Psychological science has rightly become worried about questionable practices in experimental research, with a range of recent suggestions being made about remedies for this “replication crisis”. To avoid similar problems in psychological-process modelling, Lee et al. (in review) propose ingenious adaptions of these remedies along with insightful new suggestions. Although in the main applauding of these developments, I question whether some of the lessons drawn from the replication crisis are applicable, particularly with respect to the confirmatory vs. exploratory dichotomy given the intrinsically explanatory nature of most psychological-process models.
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I acknowledge borrowing in my commentary from the style and substance of Alan Newell’s wonderful “You cannot play 20 questions with nature and win”. I dedicate this commentary to the memory of Doug Mewhort, who brought Newell’s commentary to my attention, and whose work and teaching inspired in me a life-long interest in psychological modelling. Doug leavened this interest with a dollop of caution borne of another idea he made me aware of, that participants should not be viewed as always the same, but instead as deploying highly flexible virtual machines that adapt to different tasks. Thanks also to Dora Matzke for discussions related to this commentary.
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Heathcote, A. What Do the Rules for the Wrong Game Tell us About How to Play the Right Game?. Comput Brain Behav 2, 187–189 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42113-019-00061-y