Editors’ Picks: Summer Reading List

Your semester has ended and you are already bored by how much time the holidays freed up?
Do you want to dive deeper into issues around psychological science, but did not know where to start?

For the next weeks, we are going to be sharing our JEPS editors’ recommendations for your summer readings & listenings on different psychological topics. These will include all sorts of media, from newspaper articles or podcasts to journal articles we thought you should definitely read.


We will be continously updating this list over the summer and have decided to group our suggestions broadly by topic. These topics are (in order of publishing):

And if you have any suggestions yourself, just comment down below for all interested readers out there. We might even add it to the post!


Open Science

Have you heard about the replicability crisis and other issues psychology is currently facing? Are you interested in learning about Open Science, the movement that seeks to tackle these problems?

Media

Science journalist Dan Engber summarises the impact that Daryl Bems journal article had on psychological science, guiding you through the historical context of the paper and introducing Daryl Bem as a person – it is a capturing short read, especially for people not used to the technical details yet.

Movie

Restricted access to research content can be a very frustrating thing. Jason Schmitt’s documentary questions the rationale behind the widely present paywalls and discusses the issue with many prominent figures within the modern publishing world.

Podcasts

The flaws in the scientific publishing system do not apply only to the field of psychology – yeah, we are not in this mess alone. And we need to collaboratively work on practical solutions to get out of this, which is exactly the aim of this podcast. In this regards, the authors, Kambiz Chizari and Ilyass Tabiai, interview researchers and developers of Open Access platforms, such as Zenodo and Scipedia.

ReproducibiliTea is a wonderful, tea-themed journal club by three (former) Oxford scholars (one being former JEPS Editor Sophia Crüwell), discussing introductory papers all around open science as well as inviting special guests. Especially suited for early-career researchers, as discussion points come from their prespective (both the hosts as well as the guests).

Online Course

Future Learn is an online education platform offering a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions. For Open Science enthusiasts who wish to learn how to make one’s own research more transparent, reproducible, and responsible, we recommend following the page and enrolling in their ‘Transparent and Open Social Science Research’ course when they open it up again. However, we also encourage you to explore other course options of this amazing platform.


Philosophy of Psychology

The following recommendations will try to introduce you to more philosophical accounts related to psychology. As a subfield of philosophy of science, the philosophy of psychology examines why and how we study psychology. We collected a couple of resources which are interesting introductions, some around Open Science, some on the the logic of empirical psychological researchs, and others around the culture of research more broadly.

Books

  • Zoltan Dienes: Understanding Psychology as a Science

Zoltan Dienes’ famous book is the perfect recommendation for anyone who is interested in learning about the different paradigms that help understand why psychological science works the way it does today. You will get introduced to a little bit of philosophy to understand different historical ideas on how knowledge is created and managed, and to different statistical paradigms, all of it in an easy way, without any prior information necessary. This is an absolute must read for anyone who wants to understand the scientific side of psychology, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of different methods to conduct science.

  • Judea Pearl: The Book of Why – The New Science of Cause and Effect

Are you still confused about what the professors mean with ‘correlation is not causation’? The Book of Why will help you understand this difference, but more importantly, it will introduce you to the idea why we shouldn’t be afraid of thinking in terms of causation. You just have to learn how to go about it, and this book is a perfect start.

  • Chris Chambers: The Seven Deadly Sins of Psychology

“Psychological science has made extraordinary discoveries about the human mind, but can we trust everything its practitioners are telling us?” This book will give you a great summary of the issues of current practices in psychology. Not only does Chris Chambers unravel the serious problems, but he also offers detailed solutions on how to overcome the status quo.

Articles and media

Ben Blum’s Medium post revolves revisits the Stanford Prison Experiment and its participants, retelling the story we all know – and all the deceptions and fraud associated, laying open why it should not be as well-regarded as it is. A must read for every psychology student.

  • Flis, I. (2019). Psychologists psychologizing scientific psychology: An epistemological reading of the replication crisis. Theory & Psychology, 29(2), 158–181. doi.org/10.1177/0959354319835322

Our former Editor-in-Chief Ivan Flis, gone historian of psychology, explores implicit assumptions within the Open Science Movement – if you are interested in philosophy of science and open science, this is the perfect read. Also, it is very interesting to take a step outside and consider which implications your view on psychology as a science might have, and this paper is a beautiful introduction for OS enthusiasts.

Podcasts & Lectures

Paul Everett Meehl was one of the most influential psychologists of the late 20th century, especially when it comes to the philosophy behind our beloved science. His scientific thought about making the most accurate (and, thus, most ethical) decisions was way ahead of time. Tune it to his lectures (filmed 40 years ago), if you do not believe us!

