less likely to take strangers’ perspectives when they feel powerful (Galinsky et al., 2006) and in families, powerful members are less likely to perspective take (Barber, 1984). Continue reading

Personality, Your Money, and Your Health – Howard Friedman (Secrets of Longevity)

What does your health and happiness have to do with your money? It is not so much what we are hearing about expert decision-making, or about status and stress. read more

The selection-distortion effect: How selection changes correlations in surprising ways – Sanjay Srivastava (The Hardest Science)

A little while back I ran across an idea buried in an old paper of Robyn Dawes that really opened my eyes. It was one of those things that seemed really simple and straightforward once I saw it. But I’d never run across it before.[1] The idea is this: when a sample is selected on a combination of 2 (or more) variables, the relationship between those 2 variables is different after selection than it was before, and not just because of restriction of range. The correlation changes in ways that, if you don’t realize it’s happening, can be surprising and potentially misleading. It can flip the sign of a correlation, or turn a zero correlation into a substantial one. Let’s call it the selection-distortion effect.

First, some background: Dawes was the head of the psychology department at the University of Oregon back in the 1970s. Merging his administrative role with his interests in decision-making, he collected data about graduate admissions decisions and how well they predict future outcomes. He eventually wrote a couple of papers based on that work for Science and American Psychologist. The Science paper, titled “Graduate admission variables and future success,” was about why the variables used to select applicants to grad school do not correlate very highly with the admitted students’ later achievements. Dawes’s main point was to demonstrate why, when predictor variables are negatively correlated with each other, they can be perfectly reasonable predictors as a set even though each one taken on its own has a low predictive validity among selected students.

However, in order to get to his main point Dawes had to explain why the correlations would be negative in the first place. Continue reading

Peak Experiences in Psilocybin Users – Scott McGreal (Unique—Like Everybody Else)

A recent study of intensely positive experiences in people who have used psilocybin found that some users had experienced profoundly altered states of consciousness, including visual hallucinations even when not under the direct influence of the drug. Perhaps psilocybin might have lasting effects on a person’s ability to enter altered states of consciousness without drugs.

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the simpleminded & the muddleheaded – Simine Vazire (sometimes i'm wrong)


i have been sitting on this paul meehl gem for a few months now, ruminating on how it relates to our current situation:

"The two opposite errors to which psychologists, especially clinical psychologists, are tempted are the simpleminded and the muddleheaded (as Whitehead and Russell labeled each other in a famous dinner exchange). The simpleminded, due to their hypercriticality and superscientism and their acceptance of a variant of operationalist philosophy of science (that hardly any historian or logician of science has defended unqualifiedly for at least 30 years), tend to have a difficult time discovering anything interesting or exciting about the mind. The muddleheads, per contra, have a tendency to discover a lot of interesting things that are not so. I have never been able, despite my Minnesota “simpleminded” training, to decide between these two evils. At times it has seemed to me that the best solution is sort of like the political one, namely, we wait for clever muddleheads to cook up interesting possibilities and the task of the simpleminded contingent is then to sift the wheat from the chaff. But I do not really believe this, partly because I have become increasingly convinced that you cannot do the right kind of research on an interesting theoretical position if you are too simpleminded to enter into its frame of reference fully (see, e.g., Meehl, 1970b). One hardly knows how to choose between these two methodological sins." *

here is what i have come up with (i am trying to fit what probably belongs in several separate blog posts into one because i think the points are interconnected.  bear with me.)

1. another way to describe these groups is that the simpleminded are terrified of type I error while the muddleheaded are terrified of type II error. Continue reading

The Real Source of the Replication Crisis – David Funder (funderstorms)

“Replication police.” “P-squashers.” “Hand-wringers.” “Hostile replicators.”  And of course, who can ever forget, “shameless little bullies.”  These are just some of the labels applied to what has become known as the replication movement, an attempt to improve science (psychological and otherwise) by assessing whether key findings can be reproduced in independent laboratories.

Replication researchers have sometimes targeted findings they found doubtful.  The grounds for finding them doubtful have included (a) the effect is “counter-intuitive” or in some way seems odd (1), (b) the original study had a small N and an implausibly large effect size, (c) anecdotes (typically heard at hotel bars during conferences) abound concerning naïve researchers who can’t reproduce the finding, (d) the researcher who found the effect refuses to make data public, has “lost” the data or refuses to answer procedural questions, or (e) sometimes, all of the above.

Fair enough. If a finding seems doubtful, and it’s important, then it behooves the science (if not any particular researcher) to get to the bottom of things.  And we’ve seen a lot of attempts to do that lately. Famous findings by prominent researchers have been put  through the replication wringer, sometimes with discouraging results.  But several of these findings also have been stoutly defended, and indeed the failure to replicate certain prominent effects seems to have stimulated much of the invective thrown at replicators more generally. Continue reading