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We Often See Quite a Lot of Interesting Research Findings, but How Many of Them Are Trustworthy?

We Often See Quite a Lot of Interesting Research Findings, but How Many of Them Are Trustworthy?

Experimenter bias plagues research publications every year.

Experimenters, their studies, and their results are far from perfect.

We have all heard of the academic misconduct, intentional manipulation, and researchers who blatantly lie in their research.

However, it is safe to assume that most researchers have good intentions when performing experiments and writing publications.

Despite good intentions, it is important to understand that all researchers are subject to one major downfall: experimenter bias.

Understanding Experimenter Bias [1]

In its simplest form, bias is when our mind tends to favor something.

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We all have our own set of bias, including our political views, our ideology, or what we expect from someone or something.

These biases influence how we speak, what we do, or who we vote for.

This isn’t only the case in everyday living, but in research as well.

Experimenters struggle to keep their preconceived notions out of their experiments. Unfortunately, this can happen during their experiment and influence the results.

This process is termed experimenter bias.

How Experimenter Bias Happens

When experimenters interact too closely with their subjects, or have preconceived notion of what to expect, biases start influencing the experiment. These effects are usually subtle, and often times even unintentional.

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In fact, most researchers may get so caught up in their research that they get trapped in their own hypothesis.

For instance, a researcher might over explain the intended results to their subjects, and the knowledge the subjects gain can influence their behavior.

Experimenter and subject interaction isn’t the only source experimenter bias either.

Experimenter bias can also be in the form of the design. Becoming too infatuated with their outcome can cause them to manipulate the experiment.

Examples of Experimenter Bias [2]

We are all familiar with the bodybuilding supplement industry. They often show their products producing incredible strength gains or weight loss results through multiple “studies”, while a different study with the same ingredients fail to indicate anything. If these are considered clinical studies, they can often times be an example of experimenter bias.

Essentially, the researchers altered specific aspects of their experiments to produce the results they were hoping to see, either with participants they choose, the way they interacted with their subjects, or by the way they designed the testing.

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However, not all types of experimenter bias are intentional.

One of the most popular examples of experimenter bias was done by Rosenthal and Fode in 1963 (2). In this example, two groups of students received rats to analyze. These rats were suppose to be judged on their ability to navigate a maze. One group was told their rats were “bright” while another was told their rats were “dull”, although in reality both groups were randomized without any different characteristics.

The students who analyzed the “bright group” rated their rats more highly then did the “dull group”. In essence, the group who anticipated their rats to perform well, influenced their actions to prove it. Rosenthal and Fode noted that this may have even been done unconsciously.

How Researchers Reduce Experimenter Bias [3]

Extensive Peer Review Process

If enough qualified “eyes” review the publication, then hopefully the biases become identified and the experiment isn’t published.

Blind Data Collectors

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This is achieved by having data collecting personnel unaware of the subjects (both the control and experimenter group) and unaware of the hypothesis. Therefore, they don’t know what the expected outcome is when they perform the experiment and collect the results.

Double-Blind Experimenter Design

With double-blind studies, both the experimenter and subjects are unaware of which group is controlled and which group is experimental. In addition, the design of the experiment can also be done by someone who is unaware of the hypothesis.

How You can Identify Experimenter Bias as a Reader

Look for key aspects including:

  • A control group
  • It is a “double-blind” experiment, both the experimenter and subjects are withheld from knowing which group is the control and which is the experimental
  • The funder isn’t influencing or interacting with the experiment
  • Evidence that the publication went through a rigid review process
  • That the selection of applicants was randomized
  • Assure that the control group was evaluated as thoroughly as the experimental group

If any of these criteria aren’t meant, you should start analyzing the publication more rigidly and start questioning its quality and you should begin questioning if its worth citing.

What Should Be Taken Away From This?

  • It is necessary to read the entire research publication and not just the abstract and results.
  • It is essential as readers that we can identify and disseminate when a bias is occurring.
  • Understanding the context of the experiment is just as important as understanding the results.
  • Even the best researchers with the greatest intentions are still susceptible to bias errors

As readers, it is just as much our responsibility to interpret and understand the literature as it is for researchers to produce honest and quality literature.

