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Originating within the behavioral sciences, "nudging" has received attention as a way to achieve broad societal change by promoting small, individual adjustments. We're told, for instance, that if we all do our part reduce our carbon footprints we can stave off climate change. In today's episode, Yoel and Alexa consider a critique of "nudging" offered by Chater and Loewenstein. These authors argue that individual-level interventions often fail to accumulate to impressive societal change, and meanwhile distract from much needed system-level solutions. Also, Yoel claims to be less relatable than Alexa.
Yoel and Alexa discuss a recent study that examines the facial features that people perceive as "smart," "dorky," "trustworthy," or a number of other traits. The study quickly captured a lot of attention, eliciting both fascination and anger. The cohosts turn to Twitter, and to Alexa's undergraduate students, to attempt to gain a deeper understanding of the criticisms and suspicions expressed about the work. In the process, they consider whether glasses make you look smart, and whether babies can be trusted.
Originally, Yoel and Alexa set out to discuss a study examining stress and decision-making during the pandemic. However, they get sidetracked by the ways that data are packaged - first by APA, and then by NPR - into a newsworthy account that may not tell the whole story. They identify ways in which the summary statements and headlines may exaggerate or twist the data into a more interesting narrative. Despite their skepticism, they consider NPR's advice about how to improve day-to-day decision-making. In a particularly humble moment, Yoel concedes that he should have known better than to buy a car without air conditioning.
Alexa and Yoel fight some more, this time over whether or not science should be value free. They consider a position taken by W. E. B. Du Bois, who argued that social change was only possible if scientists focused solely on finding truth. In the process, they consider whether scientists should ever keep findings to themselves, and discuss the merits of leaving the value judgments to the politicians. In the end, they somehow conclude that it is fine that they never justify their alphas. Next time, Alexa promises to find out what's happening on UA frat house lawns.
Yoel and Alexa discuss the "grand challenges" of psychological science, as identified in a recent survey of APS members. While usually nauseatingly agreeable, the two find many points of contention when it comes to psychology's shortcomings - from the kinds of diversity worth wanting to the value of decolonizing your syllabus. In the end, they make amends by agreeing that psychological science is, unfortunately, unlikely to solve climate change. And, along the way they express their appreciation for winter sports, tax advice, and alcoholic seltzers without artificial sweeteners.
Yoel and Alexa embrace their credulous sides and consider concepts from psychology that have importance for people in their private and public lives. Each of us lists the three social psychological ideas that we think are most relevant to people's lives - the kinds of things we would teach if we could give just one lecture. There are areas of consensus, but at some point Alexa wonders what Yoel has against insurance. We also discuss our inability to meaningfully discuss international politics.
Alexa moonlights as a guest and answers Yoel's questions about her recent paper, in which she argues that the criminal justice system should abandon retribution. Alexa claims that when we ask if someone is blameworthy, we are asking social scientific questions: Were they rational? Were they being coerced? Were they acting out of character? We discuss some aspects of the social scientific evidence - from vignettes about soaping windows to group-to-individual inference - and consider whether it can provide satisfying answers. And, Yoel challenges Alexa to consider whether her utopian vision might have unintended consequences. Plus, we talk about Canadian truckers, and Alexa keeps her valentine's day collage shrouded in mystery.
Personality psychologist and methodologist Julia Rohrer joins the show to talk about causal claims, strategic ambiguity, and how tough it is to tell what empirical claims many psychology papers are making. To illustrate, we subject Yoel's first paper, "Conservatives are more easily disgusted than liberals," to some vigorous post-publication peer review. We also discuss what makes Julia most hopeful about psychology, as well as the recent progress in alcohol-free beer. Special Guest: Julia Rohrer.
Alexa and Yoel talk authenticity. What is it? Is it good to have it? And why does Alexa score higher on it than Yoel? We talk about a draft paper examining how people infer authenticity in themselves and others, and a recently-published paper suggesting that supposedly highly authentic people might just be motivated to present themselves that way. Plus, Alexa drinks some listener-supplied beer, with favorable results, and we discuss who the most famous academic is.
Episode 78: Meehl on Theory

Episode 78: Meehl on Theory

2022-01-1201:08:581

Alexa and Yoel are back with more amateur philosophy of science. This time, we do a deep dive into a paper by the legendary Paul Meehl: "Appraising and Amending Theories: The Strategy of Lakatosian Defense and Two Principles that Warrant It." What can this classic paper tell us about how to do better research? We also talk about lactose, tandem bicycles, and New Year's resolutions (not in that order).
Episode 77: Against Method?

