Read about the latest research published in Psychological Science:
Kyle J. Bourassa, Karen Hasselmo, and David A. Sbarra
Divorce-related stress has been shown to negatively influence later health outcomes. To examine the mechanisms underlying this relationship, researchers measured the respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA; a measure of changes in heart rate during the respiratory cycle) and blood pressure of recently divorced or separated adults while they performed a stressful math task and a divorce-related mental-activation task. The researchers found a positive association between divorce-related distress and blood pressure reactivity in people who had a high RSA at baseline, but not in people with a low RSA at baseline. This suggests that although blood-pressure reactivity may link divorce- and separation-related stress to later health outcomes, this relationship depends on individual differences in RSA.
Benjamin Scheibehenne, Tahira Jamil, and Eric-Jan Wagenmakers
The recent focus on strengthening psychological science has led researchers to place greater value on exact replications and meta-analyses. With this focus comes the question of the best way to combine data from old and new studies. The authors outline a Bayesian approach called Bayesian evidence synthesis, which can distinguish between evidence for the absence of an effect and the absence of evidence for an effect. The authors demonstrate this method by analyzing five replications of a study examining the way descriptive social norms influence towel reusage in hotels. On their own, all five replications failed to support the original study’s findings; however, when the combined studies were analyzed using Bayesian evidence synthesis, evidence for the original effect was obtained, identifying this method as a promising new way to combine and analyze data from multiple studies.