These two new papers in JPSP are extremely interesting:
Finkel, Eastwick, and Reis: "Best research practices in psychology: Illustrating epistemological and pragmatic considerations with the case of relationship science."
In recent years, a robust movement has emerged within psychology to increase the evidentiary value of our science. This movement, which has analogs throughout the empirical sciences, is broad and diverse, but its primary emphasis has been on the reduction of statistical false positives. The present article addresses epistemological and pragmatic issues that we, as a field, must consider as we seek to maximize the scientific value of this movement. Regarding epistemology, this article contrasts the false-positives-reduction (FPR) approach with an alternative, the error balance (EB) approach, which argues that any serious consideration of optimal scientific practice must contend simultaneously with both false-positive and false-negative errors. Regarding pragmatics, the movement has devoted a great deal of attention to issues that frequently arise in laboratory experiments and one-shot survey studies, but it has devoted less attention to issues that frequently arise in intensive and/or longitudinal studies. We illustrate these epistemological and pragmatic considerations with the case of relationship science, one of the many research domains that frequently employ intensive and/or longitudinal methods. Specifically, we examine 6 research prescriptions that can help to reduce false-positive rates: preregistration, prepublication sharing of materials, postpublication sharing of data, close replication, avoiding piecemeal publication, and increasing sample size. For each, we offer concrete guidance not only regarding how researchers can improve their research practices and balance the risk of false-positive and false-negative errors, but also how the movement can capitalize upon insights from research practices within relationship science to make the movement stronger and more inclusive.
Waytz, Hirshfield, and Tamir: "Mental simulation and the meaning of life."
Mental simulation, the process of self-projection into alternate temporal, spatial, social, or hypothetical realities is a distinctively human capacity. Numerous lines of research also suggest that the tendency for mental simulation is associated with enhanced meaning. The present research tests this association specifically examining the relationship between two forms of simulation (temporal and spatial) and meaning in life. Study 1 uses neuroimaging to demonstrate that enhanced connectivity in the medial temporal lobe network, a subnetwork of the brain’s default network implicated in prospection and retrospection, correlates with self-reported meaning in life. Study 2 demonstrates that experimentally inducing people to think about the past or future versus the present enhances self-reported meaning in life, through the generation of more meaningful events. Study 3 demonstrates that experimentally inducing people to think specifically versus generally about the past or future enhances self-reported meaning in life. Study 4 turns to spatial simulation to demonstrate that experimentally inducing people to think specifically about an alternate spatial location (from the present location) increases meaning derived from this simulation compared to thinking generally about another location or specifically about one’s present location. Study 5 demonstrates that experimentally inducing people to think about an alternate spatial location versus one’s present location enhances meaning in life, through meaning derived from this simulation. Study 6 demonstrates that simply asking people to imagine completing a measure of meaning in life in an alternate location compared with asking them to do so in their present location enhances reports of meaning. This research sheds light on an important determinant of meaning in life and suggests that undirected mental simulation benefits psychological well-being.