The Black Goat is hosted by the three personality psychologists Sanjay Srivastava, Alexa Tullett, and Simine Vazire. In their podcast, they talk about doing science and everything that comes with it whilst sharing their views on topics brought to them by letters from listeners.

Everything Hertz is the podcast of everyone’s favourite Aussies (James Heathers & Dan Quintana), covering science culture, methodology, and Australia. Ever so often both invite a guest who adds to the discussion with their particular expertise – usually overshadowing Australia talk then.


Statistics

We know that statistics can be a very rough topic almost to everyone, but we have included some recommendations that will help you to overcome that feeling, even enjoying the content these different resources offer. Whether you want to read about the beginnings of statistics in psychology, about new paradigms or just want to complete a course to improve your skills, these recommendations will help you to have a very fun and statistical summer.

Books

  • Darrell Huff: How to Lie with Statistics

Although statistics are thought to be the objective way to report things, an appropriate amount of caution and doubt is necessary when using any of such methods. This ‘how to’ book introduces the main aspects of good and bad practices when it comes to numerical data. It is one of the standard texts for college statisticians and one of the best selling statistic books of all time.

  • David Salsburg: The Lady Tasting Tea – How Statistics Revolutionized Science in the Twentieth Century

This insightful book will give you an overview of the rich and varied fields of statistics and the interesting people who have contributed to it. And do not fear, there are no complicated graphs or equations in this book instead you will get witty anecdotes and enlightening philosophical thoughts.

Journal Articles

While psychologists often test for nothing but significance, Lakens, Scheel, and Isager take a stance that researchers should define smallest effect size of interest to conclude a solid effect. They describe how you can use a two one-sided tests procedure to see whether your findings are equivalent to a null-effect by turning the testing procedure on its head. If you are interested in broadening your understanding of typical statistical methods or you have to test some data yourself, this article helps you to understand your results a lot better than before.

  • Rouder, J. N., & Haaf, J. M. (2018). Power, Dominance, and Constraint: A Note on the Appeal of Different Design Traditions. Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science, 1(1), 1–8. doi.org/10.1177/2515245917745058

This paper contains a very interesting discussion on the concept of statistical power in experiments. As a rule of thumb, you can say the more data you have the better. Based on this premise, Rouder and Haaf wonder whether it is more valuable to gain additional data by including more participants to your experiment or to increase the amount of trials you include per participant. For this, they also give an overview of different psychological traditions (with psychophysicists having just a few participants with a lot of trials, while social psychology has rather few trials with a lot of participants). This paper is the one if you are looking to gain more insight in the concept of statistical power or if you are currently designing a study yourself and want to find an answer to your sample size and study design.

  • Morey, R. D., Hoekstra, R., Rouder, J. N., Lee, M. D., & Wagenmakers, E. J. (2016). The fallacy of placing confidence in confidence intervals. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 23(1), 103–123. doi.org/10.3758/s13423-015-0947-8

Morey, Hoekstra, Rouder, Lee, and Wagenmakers compare different methods to compute confidence intervals in this paper. They show how each methods reaches different outcomes, conclusions and, based on the theoretical background of each method, most importantly different conclusions. If you want to broaden your understanding on the basis of measures of dispersion and statistical fundamentals like the frequentist or Bayesian approach, this is the paper for you.

Podcasts & Online Courses

Although episodes of this podcast are rare and few, they are always worth the wait. The podcasts describes itself as “[…] a podcast about the people behind Bayesian statistics and other hot methodological issues in psychological research.” And that summarises it pretty well.

Coursera is an online platform founded in 2012 by two Stanford Computer Science professors – Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng – that wanted to offer high-level online education courses to people all around the world. This specific course by Daniël Lakens focuses on how to better statistical inferences such as p-value, effect sizes, confidence intervals, and even Bayesian statistics. It includes lectures and practical assignments – because there is no better way to learn something than by doing it yourself, right?

Blogs

The 20% Statistician is the Blog by Daniel Lakens, experimental psychologist at the Human-Technology Interaction group at Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands. He blogs mostly about the statistical background of psychological methodology. Recent posts have been about the error rates in significance testing with posts titled “Justify Your Alpha by Minimizing or Balancing Error Rates” and “Requiring high-powered studies from scientists with resource constraints”. These might not be the first topics that come to mind thinking about psychology as a student, however when there is a presentation about scientific practice coming up or you have to plan a study as part of a seminar or for your Bachelor or Master Thesis you should check out this blog to get quick and easy ideas which problems researchers are struggling with and how them attempt to fix their problems.


Why do we do what we do?

