March Methodology Madness

Borrowing from the “March Madness” college basketball tournament in the United States, the Observer presents our annual look at methodology innovations and research practices.

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Volume 32, Issue3March 2019

About the Observer

Published 6 times per year by the Association for Psychological Science, the Observer educates and informs on matters affecting the research, academic, and applied disciplines of psychology; promotes the scientific values of APS members; reports on issues of international interest to the psychological science community; and provides a vehicle for the dissemination on information about APS.

APS members receive online and print subscriptions to the Observer, including the online archive going back to 1988. The print edition is a member-only benefit.

Looking to connect with the Observer? Visit our Contact the Editor page to discuss writing for us and our Advertising page for sponsorship opportunities. If you have questions about your subscription, please email APS@psychologicalscience.org.

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    Myths and Misinformation

    How does misinformation spread and how do we combat it? Psychological science sheds light on the mechanisms underlying misinformation and ‘fake news.’

Featured


Up Front


  • Psychological Science as a Source of Wisdom for Antitrust

    Eleanor M. Fox is the Walter J. Derenberg Professor of Trade Regulation at New York University School of Law. She is much in demand as an expert in competition (antitrust) law, both in the US and internationally, and has advised many US governing bodies as well as those of numerous younger countries in Africa, Europe, and Asia on the complexities of and needs for for competition law. Some of that thinking is evident in the piece she generously wrote for the Observer. She is a fellow of the American and New York Bar Foundations, served on the Executive Committee and as Vice President of the Association of the Bar of New York City and the American Bar Association Antitrust Law Section, has coauthored or edited more than eight books on competition law, and served on numerous national and international committees.

Practice


  • Teaching Current Directions in Psychological Science

    Aimed at integrating cutting-edge psychological science into the classroom, Teaching Current Directions in Psychological Science offers advice and how-to guidance about teaching a particular area of research or topic in psychological science that has been the focus of an article in the APS journal Current Directions in Psychological Science. Current Directions is a peer-reviewed bimonthly journal featuring reviews by leading experts covering all of scientific psychology and its applications and allowing readers to stay apprised of important developments across subfields beyond their areas of expertise. Its articles are written to be accessible to nonexperts, making them ideally suited for use in the classroom. Visit the column for supplementary components, including classroom activities and demonstrations. Visit David G. Myers at his blog “Talk Psych”.

First Person


  • Student Notebook: Making the Most of Academic Conventions

    Academic conventions represent important parts of academic life. Going to an academic convention is an exciting opportunity to connect with colleagues and exchange stimulating ideas; however, conventions can easily feel overwhelming and intimidating. That, in combination with the stress of leaving behind classes, labs, and ongoing projects to fly across the country and navigate a new city, can leave many attendees feeling anxious, distracted, and stressed. The first national academic convention that I attended was the 26th Annual APS Convention in San Francisco, as a middle author on a poster. I attended several symposia and explored poster sessions, but I felt unsure of where I fit in or what I was supposed to be doing at the event. Now, after attending many other conventions, I have gained insight into how to make the most of the academic convention.

More From This Issue


  • Researchers Propose a New Framework for Understanding Self-Control: PSPI

    Whether we want to spend less time looking at screens, to eat more vegetables, or to save money for retirement, we often strive to forego the behavior we want to engage in for the one we think we should engage in. In a new report, leading researchers in behavioral science propose a new framework that outlines different types of self-control strategies and underscores how effective self-control entails much more than sheer willpower. The report, authored by APS Fellow Angela L. Duckworth (University of Pennsylvania), David Laibson (Harvard University), and Katherine L.

  • AMPPS Review Shows Shortcomings in Policy Statements on the Effects of Media Use

    As different forms of media infuse everyday life, several organizations and associations have issued public statements about the effects of media exposure. However, a scholarly review suggests that many of these statements do not accurately reflect the available scientific evidence, offering overly simplified or one-sided accounts of the scientific research. The findings are published in Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science.

  • Longitudinal Data Show No Evidence of Teens’ Social Media Use Leading to Depression

    Longitudinal data from adolescents and young adults show no evidence that social media use predicts later depressive symptoms, according to research published in Clinical Psychological Science. However, the findings do show that relatively higher depressive symptoms predicted later social media use among adolescent girls. This research stands in contrast with recent claims that adolescents’ use of social media may lead to depression. Those claims are based primarily on studies that examined associations between average social media use and average well-being measured at a single point in time.

  • New Replicability Project Bolsters Research Correlating Personality Traits and Life Outcomes

    Ample research has identified links between personality traits and dozens of life outcomes, ranging from marital stability to vocational success. But how reliable are those findings? Results of a replication project, results of which will be published in Psychological Science, show that this literature provides a reasonably accurate map of the relationship between personality and various aspects of one’s life. The results of the project “provide grounds for cautious optimism about the personality-outcome literature,” author Christopher J. Soto of Colby College writes.

  • How Marginal Are ‘Marginally Significant’ p-Values?

    As the research community debates whether the p-value should be swept into the statistical dustbin, the question remains: How are authors actually presenting p-values? Are authors reporting only the values that make the .05 cutoff or are they reporting every p-value, significant or not? And for the values that reside above .05, how often do authors succumb to the temptation of the “marginally significant”? In a 2016 study in Psychological Science, Pritschet and colleagues found cause for concern, showing an increase in the number of articles containing marginally significant results reported over time. But Tilburg University researchers Anton Olsson-Collentine, Marcel A. L. M.

  • NIH Training Opportunities in Psychological Science

    Officials from the leading health research agency in the United States detail the multitude of training opportunities available to psychological researchers interested in investigating the behavioral aspects of disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

  • Back Page: Experiments in Different ‘Worlds’

    Using virtual reality as an experimental tool, APS Fellow Alan Kingstone and psychological scientist Andrew C. Gallup are exploring how basic human behaviors differ between the real world and simulated environments. What prompted your idea to examine people’s behavioral responses in virtual environments compared to real life? Both of us are tremendously committed to conducting research that has a clear and direct relevance to everyday life. As people expect virtual reality (VR) experiences to mimic actual reality, and so to induce similar forms of thought and behaviour, introducing VR into our research programs was a natural step.

  • How to Maintain Data Quality When You Can’t See Your Participants

    Online data collection makes recruiting study participants faster and easier, but at what cost? Psychological scientist Jennifer Rodd of University College London outlines the steps researchers should take to manage the uncertainty inherent in remote experimentation.

  • Studying People in Their Local Environments

    An RV-style mobile lab is helping Cornell University researchers, including psychological scientist Neil Lewis, Jr., study hard-to-reach populations in their home settings.