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Patrick S. Forscher @psforscher
, 12 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
#ML2 ( has got me thinking about the following thesis: Over the past ~20 odd years (or longer), social psychologists have grossly underestimated how hard it is for people to change
Let me state up front that this thesis is not new. I'm also not sure that social psychologists actually *believe* that people are easy to change. Nevertheless, the assumption of changeability underlies a lot of social psychology research from the past ~20-30 years
The assumption of changeability is most extreme in the various flavors of social priming studies. Being outside a box enhances creativity (…), exposure to money increases conservatism ( and on and on and on
However we also see the assumption of changeability in many of the more popular paradigms from 90s and 00s social psychology, ranging from stereotype threat (…) to all the various flavors of implicit bias manipulations (…)
I see at least two reasons for this emphasis. First, social psychologists emphasize situational influences on behavior. Situations are easier to manipulate experimentally than, say, naturally occurring differences between people
However, some types of very important situations are very hard to change, like the situations brought on by extreme poverty
And yet social psychologists don't typically study these because of the second and third reasons: social psychologists prize clean causal inference above all else, and yet don't have the interest and/or resources to implement intensive manipulations
This vicious combination of an emphasis on situational influences, a desire for clean inference, and a refusal to conduct intensive experiments incentivizes papers stuffed with large numbers of small-ish one-shot experiments using pallid manipulations of dubious validity
Ask any clinician: People do change, but usually only after a lot of time, effort, and resources, and sometimes not even then
If we truly want to understand the situational forces, I think social psychologists need to be willing to leverage naturally occurring experiments, invest more in longitudinal measurement, and take more seriously the construct validity of our manipulations
Coda: Anyone interested in the history of the "situationist" assumption in social psychology should listen to this episode of @blackgoatpod (…) It makes similar points to those in this thread, but more eloquently
I meant to mention "self-affirmation" rather than "implicit bias" manipulations here, but if you want an illustrative link to an implicit bias manipulation here's one:…
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