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APS Announces Second Replication Project: Proposals Due April 10, 2014

In March 2013, APS announced the Registered Replication Reports initiative, an innovative plan to oversee and publish multi-center replications of important psychological studies. In this initiative, editors bring interested researchers together with the authors of an influential original study to design a protocol that accurately and directly replicates the original finding. Multiple laboratories then conduct their own independent studies following the approved protocol, and the results from all of these separate studies are published together as a single Registered Replication Report in Perspectives on Psychological Science. All approved replication attempts are published, regardless of outcome, to provide a precise estimate of the size of the effect – one that is free from the bias against negative results that can occur in traditional article formats.

APS is pleased to announce a new Registered Replication Report project is under way. The replication editors at Perspectives on Psychological Science will be reviewing applications to participate in this project through April 10th. Applicants should note that this study requires that subjects be native English speakers. Links to the study protocol and application to participate, as well as to the full project site on Open Science Framework, can be found here.

Significant financial support is available. Researchers can seek funding for expenses related to conducting the replication, such as subject testing fees, materials, and other costs. Applications are available from the replication editors.

This Registered Replication Report will focus on a study reported in a 2011 Psychological Science article by William Hart and Dolores Albarracín entitled “Learning About What Others Were Doing: Verb Aspect and Attributions of Mundane and Criminal Intent for Past Actions.” That article examines how grammatical aspect, or how an action is represented in time, affects the perception of intentionality. The authors were particularly interested in the effect of using the imperfective aspect, in which an action is portrayed as taking place within the flow of time (“he was reading a book”), versus the perfective aspect, which indicates that the action is closed in time (“he read a book”). Researchers have previously found that people generally interpret actions described in the imperfective aspect as unfolding – for example, we tend to picture someone who was running a marathon in mid-stride. In contrast, the perfective aspect implies the action has been completed; we imagine someone who ran a marathon already across the finish line, catching her breath or sipping water.

In the study, subjects were asked to read a case report of a crime in which one man shot another after the two had a verbal dispute. Half the subjects read a perfective-aspect version of the report (“he pulled out his gun and pointed it”) and half read a report in the imperfective aspect (“was pointing it”). Subjects then rated the intentionality of the shooter’s actions on a 10-point scale.

Hart and Albarracín found that those who read the imperfective-aspect account of the incident attributed more intentionality to the shooter than did the subjects who read the perfective-aspect version. This finding has important implications both for the theoretical realm of language processing and for the material domain of criminal justice proceedings, where a lawyer’s phrasing could potentially influence jurors’ view of the case. Because of these important linguistic and legal ramifications, the proposers of this new replication project – Anita Eerland, Andrew Sherrill, Joseph Magliano, and Rolf Zwaan – seek to determine a reliable estimate for the size of this effect.

In 2013, Perspectives on Psychological Science launched the Registered Replication Report initiative with a multi-center replication of Jonathan Schooler and Tonya Engstler-Schooler’s 1990 study on the verbal overshadowing effect. Data collection for that project is nearing completion, and the results will be published in an upcoming issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science.

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