Kevin Lewis

September 04, 2018

Ideology Between the Lines: Lay Inferences About Scientists’ Values and Motives
Ivar Hannikainen
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming


While philosophers emphasize the distinction between description and prescription, in practice people’s beliefs about contentious issues seem to reflect their normative commitments. Less is known about the way that people infer others’ ideology from their reports about matters of fact. In the context of scientific research on the heritability of intelligence, scientists’ normative views (Study 1a) and motives (Study 2) are inferred from the evidence they report — independently of their stated research objectives. Two preregistered replications (Studies 1b and 3) revealed that these effects generalize to other contentious domains of behavioral and social science research. Thus, laypeople view social scientific inquiry as (partly) a guided pursuit of evidence in favor of scientists’ personal ideology.

In the real world, people prefer their last whisky when tasting options in a long sequence
Adele Quigley-McBride et al.
PLoS ONE, August 2018


When people in laboratory studies sample products in a sequence, they tend to prefer options presented first and last. To what extent do these primacy and recency effects carry over to real-world settings where numerous sources of information determine preferences? To investigate this question, we coded archival data from 136 actual whisky tastings each featuring seven whiskies. We analyzed people’s ratings of whiskies featured at different serial positions in the tastings. We found a recency effect: people gave their highest rating to whiskies in the last position, and voted the last whisky as their favorite more frequently. This recency effect persisted when we controlled for the counter explanation that whiskies with higher alcohol content tended to occupy later serial positions. The recency effect also persisted when we controlled for the age of the whiskies. Taken together, our findings suggest that the order of presentation matters in real-world settings, closely resembling what happens in laboratory settings with longer sequences of options.

Priming Resistance to Persuasion decreases adherence to Conspiracy Theories
Eric Bonetto et al.
Social Influence, Summer 2018, Pages 125-136


Research in the field of Resistance to Persuasion (RP) has demonstrated that inoculating individuals with counter arguments is effective for lowering their levels of adherence to conspiracist beliefs (CB). Yet, this strategy is limited because it requires specific arguments tailored against targeted conspiracist narratives. Therefore, we investigated whether priming Resistance to Persuasion would reduce individual adherence to CB among undergraduate student samples. A first study (N = 81) demonstrated that participants primed by filling a RP scale had lower CB scores than control participants. This effect was directly replicated twice (N = 205 and N = 265) and confirmed by a mini meta-analysis (N = 519; d = .20). Practical and theoretical implications are then discussed.

Evaluating the replicability of social science experiments in Nature and Science between 2010 and 2015
Colin Camerer et al.
Nature Human Behaviour, forthcoming


Being able to replicate scientific findings is crucial for scientific progress. We replicate 21 systematically selected experimental studies in the social sciences published in Nature and Science between 2010 and 2015. The replications follow analysis plans reviewed by the original authors and pre-registered prior to the replications. The replications are high powered, with sample sizes on average about five times higher than in the original studies. We find a significant effect in the same direction as the original study for 13 (62%) studies, and the effect size of the replications is on average about 50% of the original effect size. Replicability varies between 12 (57%) and 14 (67%) studies for complementary replicability indicators. Consistent with these results, the estimated true-positive rate is 67% in a Bayesian analysis. The relative effect size of true positives is estimated to be 71%, suggesting that both false positives and inflated effect sizes of true positives contribute to imperfect reproducibility. Furthermore, we find that peer beliefs of replicability are strongly related to replicability, suggesting that the research community could predict which results would replicate and that failures to replicate were not the result of chance alone.

