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Statistics Organization Speaks Out on P-Values

This is a photo of a hand pointing to a graph.As psychological scientists continue efforts to improve statistical and methodological practices, they can turn to a new resource for guidance. The American Statistical Association (ASA) has released a new statement on the use of p-values in science. The statement suggests researchers should be wary of statistical claims based on p-values alone.

According to the ASA, there is an over-reliance on the p-value in scientific reasoning. Many students of psychological science are taught that obtaining a significant result, p < .05, is a “golden ticket” to publication. Likewise, the scientific community too-frequently rewards studies with significant p-values without considering the validity of other aspects of those studies. These common attitudes may be partly to blame for issues of replicability in science.

“We hoped that a statement from the world’s largest professional…

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Making Connections Within Text: A Review of Anaphor Resolution

In order to be a successful reader, one needs to not only be able to identify individual words, but also to create an ongoing representation of the events described throughout a text. One way this continuity is accomplished is though anaphor resolution. An anaphor is the word that refers to something that was previously introduced within the text. Take the following example:

The word “vehicle” is the anaphor used to refer to the previously mentioned “truck” in the text. The word “truck” is termed the antecedent, while the one or two words following the anaphor (the word “because,” in this example) is termed the postanaphor…

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Replication Effort Finds No Evidence That Grammatical Aspect Affects Perceived Intent

A multi-lab replication project found no evidence that the verb form used to describe a crime influences the way people judge criminal intent, in contrast to previously published findings. The Registered Replication Report (RRR), published in the January 2016 issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science, synthesizes the results from 12 independent replication attempts.

In 2011, William Hart and Dolores Albarracín published a striking study in Psychological Science examining how the verb aspect in which a passage is written affects how that passage is interpreted. In one of their experiments, subjects read a passage describing the shooting of one man by another man after a gambling disagreement. One version of the passage was written in a form called the imperfective aspect (Westmoreland was firing gun shots), and the other passage was written in the perfective aspect (Westmoreland fired gun shots).

Hart…

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What the Rise of Large Datasets Means for Psycholinguistics

The ability to crowdsource data from large groups and the rise of Big Data have helped advance many different areas of psychological research. The field of psycholinguistics — the study of the psychology behind the acquisition, use, production, and comprehension of language — is one of those areas. Such is the importance of Big Data to the field that it was the subject of a special issue, edited by Emmanuel Keuleers (Ghent University, Belgium) and APS Fellow David A. Balota (Washington University in St. Louis, USA) and published in a 2015 issue of The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.

Words are often the main focus of linguistic studies, and variables unique to each word — such as length, pronunciation, frequency, concreteness, and valence — influence how people process and respond to each word. Large datasets that examine these factors allow psychological scientists…

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Fuzzy Thinking Gives Adolescents a Clearer View of Risk

Although many people make risky decisions, one group — adolescents — are the most likely to engage in risky behavior. According to one theory explaining the developmental trajectory of risky decision-making — the imbalance theory — this phenomenon is prevalent in adolescence partly because areas of the brain involved in reward mature before areas of the brain connected with behavioral inhibition and delay of gratification.

In a recent article published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, APS Fellow Valerie F. Reyna, Rebecca B. Weldon, and Michael McCormick, all of Cornell University, describe how a second theory — fuzzy-trace theory (FTT) — may provide suggestions about altering adolescents’ tendency toward risky behavior.

Although FTT is…

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