Joy and rigor in behavioral science

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In the past decade, behavioral science has seen the introduction of beneficial reforms to reduce false positive results. Serving as the motivational backdrop for the present research, we wondered whether these reforms might have unintended negative consequences for researchers’ behavior and emotional experiences. In an experiment simulating the research process, Study 1 (N = 449 researchers) suggested that engaging in a pre-registration task impeded the discovery of an interesting but non-hypothesized result. Study 2 (N = 400 researchers) indicated that relative to confirmatory research, researchers found exploratory research more enjoyable, motivating, and interesting; and less anxiety-inducing, frustrating, boring, and scientific. These studies raise the possibility that emphasizing confirmation can shift researchers away from exploration, and that such a shift could degrade the subjective experience of conducting research. Study 3 (N = 314 researchers) introduced a scale to measure “prediction preoccupation”—the feeling of heightened concern over, and fixation with, confirming predictions.

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Type of resources: Reading

Education level(s): College / Upper Division (Undergraduates), Graduate / Professional

Primary user(s): Student

Subject area(s): Social Science

Language(s): English