The art of influence: When and why deviant artists gain impact
Eftychia Stamkou, Gerben van Kleef & Astrid Homan
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, August 2018, Pages 276-303


Some artists rise to fame, while others sink into oblivion. What determines whether artists make an impact? Considering deviance in its sociohistorical context, we propose that artists whose work deviates from their own previous style (intrapersonal deviance) and other artists’ styles (interpersonal deviance) gain greater impact than nondeviant artists, as long as deviance is directed toward a progressive style. A preliminary study showed that in western cultures nonrealistic styles are considered more progressive than realistic styles (Study 1). Five more studies provide evidence for the effects of the two types of artistic deviance on several aspects of impact (i.e., perceived influence of the artist, valuation of the artwork, and visual attention to the artwork). First, individuals considered artists who deviated from their previous style more impactful than artists who consistently followed a single style (Study 2), effects that were stronger when artists transitioned from a retrogressive style to a progressive one (Study 3). Second, artists who deviated from their contemporaries’ style were considered more impactful than artists who followed the predominant style, effects that were stronger when artists strayed from a predominant retrogressive style by using progressive means of expression (Studies 4 and 5). When the historical context prevented observers from inferring the progressiveness of the deviant artists’ expressive means, artistic deviance enhanced perceived impact regardless of the means by which the artists deviated (Study 6). Supporting our theoretical model, the effects of intrapersonal and interpersonal deviance on impact were mediated by perceived will-power (Studies 3, 5, and 6).

Essentialist beliefs in aesthetic judgments of duplicate artworks
Nathaniel Rabb, Hiram Brownell & Ellen Winner
Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, August 2018, Pages 284-293


Aesthetic philosophers assume that a forged identical copy of an artwork is aesthetically worse than the original, and experimental evidence suggests that nonphilosophers share the intuition. This presents an apparent puzzle because visually identical artworks might be thought to be equally good works of art regardless of their histories. We examine this puzzle by presenting participants with side-by-side identical images of artworks, labeled “first” and “second” to convey original/duplicate status in morally neutral language, while indicating that the creator of the second was either the same artist, the artist’s assistant, or a forger. Forgeries were devalued relative to artists’ duplicates on all dimensions. Assistants’ duplicates were devalued on historical (e.g., originality) but not broadly evaluative (e.g., beauty) dimensions, even when both duplicates were the second of a series of 10 and thus were equally duplicative. The results are not explained by moral or monetary evaluations and were observed for painting as well as photography, a medium in which duplication is standard practice. The pattern of judgments is consistent with beliefs in individual artifact essences.

The Endowment Effect As Blessing
Sivan Frenkel, Yuval Heller & Roee Teper
International Economic Review, August 2018, Pages 1159-1186


We study the idea that seemingly unrelated behavioral biases can coevolve if they jointly compensate for the errors that any one of them would give rise to in isolation. We suggest that the “endowment effect” and the “winner's curse” could have jointly survived natural selection together. We develop a new family of “hybrid‐replicator” dynamics. Under such dynamics, biases survive in the population for a long period of time even if they only partially compensate for each other and despite the fact that the rational type's payoff is strictly larger than the payoffs of all other types.

Extremeness Aversion Is a Cause of Anchoring
Joshua Lewis, Celia Gaertig & Joseph Simmons
Psychological Science, forthcoming


When estimating unknown quantities, people insufficiently adjust from values they have previously considered, a phenomenon known as anchoring. We suggest that anchoring is at least partially caused by a desire to avoid making extreme adjustments. In seven studies (N = 5,279), we found that transparently irrelevant cues of extremeness influenced people’s adjustments from anchors. In Studies 1-6, participants were less likely to adjust beyond a particular amount when that amount was closer to the maximum allowable adjustment. For example, in Study 5, participants were less likely to adjust by at least 6 units when they were allowed to adjust by a maximum of 6 units than by a maximum of 15 units. In Study 7, participants adjusted less after considering whether an outcome would be within a smaller distance of the anchor. These results suggest that anchoring effects may reflect a desire to avoid adjustments that feel too extreme.

