#Psynom17: The Next Generation

The annual meeting of the Psychonomic Society in Vancouver drew to a close on Sunday. Following tradition (anything that lasts more than 2 years is surely a tradition?), I again surveyed a few posters by junior researchers during one of the poster sessions.

The choice of posters was arbitrary, rather than random, as I didn’t toss any coins or rolled any dice to determine whom to approach.

I interviewed the authors of the chosen posters by email to get a better sense of what the next generation of Psychonomes is up to and what they hope to achieve. Specifically, I asked the authors four questions:

  1. What’s the punchline of your poster? What have we learned from it?
  2. What did you enjoy the most about #Psynom17?
  3. What would you change for future meetings (e.g. #Psynom18)?
  4. Looking at the world right now, what do you think is the most important societal problem that Psychonomic research can help address?

Here are the posters and the responses from the first few authors who got back to me—I have more requests out and if they come in soon I may post an update. And please accept my apologies if you weren’t approached during the meeting: as I said, this sample was entirely arbitrary, and if you presented a poster and want to have it taken up on this blog, get in touch once you publish it in a Psychonomics journal.

Examination of Age-Related Phonological Networks

NICHOL CASTRO and MICHAEL S. VITEVITCH, University of Kansas

Nichol replied as follows:

  1. What’s the punchline of your poster? What have we learned from it?

The phonological structure of words in memory does not change across adulthood, even though other researchers have found that the semantic structure of words does change across adulthood. If the underlying structure of words changes in one domain, but not in another, this can have consequences to successful word retrieval and production processes with increasing age.

  1. What did you enjoy the most about #Psynom17?

I always enjoy meeting new people and networking with future collaborators, as well as catching up with old friends and colleagues.

  1. What would you change for future meetings (e.g. #Psynom18)?

The inclusion of hands-on workshops for emerging methods or statistics. For example, there was a special symposium on big data, and it would have been great to have a hands-on workshop on working with big data (e.g., processing, storing, pipelines for analysis, commonly used programs/software, etc.)

  1. Looking at the world right now, what do you think is the most important societal problem that Psychonomic research can help address?

Although there are several societal problems that Psychonomic research can address, my particular interest is applying theoretical and basic science research to help our ever-increasing aging population. As the proportion of older adults increases, the rates of age-related diseases (like dementia and stroke), also increases. Therefore, it is important that we apply our understanding of normal cognitive aging, as well as our understanding of impairments from disease or stroke, to the development and use of diagnostic tools and interventions with these clinical populations.

Processing Goal-Irrelevant Information During the Stroop Task in Younger and Older Adults 

JESSICA NICOSIA and DAVID BALOTA, Washington University in St. Louis

Jessica replied as follows:

  1. What’s the punchline of your poster? What have we learned from it?

Younger and older adults process goal-irrelevant information to different levels depending on their vocabulary and exposure to the item itself.

  1. What did you enjoy the most about #Psynom17?

I enjoyed meeting with other researchers and discussing psychology with people who are just as passionate about it as I am.

  1. What would you change for future meetings (e.g. #Psynom18)?

In future meetings, I’m going to try to reach out to more of the researchers to set up one-on-one meetings.

  1. Looking at the world right now, what do you think is the most important societal problem that Psychonomic research can help address?

I think that right now, Psychonomic research can help us move the field of psychology toward a more interdisciplinary and integrative format.

Applications of a Bayesian Hierarchical Signal Detection Model to Emotion Research

ANDREA M. CATALDO and ANDREW L. COHEN, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Andrea replied as follows:

  1. What’s the punchline of your poster? What have we learned from it?

The typical approach to measuring and analyzing self-reported emotion has two issues. First, within-subject power is limited due to the inherently limited number of stimuli when asking participants to report their emotions in a survey format with emotional words as items. Second, comparing mean ratings is an insensitive measure of the question, ‘how do participants discriminate between the emotions that they might be feeling?’. To remedy these issues, we suggest increasing within-subjects power by eliciting responses to emotional faces rather than emotional words, and assessing their emotional discriminability using a Bayesian hierarchical signal-detection model, which we plan to release as an R package.

   2. What did you enjoy the most about #Psynom17?

It was great to meet so many new faces! The app was also very handy.

   3. What would you change for future meetings (e.g. #Psynom18)?

Wifi at the conference would have made a big difference, I’m sure particularly for international travelers.

   4. Looking at the world right now, what do you think is the most important societal problem that Psychonomic research can help address?

I think that scientific literacy is a concern. Psychonomic research that focuses on improving our methodological and statistical approaches can improve scientific literacy by clarifying both the questions we are asking and our confidence in the answers. This makes our conclusions easier to communicate to the general audience.

Cognitive Interventions Reduce the Likelihood of Falling.

KYLE KRAEMER and SHEILA BLACK, University of Alabama

Kyle replied as follows:

  1. What’s the punchline of your poster? What have we learned from it?

The practical application of cognitive training within older adults may be greater than previously realized. Specifically, we found that older adults who were randomly assigned to receive training in either memory or speed of processing had lower rates of falls 10 years later, but those receiving reasoning training (or no training at all) did not.  Because falls in older adults are debilitating, costly, and can accelerate mortality, reductions in the incidence of falls could benefit a lot of people.

