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Minding the Meta-Analysis

Psychology, Science · · 2 comments

A little over a week ago, I had the opportunity to go to yet another meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP). It’s always a great time, with plenty of very interesting talks and posters! It’s also always a pleasure to travel from the harsh Canadian winter to someplace warm to talk about psychology. Walking around in a t-shirt in February is not a common experience for me.

Perhaps this is just my perception, but over the past few years there seems to be a growing trend toward people doing meta-analyses of the studies they present. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about: they present three studies, and maybe the last one has only a marginal effect, but then they say, “But when you meta-analyze over all three studies, the overall effect is highly significant.” This year I saw at least a couple people do this in their talk, and I’ve seen it before at previous conferences and in other contexts. So I want to talk just a little bit about these informal mini-meta-analyses—to distinguish them from more formal meta-analyses, I’m going to call them “meso-analyses”—and talk about some of the caveats of this technique.Continue Reading


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Psychology replication

All Effects are Real: Thoughts on Replication

I’ve been watching the recent debate about replication with interest, concern, and not just a little amusement. It seems everyone has their opinion on the matter (leave it to a field of scientists to have twice as many opinions as there are scientists in the field!), and at times the discussion has been quite heated. But as a grad student, it’s been difficult to know whether I should throw my own hat in the ring. With psychology heavyweights like Kahneman and Gilbert voicing their opinions, what room is there for a third-year grad student? But fortunately (or unfortunately), I’ve never been one to know when to keep my opinions to myself, so I want to present my own thoughts on the matter. My perspective is that, even if the issue gets heated at times, this discussion can be fruitful as we learn to navigate a changing discipline.Continue Reading

Canadian passport

The Story of the Lost Passport

Personal · · Leave a comment

Folks, when you’re travelling, make sure you know where your passport is at all times. Why do I say that? Because forgetting your passport at an inopportune time can lead to the biggest headache that you’ll ever face. I now know this from personal experience. Gather ’round, kids, and let me tell you the story of when I made a stupid mistake and then suffered for it for the rest of the day.

The story begins in Chicago. Yesterday. My friends and I had arrived at O’Hare airport on our way back from a social psychology convention in Austin. We had a layover in Chicago and were waiting for our second flight to the Kitchener airport. It was an evening flight, and I was looking forward to being home. The employees at the desk announced that our flight was ready to board, and I grabbed my things, ready to finally leave! And then they announced, “Because this is an international flight, please have your passport ready to show the attendant along with your boarding pass.” And that’s when my heart sank.Continue Reading

I work to live not live to work

The Basics of a Basic Income

Politics, Society · · 1 comment

About a month ago, Switzerland made international news by holding a referendum on whether or not to give all Swiss citizens a basic income of about $2800 a month. Although the date for the vote still hasn’t been set (as far as I can tell), it certainly raised quite a buzz as analysts tried to frame the pros and cons of a proposal that, quite frankly, is not a new idea at all. Here’s a good summary of some of the arguments and research on the issue.

At its heart, a “basic income” proposal is a system in which each resident of a particular country or region receives a sum of money unconditionally by the government. Unlike many systems of welfare, such money comes with no strings attached, and no means testing to ensure that one needs such assistance. This means that it cuts out much of the bureaucracy involved with welfare benefits: no more case workers ensuring that people are indeed looking for work; no more food stamps that force individuals to spend money on food rather than on other items that may be equally necessary. The system, at least in one sense, is inherently fair, in that everyone in the country receives the same amount: rich or poor, every person gets the basic income from the government.Continue Reading