Auction fever: The unrecognized effects of incidental arousal
Marc Adam, Gillian Ku & Ewa Lux
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming


Despite countless anecdotes about emotionally-charged bidding in auctions, there is little research to help understand what causes auction fever and why it persists. Because research has only considered how integral arousal (i.e., arousal from within the auction) affects bidding, the current research considered whether incidental arousal (i.e., arousal from outside the auction) also increases bidding. With two different manipulations of arousal, Experiments 1 and 2 showed that incidental arousal increased bidding in live auctions with monetary stakes. Experiment 1 also measured arousal physiologically to demonstrate its role in bidding. Experiment 3 utilized a third manipulation of incidental arousal and found that individuals were unaware of its effects. Overall, the current research demonstrates how bidders are potentially subject to many different sources of arousal that have nothing to do with auctions, all of which can unwittingly increase individuals' bidding.

Intrinsic whole number bias in humans
Santiago Alonso-Díaz et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, September 2018, Pages 1472-1481


Humans have great difficulty comparing quotients including fractions, proportions, and probabilities and often erroneously isolate the whole numbers of the numerators and denominators to compare them. Some have argued that the whole number bias is a compensatory strategy to deal with difficult comparisons. We examined adult humans’ preferences for gambles that differed only in numerosity, and not in factors that influence their expected value (probabilities and stakes). Subjects consistently preferred gambles with more winning balls to ones with fewer, even though the probabilities were mathematically identical, replicating prior results. In a second experiment, we found that subjects accurately represented the relative probabilities of the choice options during rapid nonverbal probability judgments but nonetheless showed biases based on whole numbers. We mathematically formalized and quantitatively evaluated cognitive rules based on existing hypotheses that attempt to explain subjects’ whole number biases during quotient comparisons. The results show that the whole number bias is intrinsic to the way humans solve quotient comparisons rather than a compensatory strategy.

Noradrenergic and Cholinergic Modulation of Belief Updating
Marieke Jepma et al.
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, forthcoming


To make optimal predictions in a dynamic environment, the impact of new observations on existing beliefs — that is, the learning rate — should be guided by ongoing estimates of change and uncertainty. Theoretical work has proposed specific computational roles for various neuromodulatory systems in the control of learning rate, but empirical evidence is still sparse. The aim of the current research was to examine the role of the noradrenergic and cholinergic systems in learning rate regulation. First, we replicated our recent findings that the centroparietal P3 component of the EEG—an index of phasic catecholamine release in the cortex—predicts trial-to-trial variability in learning rate and mediates the effects of surprise and belief uncertainty on learning rate (Study 1, N = 17). Second, we found that pharmacological suppression of either norepinephrine or acetylcholine activity produced baseline-dependent effects on learning rate following nonobvious changes in an outcome-generating process (Study 1). Third, we identified two genes, coding for α2A receptor sensitivity (ADRA2A) and norepinephrine reuptake (NET), as promising targets for future research on the genetic basis of individual differences in learning rate (Study 2, N = 137). Our findings suggest a role for the noradrenergic and cholinergic systems in belief updating and underline the importance of studying interactions between different neuromodulatory systems.

Testing the ability of the surprisingly popular method to predict NFL games
Michael Lee, Irina Danileiko & Julie Vi
Judgment and Decision Making, July 2018, Pages 322–333


We consider the recently-developed “surprisingly popular” method for aggregating decisions across a group of people (Prelec, Seung and McCoy, 2017). The method has shown impressive performance in a range of decision-making situations, but typically for situations in which the correct answer is already established. We consider the ability of the surprisingly popular method to make predictions in a situation where the correct answer does not exist at the time people are asked to make decisions. Specifically, we tested its ability to predict the winners of the 256 US National Football League (NFL) games in the 2017–2018 season. Each of these predictions used participants who self-rated as “extremely knowledgeable” about the NFL, drawn from a set of 100 participants recruited through Amazon Mechanical Turk (AMT). We compare the accuracy and calibration of the surprisingly popular method to a variety of alternatives: the mode and confidence-weighted predictions of the expert AMT participants, the individual and aggregated predictions of media experts, and a statistical Elo method based on the performance histories of the NFL teams. Our results are exploratory, and need replication, but we find that the surprisingly popular method outperforms all of these alternatives, and has reasonable calibration properties relating the confidence of its predictions to the accuracy of those predictions.


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