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Can Imagining you’re a professor make you smarter?

April 20, 2018

Back in 1998 Dijksterhius and Van Knippenberg set up an experiment where participants spent time writing about themselves as either a professor or a football hooligan. Those who had imagined they were professors did better in a 20 question trivia quiz, and so the ‘professor- prime effect’ was born.

 

Since 1998 psychologists took it as read that this result was right, and it spawned a whole branch of psychological research into social priming. The idea being that primed thoughts, like thinking of being a professor can affect later behaviour.

 

In recent years, the field of psychology has been doing more replications of older studies to check effects are genuine in real life. Experiments in this branch of study have not really been successfully replicated. So eyes have turned back to the original ‘professor-prime’ study for replication.

 

40 labs tried to replicate the ‘professor prime’ experiments and included some of its slightly questionable participant selection processes and new trivia questions. The effect in the 40 replication studies was nearly 100 times weaker. The only effect only occurred if the participants who suspected the first task was linked to the quiz were taken out of the study data. But even this only gave the professor primed individuals a 2% advantaged, which is tiny compared to the 13% advantage in the original study.

 

So, the professor prime study is debunked along with many of the other studies in the social priming field of investigation, it seems the social priming effect is not really an effect at all. However, this is a great example of how Psychology is changing. It is becoming more rigorous and re-examining earlier studies when there may have been less rigour is changing the face of psychology today.

 

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If you or someone you know would like Therapy, please contact me by clicking here.

 

Please subscribe here on my blog page for regular updates about Psychology, Therapy and Wellness.

 

 

Ref: https://digest.bps.org.uk/2018/03/26/sorry-but-imagining-youre-a-professor-wont-make-your-smarter-an-unsuccessful-mass-replication-of-the-professor-prime-effect/

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