individual differences, averaging across subjects, factorial design, inferring cognitive processes, SFT




Inferences we make about underlying cognitive processes can be jeopardized in two ways due to problematic forms of aggregation. First, averaging across individuals is typically considered a very useful tool for removing random variability. The threat is that averaging across subjects leads to averaging across different cognitive strategies, thus harming our inferences. The second threat comes from the construction of inadequate research designs possessing a low diagnostic accuracy of cognitive processes. For that reason we introduced the systems factorial technology (SFT), which has primarily been designed to make inferences about underlying processing order (serial, parallel, coactive), stopping rule (terminating, exhaustive), and process dependency. SFT proposes that the minimal research design complexity to learn about n number of cognitive processes should be equal to 2n. In addition, SFT proposes that (a) each cognitive process should be controlled by a separate experimental factor, and (b) The saliency levels of all factors should be combined in a full factorial design. In the current study, the author cross combined the levels of jeopardies in a 2 × 2 analysis, leading to four different analysis conditions. The results indicate a decline in the diagnostic accuracy of inferences made about cognitive processes due to the presence of each jeopardy in isolation and when combined. The results warrant the development of more individual subject analyses and the utilization of full-factorial (SFT) experimental designs.


Original Citation:

Fific, M. (2014). Double jeopardy in inferring cognitive processes. Frontiers in Psychology, 5.

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