We will use this space each week in the news blast for Justin to share new ideas he thinks may be of interest for our behavioral & experimental community. If you ever have ideas for topics, please share your ideas with
This Week's BRITE Idea:
This week's BRITE Ideas comes from a paper that Jordan Tong (a frequent BRITE user and one of the faculty on the advisory board for BRITE Lab) sent along. The paper is by Klaus Fiedler from the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science (
Fiedler makes an argument that more psychological (and I'd read that also more generally as behavioral) research should be based on "a priori theorizing". His broad point is that we should not be running experiments just to test for interesting phenomena. If we are very phenomena focused, it leads (in part) to the problem that many seemingly interesting findings might simply not be true. Instead, he argues that we should be developing generalizable theories about the world, individual behavior, etc... and designing experiments that shed light on those theories.
I've seen the power of this in my own work. A number of my field experiments were conducted with only vague ideas in mind and sometimes we got something interesting. But the best things I've done have been the cases where we actually wrote down a simple model and figured out what our theory had to say in conjunction with designing our experiment. Jordan's work uniformly reflects this perspective (which is part of why he sent it along). There are, of course, counter-arguments and other ways of doing things. But I think this is a worthy read.