  1. What did you enjoy the most about #Psynom17?

I enjoyed seeing the variety of ways that people think about similar problems in cognition. In particular, I thought the keynote by Randy Engle relating working memory, fluid intelligence, and simple discrimination tasks all through the common feature of attentional control was fascinating.  It really encouraged me to seek for deeper, common questions about cognition.

  1. What would you change for future meetings (e.g. #Psynom18)?

I would be happy if the quality simply stays as great as it is!  While I think the conference is fantastic on a general level, I particularly enjoy symposia that try to bridge together findings from different areas of cognitive psychology to create larger general theories. I think we have a natural tendency as researchers to want answers to the details of our specific area, but I would always support more focus on research ideas that address basic questions of cognition that apply across the spectrum of our individual specialties.

  1. Looking at the world right now, what do you think is the most important societal problem that Psychonomic research can help address?

I think that a greater understanding of learning and memory is a vital part of improving education (both formal and informal) around the world. I think quality of education is the most important societal problem, because the degree to which we are properly utilizing our human potential will inevitably affect our ability to address all of the other problems we face in our society.

Cognitive Perception of Task Context: The Impact of Roles on the Psychological Definition of Fairness

ELITZA AMBRUS, Huddersfield Business School, RENATA HEILMAN, Babeș-Bolyai University, PETKO KUSEV, Huddersfield Business School

Here are Eli’s replies:

  1.    What’s the punchline of your poster? What have we learned from it?

Your job description might impact your social judgements and choices. Descriptions of roles trigger an implicit psychological mechanism influencing judgements of fairness and overall prosocial behaviour.

  1.   What did you enjoy the most about #Psynom17?

I enjoyed the vibrant atmosphere of the event and the way the talks I attended were delivered – in an engaging and stimulating manner, encouraging and appreciating questions and feedback from the audience.

  1.  What would you change for future meetings (e.g. #Psynom18)?

I would leave more time for discussion after each talk – it seemed like a wonderful opportunity to exchange ideas and draw on the variety of research backgrounds/experience.

  1.    Looking at the world right now, what do you think is the most important societal problem that Psychonomic research can help address?

I am clearly biased in answering this question, but for me social inequality is the most important social problem that Psychonomic research can help address. The income gap has been widening for the last decades, but recently the immigration waves and the rise of nationalistic moods around the world have made the issue of social inequality even more acute. We need to understand what influences individuals’ judgements of fairness and acceptable level of social inequality so to promote social growth and mobility.

Questions on Eyewitness Accuracy After Exposure to Misleading Post-Event Information.

QUIN M. CHROBAK, KYRA BOWE, BLAIR BRAUN, KYRA PIETTE and JOSIE RIBLEY, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

Blair replied as follows:

  1. What’s the punchline of your poster? What have we learned from it?

Essentially, we were interested in how misinformation might interact with the wording at final test to influence the accuracy of participant-witnesses.  We used a standard misinformation paradigm where participants viewed an eyewitness event, were exposed to misinformation, and then tested on their memory for the original event.  At the time of test, participants were asked multifaceted questions that contained both a true proposition and a false proposition (i.e., the misinformation).  This is the type of question that a lawyer might use with a witness on the witness stand in order to confuse them and thus reduce their credibility. Results showed that misled participants struggled a lot with these questions, and no manner of manipulation seemed to make the effect go away.  So, for example, giving participants additional time to answer the question (15 seconds vs. 3 seconds), providing explicit instructions to only answer “yes” if all parts of the question were true, and eliminating any social pressures by administering the study via Qualtrics – none of these things eliminated the effect. At the end of the day, I think we need to do more research to figure out why these types of questions are so detrimental – particularly after people have been exposed to post-event false information.

  1. What did you enjoy the most about #Psynom17?

To be honest, I really enjoyed the enthusiasm and excitement that you see in peoples’ faces when they talk about their research. After attending Psychonomics for the second time, it’s pretty clear that everyone at the conference genuinely cares about the work that they do.  It’s kind of infectious, and makes me excited to continue on in this area.

  1. What would you change for future meetings (e.g. #Psynom18)?

This conference well organized and an amazing opportunity to be a part of; however, I wish there was a greater emphasis put on undergraduate research.  It was extremely intimidating to be at a conference with so many accomplished scholars.  I think it would have been helpful if there were more events that I could attend for students that were at the start of the journey.

  1. Looking at the world right now, what do you think is the most important societal problem that Psychonomic research can help address?

I can only think about one of the lessons that I learned in General Psychology.  And that is, psychology is a science.  A science that studies the most complicated thing on the planet: human behavior.  I think that the more the average person understands the science behind psychological research, the more willing they will be to embrace its findings.

And now we start counting down to #Psynom18 in New Orleans—with a stop in Amsterdam along the way for the Third International Meeting of the Psychonomic Society.

 

 

 

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