Thank you for taking an interest in working with me and joining my lab. To make things clearer and easier before you contact me, please read the following carefully.
[UPDATE Jan 10, 2019: I’ve been receiving many emails with questions and requests for meetings about working with me. I, therefore, started a “Working with me FAQ” where I’ll post answers to emails I receive. Generally, I will assume you read this page, the FAQ, and browsed through my website before getting in touch. If you haven’t, I hope you’ll understand when I reply with a simple email linking to this page.]
Post-docs, postgraduate and graduate students, and visiting students
I currently have no funding for post-docs, postgraduate, graduate, or visiting students.
I am happy to consider all of those if you have your own external funding, if your research interests are close to mine, and our research practices align (open science, etc., please read below).
Thank you, but I am currently not looking for research assistants.
Thank you, but I am currently not looking for research interns, although I am always happy to work with enthusiastic and passionate students 1 on 1. This is only an option for HKU undergraduates that have previously taken one of my courses and have done well (A/A+) and through the PSYC2072 and PSYC2073 HKU courses option.
If you would like to work with me as an intern , please read “Masters / Undergraduate thesis” section below regarding the option “Conducting Registered Replication Report of a classic experiment on heuristics and biases in judgment and decision making”, and if you feel you’d like to undertake something like that as extra on top of your workload, feel free to contact me. In such collaborations, I act more as a guiding collaborator.
Masters / Undergraduate thesis
Who is this for?
The internship openings are for University of Hong Kong undergraduate or masters students pursuing a thesis in the year 2018-9.
Possible thesis topics and methods
People do not always act rationally. When making decisions, people employ ‘rules of thumb’ (heuristics) that sometimes lead to biases that may seem as irrational. As an example, the “action-effect” by Nobel prize winning Kahneman and Tversky (1982) is the phenomenon that people tend to regret negative outcomes more when they are a result of action (acting) compared to inaction (not acting) (more details in this publication about the action-effect). This is an exciting and prolific area of research with many interesting findings highlighting the bounded rationality of the human mind with fairly strong and consistent effects.
In the last few years psychology (and science more broadly) has been facing new challenges with failed replications for classic findings (sometimes referred to as the “replication crisis”, see videos at the end of my “research” page) raising the need for both more replication work and meta-analytic summaries of the existing literature and data.
Internship/thesis will be one of the following two:
- Conducting a pre-registered replication report of a classic experiment on heuristics and biases in judgment and decision making: We will aim to replicate classic experiments on biases. The experiments will be conducted on an online sample using Amazon Mechanical Turk labor market using Qualtrics surveys, and possibly supplemented by an undergraduate sample at HKU.
To get a better idea of what this kind of project involves, please have a look at the pre-registered replication projects guide, which I use to do the replications in my courses.
- [mainly for masters students, especially those considering pursuing an academic career or for serious undergraduate thinking of proceeding to graduate school]
Conducting a pre-registered meta-analysis of the literature on a classic bias: In this project we will examine all the literature on a single classic bias and conduct a quantitative meta-analytic review and summary of the findings. We will review the literature and call other researchers to share their unpublished findings, and then proceed to run a statistical method to compute the combined effect-size of all findings. Since different papers will show different effect-sizes, we will also look for moderators to explain these differences (sample size, publication bias, etc. and other theoretically meaningful moderators).
In either one of these options, I will suggest two or three biases for you to choose from where I identified that a replication or a meta-analysis is needed and is straightforward and simple enough for you to conduct this as a student. I’ll match it to your needs.
All work will adhere to the principles of open-science, sharing all process, materials, data, code, and decision criteria. It is extremely important to me that you also believe in the importance of rigorous transparent and open science.
Advantages of this type of thesis
This is a very organized systematic project that minimizes concerns in typical thesis projects:
- We build our work on that of great academic minds. We will revisit and re-examine some of the best work done in the field. It means that we build on impactful solid work that mattered, which hopefully also increases the likelihood of observing real phenomenon. Importantly, regardless of what we’ll find, this is likely to be a valuable learning experience that would be of interest to the academic community.
