Archive for the ‘Psychology’ Category


Randomization and its constraints: A critical look at the current reserach practices in social psychology

August 29, 2014

Taku Iwatsuki

Abstract: In this talk, I investigate the importance of randomization in the context of social psychological research. I compare the costs and the benefits of randomization, and argue that the current research practices in social psychology seem to put too much emphasis on the use of randomization. The talk will be structured as follows: First, I briefly explain what randomization is and what role it typically plays in social psychological research. Next, I explore its methodological benefits in the context of causal inference through critical examination of arguments for randomization. Then, I investigate what the costs of randomization are, focusing on the constraints it imposes on other aspects of research design and eventually on psychological theorizing based on such research. Finally, comparing these costs and benefits, I conclude that the use of more diverse research designs with less emphasis on the use of randomization seems to be necessary for developing better psychological theories.



The Cognitive Neuroscience Revolution

February 24, 2014

Trey Boone

Abstract: Once upon a time, there was cognitive science—the interdisciplinary study of cognition. It included (aspects of) six disciplines: psychology, computer science, linguistics, anthropology, neuroscience, and philosophy. The six disciplines were supposed to work together towards understanding cognition, but there was also a clear division of labor between them. On one side stood psychology, with the help of computer science, linguistics, anthropology, and philosophy; on the other side stood neuroscience. Psychology etc. studied the functional, cognitive, or—in Marr’s terminology—the computational and algorithmic levels; neuroscience investigated the neural, mechanistic, or implementation level. These two approaches were considered to be autonomous from one another. This division of labor leaves no room for cognitive neuroscience. Indeed, from this perspective, the very term “cognitive neuroscience” is almost an oxymoron, because neuroscience is supposed to deal with the mechanisms that implement cognitive processes, not with cognition proper. Yet cognitive neuroscience has emerged as the new mainstream in cognitive science. What gives?

We argue that cognitive science as traditionally conceived is on its way out and is being replaced by cognitive neuroscience, broadly construed. Cognitive neuroscience is still an interdisciplinary investigation of cognition. It still includes (aspects of) the same six disciplines (psychology, computer science, linguistics, anthropology, neuroscience, and philosophy). But the old division of labor is gone.

The old two-level view (functional/cognitive/computational vs. neural/mechanistic/implementation) is being replaced by a view on which there are many levels of mechanistic organization. No one level has a monopoly on cognition proper. Instead, different levels are more or less cognitive depending on their specific properties. Old psychological theories pitched at the “functional level” are simply sketches of mechanistic explanations at one of many levels of mechanistic organization (Piccinini and Craver 2011). The disciplines contributing to cognitive science are not autonomous from one another. Instead, these different disciplines contribute to the common enterprise of constructing multilevel mechanistic explanations of cognitive phenomena.