Doing Psychological Research

Christian D. Schunn
John R. Anderson


We present a study designed to test what kinds of skills psychologists actually use in designing and interpreting experiments, and contrast expertise within a particular research area with general expertise at designing and interpreting experiments. In the task, called the Simulated Psychology Lab, subjects design and run a series of experiments to test between two theories for a phenomenon. The results suggest that psychologists use many domain-general skills in their experimentation and that bright and motivated Carnegie Mellon undergraduates are missing many of these skills. We present an ACT-R model of Domain-Expert performance in the task and show how the differences between the different subject groups can be captured by removing certain chunks and productions from this model. The model provides futher insights into the nature of expertise and demonstrates that smaller grain-sized ACT-R 4.0 is capable of modeling preformance in a very complex task.


SPL task