The psychology of experimental psychologists: Overcoming cognitive constraints to improve research: The 47th Sir Frederic Bartlett Lecture.
Like many other areas of science, experimental psychology is affected by a "replication crisis" that is causing concern in many fields of research. Approaches to tackling this crisis include better training in statistical methods, greater transparency and openness, and changes to the incentives created by funding agencies, journals, and institutions. Here, I argue that if proposed solutions are to be effective, we also need to take into account human cognitive constraints that can distort all stages of the research process, including design and execution of experiments, analysis of data, and writing up findings for publication. I focus specifically on cognitive schemata in perception and memory, confirmation bias, systematic misunderstanding of statistics, and asymmetry in moral judgements of errors of commission and omission. Finally, I consider methods that may help mitigate the effect of cognitive constraints: better training, including use of simulations to overcome statistical misunderstanding; specific programmes directed at inoculating against cognitive biases; adoption of Registered Reports to encourage more critical reflection in planning studies; and using methods such as triangulation and "pre mortem" evaluation of study design to foster a culture of dialogue and criticism.