Have you ever wondered why we behave the way we do? Why we choose to eat an apple instead of a chocolate bar–or the other way around? Why do we snooze the alarm, even though we know we are getting late to class? Why do we have goals and work towards them?

Books

  • Daniel Kahneman: Thinking, Fast And Slow

Daniel Kahneman wrote this book about the work he did with his research colleague Amos Tversky, which ended up winning him the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2002 (Tversky had already passed away in 1996). Together they had focused on the research in the field of heuristics and biases, eventually ending up creating the Prospect Theory. This work is considered to be pioneering work for the field of behavioral economics. Kahneman summarizes his lifetime work in this book in an easy to read way, which is especially interesting for everyone who wants to get an overview over important ideas and developments in the field of economic psychology.

  • Cass Sunstein & Richard Thaler: Nudge Theory

This book is a must read for everyone who is interested in practical applications of psychological knowledge besides the clinical field. Based on research of heuristics and biases, Thaler and Sunstein describe the power of nudging within society. Nudging is a concept in which psychologists, politicians and economists use default options and intelligently designed systems to advance society. The most famous example is organ donation, which in most countries you must explicitly enroll for. In these countries, the rate of donators is really low, despite overwhelming support. In countries where citizens organ donors by default, the rate of organ donors is really high, despite an easy opt-out option. These and many more examples can be found in the book, so we recommend it to everyone interested in any public application of psychology, whether public health or economic or organizational psychology.

  • Michael Lewis: The Undoing Project – A Friendship That Changed Our Minds

Michael Lewis will take you through findings that have revolutionized psychological science in a character-driven native by describing the lives of the two scientists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky who became famous for their studies about the decision-making process.

  • Volker Kitz & Manuel Tusch: Psycho? Logical! Useful finding from everyday
    psychology

Kitz and Tusch’s popular science’s book is a great way to start our journey on understanding the human behavior. “How do we function… and why? Why are we happier when our salary is increased? Why do we tend to blame other people when things go wrong?” To answer these questions, the authors analyze a series of everyday situations everybody experiences and propose some really useful advices and psychological tricks on how to improve our daily interactions–all of this in a humorous way. Because in getting to know ourselves and others, we can find the way to live a better life.

Journal Articles

  • Slovic, P., Finucane, M. L., Peters, E., & MacGregor, D. G. (2004). Risk as analysis and risk as feelings: Some thoughts about affect, reason, risk, and rationality. Risk Analysis: An International Journal, 24(2), 311-322. doi.org/10.1111/j.0272-4332.2004.00433.x

In our daily life, we make a lot of decisions, many of which even go unnoticed. From sleeping for five more minutes or not, to what socks to use, greeting or not a person… It seems like we are perfect decision-making machines… However, we all know that this is far from reality. In this paper, the authors analyze the two systems involved in the decision-making process–especially when risk is involved: a rational system and an automatic system. When do they function? How do they combine? Are we always making rational decisions? Or are we automatons, triggered by situations and acting the same way over and over again? These questions and more are answered within this interesting paper!

  • Bonezzi, A., Brendl, C. M., & De Angelis, M. (2011). Stuck in the middle: The psychophysics of goal pursuit. Psychological science, 22(5), 607-612. doi.org/10.1177%2F0956797611404899

Have you ever wondered how your motivational state helps you to reach a goal? Although the classical theory about goal-seeking postulated that motivation increases as the goal is being approached, in this study, the authors suggest that motivation can decline midway to the final goal–which seems very logical, right? Throughout three experiments, the authors find support to a model where three different patterns can be observed when reaching a goal: one focused on the starting point–like when we count the hours we have been studying; one focused on the end–like marking down the days left until vacation time; and an inverted U pattern, which shows a “stuck in the middle” state… Read the paper to find out more about this curious concept!

Videos

In this eye-catching TED Talk, Matt Walker explains how sleep is the greatest superpower anyone can have. How something that leaves us practically defenceless can have so many benefits? “Sleep is your life-support system and Mother Nature’s best effort yet at immortality”. The speaker highlights the good things our body gets from sleep, as well as all the bad things we can suffer from when we don’t let our mind and body get their very needed rest. At the end, the presenter asks Matt Walker some tips on how to get a sleep of better quality or how to catch it when it seems to slip out of our hands.

Leonhard Volz

Leonhard Volz

Leonhard currently is in his bachelor's studies in psychology and in statistics at the University of Vienna and a student assistant at the Educational Psychology department. His main areas of interest are research methodology and knowledge transfer in interdisciplinary psychological research - under the banner of Open Science principles. His personal happy moments are when he finds the time to open up a novel again.

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