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Regressive research: The pitfalls of post hoc data selection in the study of unconscious mental processes

Shanks, DR; (2017) Regressive research: The pitfalls of post hoc data selection in the study of unconscious mental processes. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review , 24 (3) pp. 752-775. 10.3758/s13423-016-1170-y. Green open access

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Abstract

Many studies of unconscious processing involve comparing a performance measure (e.g., some assessment of perception or memory) with an awareness measure (such as a verbal report or a forced-choice response) taken either concurrently or separately. Unconscious processing is inferred when above-chance performance is combined with null awareness. Often, however, aggregate awareness is better than chance, and data analysis therefore employs a form of extreme group analysis focusing post hoc on participants, trials, or items where awareness is absent or at chance. The pitfalls of this analytic approach are described with particular reference to recent research on implicit learning and subliminal perception. Because of regression to the mean, the approach can mislead researchers into erroneous conclusions concerning unconscious influences on behavior. Recommendations are made about future use of post hoc selection in research on unconscious cognition.

Type: Article
Title: Regressive research: The pitfalls of post hoc data selection in the study of unconscious mental processes
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3758/s13423-016-1170-y
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/s13423-016-1170-y
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author(s) 2016 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Keywords: Error, Implicit, Regression to the mean, Subliminal, Unconscious
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1524772
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