- This is a replication (/meta). You will not need to come up with “innovative” ideas based on literature you don’t know well or worry if your ideas are good or not, or how to implement them. Things are pretty straightforward and simple in the articles we aim to replicate (or the bias literature we aim to summarize).
- Findings are findings. We care about rigor and process, not the outcomes. It doesn’t matter if results are “significant” or not, we will focus on getting things right. You do not need to worry if things will “work” or not.
- You will not need to worry about data collection. I will do the data collection using my research funds on Amazon Mechanical Turk labor market using Qualtrics surveys to ensure we have high-quality well-powered samples. It eliminates a lot of uncertainties and leg-work students usually find difficult to complete or do well. You will focus on what’s important – designing the experiment, and analyzing the results.
- In 2017-8 I led a mass replication project in one-semester HKU courses (fundamentals of social psychology 2020, advanced social psychology 3052B, judgment and decision making 2071). This means that this is all very doable for the schedule of a thesis. You are encouraged to enroll in my courses, so that you can also combine the thesis with course work, and receive needed statistics and methods training.
Another major advantage, especially if you’re thinking of pursuing graduate school or an academic career, is that I publish these with my students.
For an example of a masters thesis of a pre-registered replication that I published with a student in a great journal, please see:
- Kutscher, L. & ^Feldman, G. (2019) The impact of past behavior normality on regret: Replication and extension of three experiments of the exceptionality effect. Cognition and Emotion. DOI: 10.1080/02699931.2018.1504747
There are currently over 10 other such projects I did with my students in the pipeline, you can see some of those in the working papers section.
Contacting me about working with me
When you contact me:
- As a student working with me, you will be my collaborator. Please read what I expect of my collaborations, especially the last section about collaborations with students.
- Indicate your familiarity with open-science, replications, and pre-registration procedures (0 – none; 10 – expert).
- Rate your general familiarity with heuristics and biases (0 – none; 10 – expert).
- Add an open-science statement (one paragraph max) to help me see that we share the same mindset on this important topic.
- Briefly go over my publications list (focus on the research about biases) and check that you find my research and methods a good fit for you. When you contact me, please indicate (briefly) one or two examples of my research on biases that you find compelling.
- Finally, indicate that you understand and accept to the goal of turning internship/thesis outputs to a high-quality top-tier journal article submission.
Examples for previous related work conducted under my supervision can be found on the “Working papers” section with examples on the exceptionality effect, omission bias, mere ownership effect, status quo bias, etc.
Please understand that there are far more students approaching me than I can ever supervise, and so I might not be able to guide you. Fit is important, which is why when you contact me it is important that you do your homework about me, think about the implications of working with me, and then communicate to me clearly why you think we should work together.
My basic expectations of you
- A person with an independent and open mindset, and honest and serious working style. I also appreciate straightforward, direct, and responsive communication style.
- You are fluent in English, both speaking and writing.
- You support open-science.
- You are either proficient in R/JAMOVI, or with some familiarity with R/JAMOVI, and the willingness to become proficient. If you’re only proficient with SPSS/STATA/SAS, then that you are willing to put those behind and fully transition to R/JAMOVI.
- Your thesis project will aim to meet the highest standards in our field, and that will require serious, dedicated, and careful work. A common misconception is that replications are ‘easy’ and replications are often undervalued, but nothing is further from the truth. My experience is that replications require extremely serious and careful work, addressing issues, sensitives, and possibilities in the original work being replicated. If done well, replications have the impact and article publishing potential of original research. Meta-analyses even more so.
- I take research projects very seriously and will invest time and effort on my part to help you succeed. I do expect your utmost dedication to your thesis and meeting its goals. If you are committed to this, then I will be committed in helping you make the most of this experience by aiming to complete the thesis leading to a co-authored article submission together.
- I will advise you, and provide you with links and resources, but it will still require much independent learning on your part to meet up with the standards and rigor of open-science.
- I will expect that you push yourself and set your own ambitious schedule. I will not manage you or urge you, so progress will depend on you pushing things forward.