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Jumping to Conclusions: Advocacy and Application of Psychological Research

The Politics of Social Psychology (J.T. Crawford & L. Jussim editors, 2018)

Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2017-31

18 Pages Posted: 25 May 2017 Last revised: 7 Jun 2017

Gregory Mitchell

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: May 25, 2017

Abstract

Just as a researcher’s values and beliefs inevitably affect what topics are chosen for study and how those topics are studied, the same is true for any application of psychological research to a new domain. Because every psychological theory is subject to conditions and uncertainty about its coverage, every application of theory will require many judgments about which variables will be behaviorally potent and which will not be in any new setting. These judgments will inevitably draw on the researcher’s own beliefs and values to inform the extrapolations required for the extension of research. The influence of these beliefs and values will rarely be made explicit, perhaps not even to the researcher herself, but such influence is inevitable. Until psychologists endorse a set of shared specific norms for evaluating construct and external validity (and concomitantly for when applications are appropriate and how applied advice is given), and until social scientists devote as much attention in post-publication review to construct and external validity critiques as to internal validity critiques, unsupportable and misleading extensions of psychological research will persist.

Keywords: external validity, applied social psychology

Suggested Citation

Mitchell, Gregory, Jumping to Conclusions: Advocacy and Application of Psychological Research (May 25, 2017). The Politics of Social Psychology (J.T. Crawford & L. Jussim editors, 2018); Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2017-31. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2973892

Gregory Mitchell (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States
434-243-4088 (Phone)

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