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The Evolution of a Series of Impression Formation Experiments: A Methods Case Study

By: Megan K. McCarty, Donal E. Carlston, Timothy C. McCall & Louis Tay Published: 2018 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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This methods case study discusses how the focus and reporting of a series of impression formation experiments evolved over time. Support for the initial study hypotheses was not obtained, but effects that were initially viewed as peripheral were ultimately recognized as telling a different, but nonetheless interesting and cohesive narrative. Thus, we reframed our presentation of this work, and in doing so had the responsibility to be transparent about this change in focus and mindful about best research practices. This case study begins by summarizing the original intent of this research project and proceeds to discuss an anticipated methodological issue: whether to manipulate variables within- or between-subjects. We then proceed to discuss two unanticipated challenges. First, as we wrote up results that did not support our focal hypotheses, we had to negotiate the desire to streamline the reporting of the findings with the need to be ethical and transparent about our original research intentions. Second, upon receiving reviewer comments, we decided the best way to address these was to bring in a statistics expert to advise us on addressing more sophisticated questions regarding the mechanism underlying the obtained effects. We conclude our discussion with a brief reflection on the project as a whole and our advice based on this experience.

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