Episode 77: Against Method?

2021-12-0801:14:381

Alexa and Yoel tackle Paul Feyerabend, the wild man of philosophy of science. What can we learn from his "anything goes" argument for methodological anarchy? We go deep on the first five chapters of Feyerabend's most famous work, "Against Method," and discuss his (maybe not entirely serious) arguments for extreme theory proliferation, ignoring the data, and Chinese herbal medicine. Also, we discuss which Christmas album is superior: Sia or Dolly Parton.
Alexa and Yoel talk about objections to preregistration. Does preregistration imply that researchers can't be trusted? Does it mean that they can't use their best judgment? When might preregistration be unhelpful? We also discuss researcher degrees of freedom in a recent paper testing Cardi B's maxim that "hoes don't get cold." Plus: ketchup on ice cream, and Alexa's controversial replacement for Daylight Savings Time.
Alexa and Yoel talk about a paper purporting to show that winning the Nobel Prize increases your lifespan. In the process, they dip their toes into non-experimental causal inference and discuss whether there is a taboo in psychology about drawing causal conclusions from non-experimental data. Plus, Yoel does his best to explain what an instrumental variable is and Alexa drinks a very large beer.
Paul Bloom joins us to talk about why we want to suffer. Sometimes it's a means to an end, but sometimes we desire it for its own sake. Among other things, we talk about mountain-climbing, whether you'd want to run just the end of the marathon, experience machines, BDSM, and parenting. Plus, a very special extra guest host, kidney donation, pronouns, and trigger warnings. Special Guest: Paul Bloom.
Yoel and Alexa are joined by Joe Simmons to talk about fraud. We go in-depth on a recent high-profile fraud case, but we also talk about scientific fraud more generally: how common is it, how do you detect it, and what can we do to prevent it? Special Guest: Joe Simmons.
Danielle McDuffie is a graduate student in psychology at the University of Alabama. This is the story of how she ran a graduate student climate survey, the explosive results, and the very contentious year that ensued. Special Guest: Danielle McDuffie.
Episode 71: The Good Life

Episode 71: The Good Life

2021-09-0101:06:27

Alexa and Yoel discuss a new paper (Oishi & Westgate, 2021) arguing that psychological richness is an overlooked aspect of the good life. In the process, they compare psychologically-rich-life scores, plan hypothetical vacations, and compare major regrets. Also, Alexa reviews an (accidentally-purchased) alcohol-free beer.
Episode 70: Older

Episode 70: Older

2021-08-1101:04:41

Alexa and Yoel tackle the most dreaded subject: getting older. Have they become better researchers and people over the years? Are they happier and more connected? Or are they just more forgetful and less good at stats? Plus: some listener feedback about self-care raises conceptual questions about suffering.
Episode 69: How to Self-Care

Episode 69: How to Self-Care

2021-07-2101:11:591

Alexa and Yoel go deep on self-care. What is it, how do you do it, and why does the term raise Yoel's hackles? How hard do we actually work, and should we be trying to work less? Also, Alexa shares an amazingly successful culinary experiment.
Alexa and Yoel discuss "The Anticreativity Letters," a satirical article by Richard Nisbett that advises young psychology researchers to (among other things) avoid being overly critical. How does the article's advice hold up today? How does one combine appropriate skepticism with enthusiasm for research? Or are the two in conflict at all? Plus: Alexa gets salty about salty drinks, and Yoel returns to the gym.
Comments (8)

Andy Kelly

Weird episode. Thought was gonna be a deepdive on the IDW, but turned into an hour of IDW apologetics. Good podcast, weak episode

Oct 4th
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Margaret Dostalik

interesting!

Mar 26th
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Worth Swearingen

She was excellent. Smart and serious, but entertaining, too. I especially enjoyed the discussion of her work on the effects of businesses marketing themselves as supporting a moral position.

Jul 1st
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JENNIFER WANG

Interesting convo but Liz’s argument seems illogical and doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Jun 25th
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Tom Murin

So let me get this straight. It's not that social psychologists are liberal - it's why is the public so conservative.?

Jul 25th
Reply (1)

Jason D'Cruz

great episode. slingerland is fascinating to talk with?

Mar 13th
Reply

Kingo Sleemer

a consistently interesting podcast

Feb 3rd
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