Tag Archives: Association for Psychological Science

Becoming a better consumer of research

5 Apr

This article, published by the Association for Psychological Science, is aimed at improving the skills of university students, but I think everyone could benefit from a better understanding of research.

Consistent with my experience, author Beth Morling tells us that her students “almost always think larger samples are more representative.” When evaluating research, she advises us to pay attention to four types of validity:

“external validity (the extent to which a study’s findings can generalize to other populations and settings

internal validity (the ability of a study to rule out alternative explanations and support a causal claim);

construct validity (the quality of the study’s measures and manipulations); and
statistical validity (the appropriateness of the study’s conclusions based on statistical analyses).
To evaluate any study they read, students can ask questions in these four categories:
“Can we generalize?” (External);
“Was it an experiment? If so, was it a good one?” (Internal);
“How well did they operationalize that variable?” (Construct); and
“Did they have enough people to detect an effect? How big was the effect? Is it significant?” (Statistical).”

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Time of day affects ethics

13 Feb

A paper in Psychological Science reports that time a day affects moral behavior. The abstract:

“Are people more moral in the morning than in the afternoon? We propose that the normal, unremarkable experiences associated with everyday living can deplete one’s capacity to resist moral temptations. In a series of four experiments, both undergraduate students and a sample of U.S. adults engaged in less unethical behavior (e.g., less lying and cheating) on tasks performed in the morning than on the same tasks performed in the afternoon. This morning morality effect was mediated by decreases in moral awareness and self-control in the afternoon. Furthermore, the effect of time of day on unethical behavior was found to be stronger for people with a lower propensity to morally disengage. These findings highlight a simple yet pervasive factor (i.e., the time of day) that has important implications for moral behavior.”

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Not genes versus environment

20 Dec

Most people think that the question is nature versus nurture. The reality is much much complex and much more interesting.

The current issue of The Observer, a publication of the Association for Psychological Science, includes the following quiz:

  1. Cognitive ability in the industrialized world “is approximately 50% to 70% heritable,” reports the Tucker-Drob team. This means that
    1. 50% to 70% of one’s cognitive ability is attributable to one’s genes.
    2. 50% to 70% of the variation among individuals is attributable to their genes.
  2. The genetic influence on intelligence scores (heritability) is greatest
    1. early in life (for example, at age 3), before varied experiences diverge our life courses.
    2. later in life (for example, at age 50 and beyond).
  3. The genetic influence on intelligence scores is greatest among those
    1. at lower socioeconomic levels.
    2. at higher socioeconomic levels.
  4. Increasing the quality and availability of educational opportunity serves to
    1. decrease the genetic influence on intelligence scores.
    2. Increase the genetic influence on intelligence scores.

You can find the answers here. For a deeper discussion see the original paper.

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Psychological science for a better society

1 Sep

There is a nice article in the most recent issue of the Observer, a publication of the Association for Psychological Science, about how psychological research can help design more effective social policy.

According to the article:

“Habit, convenience, and temptation often hamper the most conscientious goals. But behavioral science is showing that those same forces can be rerouted to make fitness and thrift more rewarding than indolence and waste. Amid concerns about rampant obesity, climate change, and aging Baby Boomers with scant retirement savings, psychological scientists are teaming with economists, business leaders, and policymakers to compel people to take better care of themselves, their communities, and the environment.”

Daniel Wegner

17 Aug

I just learned from Mind Hacks that psychologist Daniel Wegner died last month. Some years ago I had the pleasure of hearing Wegner speak at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science about his book, The Illusion of Conscious WillThis is a book is a classic and needs to read by anyone interested in the question of human free will.

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