How? Open Science
Our lab is committed to the values of open and transparent science. We feel that recent developments in psychology can go a long way to improve the reproducibility and replicability of psychological research. In particular, we pre-register almost all of our current research. In addition, we provide the materials, analysis code, and data of our empirical studies. In our teaching, we strive to convey the values of open and transparent science to our students. Students pre-register their Bachelor and Master theses with the supervisor. Although adopting an open and transparent work flow is an ongoing process, we feel that our research has already profited greatly by implementing these.
What? Research Topics
The social psychology lab conducts research in several different areas of social psychology. Most of our current work is situated in the domains of self-control and self-regulation, close relationships and sexuality, and negotiations. Other lines of research are concerned with meta-scientific perspectives on psychological research Earlier work was concerned with implicit cognition. On the following pages, we provide brief glances on some of these lines of research.
Self-control is considered a trait that is fairly stable across time. Good self-control is associated with a host of positive outcomes including good mental and physical health, stable personal relationships, and wealth. Despite being a prominent research topic in several subfields of psychology, there is no clear consensus about how self-control should be defined. Some researchers stress the control of dominant responses such as thoughts, emotions, and impulses as defining elements of self-control. Other definitions are much broader. One line of current work seeks to develop a theory-guided, encompassing conceptualization of self-control. This project seeks to closely consider overlap with and distinctiveness from related constructs in the personality space, and elucidate implications for the measurement of self-control.
If self-control is apparently so helpful in living a healthy, happy, and prosperous life, a self-suggesting question is how it can be improved. Some researchers examined if regular practice of self-control can lead to changes not only in the practiced domain, but more broadly in domains that require self-control. A recent meta-analysis of this literature from our lab provided mixed support for this idea and concluded that more theoretical and empirical work is needed before firm conclusions can be drawn (Friese, Frankenbach, Job, & Loschelder, 2017).
A prominent idea suggests that the exertion of self-control impairs performance in subsequent attempts at self-control (ego depletion effect). After a prolific period in which this phenomenon has received abundant attention in research and the public media, the field as been confronted with severe doubts about the robustness and replicability of much of the reported research. A review from our lab about the state of the field concluded that there is no conclusive evidence for the phenomenon beyond reasonable doubt, but neither is there conclusive evidence that the phenomenon does not exist. Both better theoretical and empirical work is needed to gain a deeper understanding of ego depletion effects (Friese, Loschelder, Gieseler, Frankenbach, & Inzlicht, 2019). Ongoing work examines the role of mental effort as indicated by psychophysiological measures in the emergence of ego depletion effects.
The dynamics of self-control
Many self-control situations are characterized by conflicts between individuals’ long-term goals and their short-term impulses. Based on contemporary dual-process and dual-system models of human behavior, we examined the interplay of three components that jointly shape self-regulatory behavior: (1) reflective precursors of behavior such as explicit attitudes and personal standards, (2) impulsive precursors of behavior such as spontaneous affective reactions toward a temptation, and (3) boundary factors that shift the weight of reflective and impulsive processes on behavior such as the willingness and the ability of the individual to exert control over behavior. A series of studies supported the assumptions that reflective precursors correspond to observed self-regulatory behavior better under conditions of high ability to control and the reverse was true for impulsive precursors of behavior (for an overview, see Hofmann, Friese, & Strack, 2009).
Our lab recently started doing research on human sexuality. This research is therefore work in progress. One focus revolves around trait sex drive. We conceptualize sex drive as stable patterns of sexual thoughts/fantasies, desire, and behavior. A recent meta-analysis on gender differences in sex drive building on this framework found evidence for a stronger sex drive in men compared to women (Frankenbach, Weber, Loschelder, Kilger, & Friese, in preparation). Also building on this theoretical framework, we seek to create a scale to efficiently measure individual differences in sex drive (Weber, Frankenbach, Reis, & Friese, in preparation). We also examine antecedents of situational experiences in everyday life and consequences of trait sex drive in and outside the sexual domain.
Research on negotiations examined effects of the magnitude and precision level of first offers in negotiations. Increasing precision leads to a stronger anchoring pull for negotiation amateurs. For experts, precision backfires unless a convincing rationale is given (Loschelder, Friese, Schaerer, & Galinsky, 2016). A second line of work showed that making the first offer in a negotiation is often helpful, but may be exploited by the opponent if the first offer reveals priority information (Loschelder, Trötschel, Swaab, Friese, & Galinsky, 2016). Other work demonstrated that self-regulation techniques such as goal setting and forming if-then plans can help negotiators overcome the detriments of being in disadvantageous positions such as having low power (for an overview, see Jäger, Loschelder, & Friese, 2015). Current lines of research further examine effects of price precision and effects of stereotypes in negotiations.
In the last 25 years, implicit measures of attitudes and stereotypes have sparked immense research interest. Some of our research investigated influences of stimulus selection in Implicit Association Tests (Bluemke & Friese, 2006, 2012) and the psychometric properties of the Single Category Implicit Association Test (SC-IAT; Bluemke & Friese, 2008). A review of the literature on the predictive validity of implicit measures built on a two-dimensional classification system of moderators based on contemporary dual-process models. The review concluded that predictive validity is particularly strong under conditions that make reflective processing less likely (Friese, Hofmann, & Schmitt, 2008).
Another focus of our work was the application of implicit measures to the prediction of political voting behavior (for an overview, see Friese, Smith, Koever, & Bluemke, 2016).
Some of our projects are concerned with Meta-Science - research about research. In one project, we investigated the efficacy of post-experimental debriefings to remedy the negative effects of ego threatening manipulations in research studies on participants' well-being (Miketta & Friese, 2019). Two projects examined the theoretical basis (i.e., the strength model of self-control) and the empirical research on ego depletion effects (Friese, Loschelder, Gieseler, Frankenbach, & Inzlicht, 2019; Gieseler, Loschelder, & Friese, 2019). Yet another project employed a large-scale simulation study to examine the influence of p-hacking and publication bias on the distortion of meta-analytic effect size estimates (Friese & Frankenbach, in press).