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Coming-of-age of Process Research: Connecting Theory with Measurement and Modelling

Project description

Connecting theory, measurement and modelling in psychology research

Recent innovations in measurement, combined with novel statistical models, offer a radical new perspective on foundational concepts in psychology. However, optimally employing these new tools is highly challenging: unsuitable methods can result in invalid results, wrong conclusions, wasted resources and useless or even harmful outcomes. The EU-funded OPTIMAL project aims to address this challenge by developing a methodological framework that allows psychological researchers to connect theory, measurement and modelling. To achieve this, it will strengthen the pairwise links between the three, conduct literature inventories in five areas, develop a taxonomy of models and run an interactive website. The work’s generic nature will make it applicable to virtually all psychology fields with a focus on processes.

Objective

Recent innovations in measurement such as ambulatory assessments and experience sampling, have created the unique opportunity to study psychological processes as they unfold over time in everyday life. Combined with novel statistical models that focus on within-person dynamics, these developments offer a radically new perspective on foundational concepts in psychology. In clinical psychology for instance, these innovations are used to study mental disorders as networks of symptoms that trigger each other over time, and this is leading to valuable new insights on the emergence and persistence of psychopathology.

How to optimally employ these new tools is a major methodological challenge, however: Researchers must determine whether to use self-reports or physiological measures, what the frequency and duration of the measures should be, and which model fits their data and allows to test their theory. The costs of choosing inapt measurement and modelling methods can be severe and include: invalid results, erroneous conclusions, poor theory building, wasting resources, diminished trust in psychological science, and outcomes that are less useful or even harmful for individuals and society.

The aim of OPTIMAL is to resolve this challenge by developing an overarching methodological framework of process research that allows psychological researchers to connect theory, measurement and modelling. To achieve this, I will: a) strengthen the pairwise links between theory, measurement and modelling; b) conduct literature inventories in five substantive areas to elicit information on how to measure and model particular processes; and c) develop a taxonomy of models and an interactive website that researchers can use to guide them to optimal models. The generic nature of this methodological framework guarantees that it will be applicable in virtually all substantive fields within psychology that focus on processes, thus impacting psychological science in its full breadth.

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Coordinator

UNIVERSITEIT UTRECHT
Net EU contribution
€ 2 000 000,00
Address
Heidelberglaan 8
3584 CS Utrecht
Netherlands

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Region
West-Nederland Utrecht Utrecht
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (1)