Thank you for taking an interest in working with me and joining the lab. To make things clearer and easier before you contact me, please read the following carefully.
[Note: I answer questions on “Working with me FAQ“. These might have answers to your questions.]
Who is this for?
The openings are for University of Hong Kong undergraduate or masters students pursuing a thesis. Specifically, this is for those taking guided thesis courses PSYC7308 in masters and PSYC4008 for undergraduates.
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 and the type of projects I do, think about the implications of working with me, and then communicate to me clearly why you think we should work together. More on that below.
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. See my recommended videos and recommended books on the topic.
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/reproducibility crisis”) raising the need for both more replication work and meta-analytic summaries of the existing literature and data. See my recommended videos on the science crisis.
NOTE: I currently only do one type of thesis project. This is very different from what other faculty are doing in the department, so please read this very carefully.
All theses are about conducting a pre-registered replication and extension of a classic experiment on heuristics and biases in judgment and decision making.
- Analyze classic readings.
- Design a very close replication (adjusted to today).
- Review the related literature to think of and design extensions to the classic experiment.
- Write an in-depth pre-registration.
- Analyze the collected datasets of your experiment.
- Write up APA style journal-submission ready thesis report.
Experiments will be conducted on an American online sample using Amazon Mechanical Turk labor market with Qualtrics surveys, possibly supplemented by an undergraduate sample at HKU. You will not need to collect data, I will conduct the data collection.
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 (PSYC2020/PSYC3052/PSYC2071). I am currently head a mass replication effort with undergraduates taking my courses. See more information in “Pre-registered replications“.
You can choose two-three biases from our list of planned replications. These are articles that I identified as needing a replication and are straightforward and simple enough for you to conduct this as a student.
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.
What is a replication? Why do replications?
I wrote a post for Psychology Today explaining my journey and why I’m doing this project – “Promoting the Credibility Revolution: The Journey to Open-Science“.
I recommend watching the following videos to get a better understanding of what replications are and why I’m doing those.
My intro to open-science and our replication project (discussing this project starts at 41:35):
Brian Nosek of the Center of Open Science talks about replications and why these are exciting to do:
Why? 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 (though not always). 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. I emphasize good solid science practices over everything else. 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 in the articles we aim to replicate.
- 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 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 best possible experiment, and doing the best possible analysis of the findings.
- I lead a mass replication project in three 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. Undergraduates who do a thesis with me should enroll in my PSYC3052/PSYC2071 courses so that you can leverage the experience gained from course work to deliver the highest quality thesis.
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 examples of theses of pre-registered replication that I published with students, please see our growing list of publications and reprints from this project (under section “Publications & Preprints”).
Examples of theses conducted with me in 2018-9:
- Rachel: Wong & Kwong 2007 JAP Escalation of commitment and anticipated regret: Replication and extension [Undergraduate]
- Cora: Alicke 1985 JPSP Better than average effect: Replication and extension [Masters]
- Papara: Epstein, Denes-Raj and Pacini (1995) : Pre-registered replication & extension [Undergraduate]
- Florence: Caruso, Gilbert, & Wilson (2008) and Caruso (2010) Temporal Value Asymmetry: Replications and extensions [Masters]
- Kwan: Roese & Olson 1996 JESP Counterfactuals, causality, and hindsight: Replication and extension [Undergraduate]
- Hung: Hsee & Zhang 2004 JPSP Distinction Bias: Replication and extension [Undergraduate]
In your advisor preference form, you need to indicate that you’ve read two theses. For undergrad theses, please read Rachel’s and Papara’s, for masters please read Cora’s and Florence’s.
These theses have already had an impact on the field, with some international media attention, see our growing media attention coverage. Several of these theses have already been published, and I am hopeful most if not all of the others will eventually be officially published.
See examples (both UG and MA work):
- Reanna Hung’s thesis was published in Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
- Cora Mok’s thesis was published in Social Psychological and Personality Science
There is also a large team of international scholars who have joined us in our mass replication project, working with me and the students in submitting this work to academic journals, see “Our team“.
Contacting me about working with me
When you contact me, please copy-paste the following list to your email and answer 1 by 1:
- 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 that you’ve read and understood that.
- Indicate that you have read, understood, and accept all the content on this page, especially the “my basic expectations of you”.
- Indicate your first/native language (Cantonese, Mandarin, English, or any other language if international student).
- indicate your majors and minors.
- Rate 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).
- Rate your general familiarity with R, Rmarkdown, and/or JAMOVI/JASP (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 the list of planned replications and see if any of those are of interest to you. When you contact me, please indicate two or three replications that you would like to work on.
- Attach a brief CV or something that would help me know something about you.
- Please provide your GPA, and if possible – specific grades in psychology and statistics.
- If you’ve taken a course with me previously or spoke to me somewhere at some point, please also attach a photo which would help me remember who you are (apologies, I’m pretty bad with Cantonese and Mandarin names, which makes generally bad memory for names even worse). If you have an English nickname, that might help me, please do share your nickname with me.
- Finally, indicate that you understand and accept the goal of turning internship/thesis outputs to a high-quality top-tier journal article submission.
My basic expectations of you
- A person with an independent and open mindset, an honest and serious working style. I also appreciate a 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/RStudio, or with some familiarity with R/RStudio (or JAMOVI at the very least), and the willingness to become proficient in R/RStudio. If you’re only proficient with SPSS/STATA/SAS, then that you are willing to put those behind and fully transition to R/RStudio. I will help you with that, and it will serve you well in the job market, I assure you.
- 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.
- 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 to 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 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.
Post-docs, postgraduate, graduate students, and visiting students
Thank you, but I am currently not looking for and have no funding for post-docs, postgraduate, graduate, or visiting students.
Thank you, but I am currently not looking for research assistants.
Thank you, but I am currently not looking for research interns.