The next time you hear somebody talk about a “study” or “research” make sure to question them on experiment, and don’t be afraid to discuss biases.

Reference

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Nicole Stone

Professional Writer | Content Strategist | Blogger

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Last Updated on February 1, 2019

How to Increase Your Self Awareness to Be Much More Successful

How to Increase Your Self Awareness to Be Much More Successful

Self awareness can be defined as having a clear understanding of your personality, including your beliefs, emotions, motivation, strengths and weaknesses.

A 2010 study by Green Peak Partners and Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations found that self awareness is a key and common characteristic of successful leaders. [1]

And research[2] by the Driehaus College of Business at De Paul University has also demonstrated that high self awareness leads to improved team performance.

Self Awareness Makes You Improve Much Faster Than the Others

“If I have lost confidence in myself, I have the universe against me.” – Ralicoph Waldo Emerson

Self awareness allows us to understand who we are, and how others see us. From this, we can determine how similar or different we are to other people.

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Individuals with high self awareness tend to live happier and more fulfilling lives. That’s because being self aware brings several powerful benefits, including:

  • Finding and expressing your authentic self.
  • Being proactive, instead of reactive.
  • Enjoying positive and harmonious interpersonal relationships.
  • Having deeper thoughts.
  • Revealing your true purpose.

One secret behind the magic of self awareness, is the fact that being self aware allows you to see your weaknesses. Once you know what they are, you can then act accordingly to fix them (where possible).

As an example, think back to a time when you achieved a major success in your life. Your confidence jumped off the scale, and suddenly, everything in your life began to look rosy. However, success was fleeting, and before long you were not only back where you started – but had lost your initial faith and confidence too.

Instead of seeing this as bad luck or personal failure, the better response would be to analyze exactly what happened.

What caused your success? What caused your failure? And what could you have done differently?

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By answering these questions, you’ll gain insight into your decision making and personality traits. Most importantly, you’ll be able to discover where you went wrong, and how you could avoid this next time around. This is how self awareness becomes a crucial partner in reaching your dreams and goals.

How to Increase Your Self Awareness

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.” – Lao-Tze

Okay, you’ve now seen some of the ways that self awareness can boost your success in life. (And we’ve only scratched the surface of potential benefits.)

It’s now time to reveal several tips and techniques that will increase your self awareness.

Take a psychometric test: You’ll understand more about yourself

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Psychometric tests are ideal for raising your self awareness. The tests force you to think deeply about yourself, and how your react to different situations. Self reflection = Self awareness. Try this free, 100-question psychometric test offered by the University of Cambridge.

Keep a personal journal: It can reduce anxiety and depression at the same time

Writing a daily journal can be a great tool for increasing your self awareness. If your writing is honest and open, you’ll quickly discover things about yourself that you’d never previously realised. You’ll also begin to see how habits create your conditions. For self awareness purposes, your daily journal should (at the very least) list your biggest failures and greatest successes of the day. Science supports the effectiveness of journalism, with a recent Psychotherapy Research study[3] showing that writing a daily journal reduced anxiety and depression.

Learn to meditate: To clear your thoughts

If you’ve never tried meditating before, then you should definitely consider trying it, if you want to boost your self awareness. Meditation can help you to delve below the incessant chatter of your conscious mind, and instead, let you tap into the depths of your subconscious mind. As well as boosting your well-being and health, meditation can clear your thoughts, and help you to become more creative.[4]

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How to get started? There are plenty of books and videos that can teach you the basics of meditation. Alternatively, you’ll be sure to find mediation classes in your local area.

Ask for feedback: You’ll be amazed

Choose a close family member or friend who knows you well. Ask then to give you an honest appraisal of your actions, beliefs and motivations. You’ll be amazed (and possibly shocked!) at what you hear. In fact, it’s likely that you’ll gain a completely new perspective on yourself. Use this new knowledge to make positive changes that could increase your effectiveness and success in life.

Through boosting your self awareness, you’ll begin to see new, exciting opportunities for growth and success. You’ll also learn how others see you. This will help your interpersonal relationships – as well as your ability to read others.

Self awareness can help you predict the success of others. It can also help you predict your own success.

So, choose to follow in the footsteps of the highly-successful, and start developing your self awareness today.

Reference

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