Sunday, October 29, 2017

On tap for later

I am going to have a full schedule through the rest of the semester. Blogging, as always, is on the back burner under those circumstances. When I do resume blogging, I'd love to spend some time on a few facets of research in my field that have been bugging me for quite some time. One area I would love to spend some time on is the use and likely misuse of meta-analyses, especially in highly contentious research areas. As someone who has participated in such research on rare occasion, I might have a few things worth saying, some of which will be definitely have a tell-all flavor. Also on tap is a look at classic research that has failed to replicate, yet still gets reported in textbooks and popular media as "fact" long after being debunked (e.g., ego depletion, facial feedback, Type A/B Personality).

In the meantime, I have some awesome student research projects to supervise. Undergraduate students are a blast to work with, especially those who are truly enthusiastic about the research enterprise and who have yet to reach the sort of Kurt Vonnegut-style jadedness that seems to settle in on those of us at mid-career. I have some small projects conducted with some former students that need writing up. These will probably not go to top-tier journals, as our work is more often than not attempting some form of replication using diverse but ultimately college student samples, or is very exploratory research that would probably be deemed unimportant to the premier outlets. Those manuscripts will get submitted to legitimate peer-review journals and we'll eventually get some hopefully necessary lines added to their CVs as they head to grad programs. I also have my usual social psych and stats courses to finish up. Those are inevitably fun for me.

A little reflection: in the academic world, one does not often land in a college or university that generally functions well, where the members of one's department generally get along well with one another, and in which one can make lasting friendships within the community - completely unconnected to the college or university. I am one of those lucky individuals who managed to do so, quite by happenstance. In a very real and fundamental sense, I have everything I would want and everything I need. For that I am truly grateful. The academic environment, more broadly, is one that so often pushes its members to believe that they need to compete for "opportunities" that they will not want and which will only leave them unsatisfied and miserable, all the while being pushed to believe that they will find "more" of whatever they really don't want elsewhere. My advice is not to fall into that line of thinking. It is a trap. If you've got it good, enjoy. Smell the roses occasionally. You'll be better off for it.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

John Oliver on science

I love this humorous clip from John Oliver's HBO series. Oliver touches on a number of key topics, from some of the questionable research practices that have led to some legitimate concerns that we will be wrestling with for some time to come, as well as how poorly science gets portrayed in the mass media.

Monday, October 9, 2017

More on violent video games and aggression

Just to drive home the point about how to best make sense of the impact of violent video games on aggressive behavioral outcomes, here is an entertaining clip from one of my favorite series, Spaced:

Please note that this is actually a fair (and humorous) portrayal of the short-term impacts of playing violent video games. In this case, when interrupted during game play (think of that as a form of high frustration) Tim is considerably more rude to Daisy, his flatmate, than he would ordinarily be - a fact that Daisy clearly recognizes. In other words, yes, there is a real short-term impact of playing violent video games on aggressive behavioral outcomes, but those behavioral outcomes are likely quite mundane. Although I do think that these are outcomes that could be potentially damaging to interpersonal relationships, and that is a conclusion that I am confident the research would allow me to make, I don't see any substantial risk of violent video game play and actual real world violence. If you are a gamer, there is no need to panic. If you live with a gamer, as I do, expect that occasionally they will behave like jerks if they misattribute their arousal to a minor frustration rather than to the content of the game itself. So yes, the research findings on video game violence and aggression are real, but please, be responsible when interpreting those findings. I'd rather the research invite healthy skepticism rather than cynicism. In the meantime, I'm eager to get the latest version of Wolfenstein.