Category Archives: Psych Your Mind

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

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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Teaching Undergrads vs. MBAs: Four Observations – Michael Kraus (Psych Your Mind)

Hello and sorry I've been away from blogging for so long! I ended up switching departments and jobs--now I work at Yale University at the School of Management. As you might imagine, a lot of things have changed as a result of the move. What I'd like to do today is to briefly summarize what stuck out to me as the main differences between teaching undergraduate psychology majors and first year MBAs. A note of caution before we dive in: I've only spent about 27 hours teaching MBAs and three years teaching psychology undergraduates, so it's possible that I know little to nothing about teaching BOTH groups. Also, the undergraduates and MBAs experienced different courses and come from different universities, so the differences I observed might not reflect MBA/undergrad distinctions. What is reported here is simply one person's observations from a relatively short time period. Read More->

Gender Imbalance in Discussions of Best Research Practices – Michael Kraus (Psych Your Mind)

Over the last couple of weeks there have been some really excellent blog posts about gender representation in discussions of best research practices. The first was a shared Email correspondence between Simine Vazire and Lee Jussim. The second was a report of gender imbalance in discussions of best research practices by Alison Ledgerwood, Elizabeth Haines, and Kate Ratliff. Before then (May 2014), Sanjay Srivastava wrote about a probable diversity problem in the best practices debate. Go read these posts! I'll be here when you return. Read More->

SPSP 2015: Actually Predicting the Future – Michael Kraus (Psych Your Mind)

In regression (a common statistical practice used in social science research) we often attempt to predict the outcome of a given dependent measure (the DV) based on what we know about other measured variables theoretically related to the DV (the IVs). This common regression method has one problem though: We are predicting values for data that we have already collected. What if we were to engage in actual prediction? That is, what if we attempted to predict the values of a DV that is unknown? How might we do this and what would be the benefit?
This was a fascinating talk presented by Liz Page-Gould of the University of Toronto at the Future of Social Psychology Symposium!
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Everyone Gets a Job! – Michael Kraus (Psych Your Mind)

A terrifying graph for any PhD student! (source)
It's late October and that means we are squarely in the middle of job season for psychology PhDs (and PhD candidates). I was hired during the 2011-2012 job cycle, and so I recently switched to the evaluation side of the job process. Sitting on this side of the fence I feel incredibly fortunate to have a job: There are a ton of accomplished graduate students and postdocs with strong records, interesting research ideas, and stellar (!!!) letters of recommendation. If the system were running optimally, most of these applicants would land jobs. If the system were running optimally... 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