Should we believe in the “belief in the law of small numbers?”
Revisiting the “Belief in the law of small numbers”: Conceptual replication and extensions Registered Report of problems reviewed in Tversky and Kahneman (1971) [Stage 1]
Recommendation: posted 19 June 2023, validated 19 June 2023
Syed, M. (2023) Should we believe in the “belief in the law of small numbers?”. Peer Community in Registered Reports, . https://rr.peercommunityin.org/articles/rec?id=410
Level of bias control achieved: Level 6. No part of the data or evidence that will be used to answer the research question yet exists and no part will be generated until after IPA.
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The recommender in charge of the evaluation of the article and the reviewers declared that they have no conflict of interest (as defined in the code of conduct of PCI) with the authors or with the content of the article.
Evaluation round #2
DOI or URL of the report: https://osf.io/dgzv3
Version of the report: 2
Author's Reply, 18 Jun 2023
Decision by Moin Syed, posted 06 Jun 2023, validated 06 Jun 2023
June 6, 2023
Thank you for submitting your revised Stage 1 manuscript, “Revisiting the “Belief in the law of small numbers”: Conceptual replication and extensions Registered Report of problems reviewed in Tversky and Kahneman (1971),” to PCI RR.
As indicated in the previous decision letter, I reviewed the revised manuscript myself rather than returning it to the reviewers for further comment. I appreciate the careful and thorough approach you took to the revision, and believe that the current version is much improved and will be ready for a recommendation after some minor revisions.
Your study materials are such that they could be tinkered with endlessly to attempt to improve them. What you have crafted, following the helpful reviewer comments, is a solid set of questions that is certain to be informative and to stimulate further work. Thus, I am happy with the question wording and have only suggestions that are mostly cosmetic and aimed at clarifications.
1. I understand your concern about the challenges of having many robustness analyses. However, in this case, it is not “many” but only one (per analysis), namely the removal of outliers. Moreover, I question the use of the analysis only if you fail to find support for your hypothesis, as this ignores the possibility that you found support because of the included outliers. In terms of integrating findings, if you find support in one analysis and lack of support in another, that provides some indication that the finding is “fragile” in some way, either because it is a weak signal or because it is highly dependent on specific conditions. This is a more informative result than a single test without a robustness check. Unless you can offer a strong and convincing argument to the contrary, I suggest you follow the procedure I describe here.
2. Please elaborate on the “law of large numbers” in the Introduction (p. 13). It is introduced in passing at that point, and mentioned again later in the Introduction section, but the clearest statement about its importance for the study comes in the Method section (p. 36) where the potential competing hypothesis is discussed. Given that this appears to be a major motivation for the extension, a clearer and more consolidated treatment in the Introduction is needed.
3. The subsection of the Introduction labeled “Exploratory directions” includes only that it will be updated in Stage 2. This should be removed completely. Although I am personally not super strict about modifications to the Introduction following IPA, some people are, and it is best to not intentionally introduce such into the process. If you know what the exploratory directions might look like and why they are useful, then say so, otherwise leave it be and introduce them as exploratory when doing the analysis.
4. Similarly, the “Exploratory Extensions” subsection of the Method is too vague, with reference to “several dependent variables” being included. Here, given that it is the Method section and you plan to use these variables, you should include additional detail rather than remove them. The “exploratory analyses” section should also give some idea of what you plan to examine.
5. I find it confusing to have the scholar versions included in Table 3, given those versions are not part of the study. Table 3 should only include the original and the lay versions, and the current Table 3 with the scholar versions can be added to supplemental if you think people would be interested in seeing them for future work.
6. The role of the Bayes Factors is not clearly specified. Specifically, how will inferences be made if the Bayesian and NHST results diverge? What is the rationale for using a default Cauchy prior? That BFs are reported by default in the figures is not a sufficient reason to include them, rather they should be fully integrated if they are to be useful.
7. You alternatively refer to the same process as “consent checks” and “attention checks.” I would stick to the former, as those are more descriptive of what they actually are.
8. p. 41 – It states that “eight of the measures are replications” but I believe this should be seven.
9. p. 41 – the first sentence after indicating the alpha threshold of .001 is confusing, referring to “up to six additional dependent variables, sever overall.” I was not clear what that meant.
Once again, I will review the revised version myself. I will attempt to so immediately upon submission, and assuming that you are attentive to the issues outlined above, I imagine I will be able to recommend an in-principle acceptance at that time.
PCI RR Recommender
Evaluation round #1
DOI or URL of the report: https://osf.io/kqpsx
Version of the report: 1
Author's Reply, 28 May 2023
Decision by Moin Syed, posted 26 Apr 2023, validated 27 Apr 2023
April 26, 2023
Thank you for submitting your Stage 1 manuscript, “Revisiting the “Belief in the law of small numbers”: Conceptual replication and extensions Registered Report of problems reviewed in Tversky and Kahneman (1971),” to PCI RR.
The reviewers and I were all in agreement that you are pursuing an important project, but that the Stage 1 manuscript would benefit from some revisions. Accordingly, I am asking that you revise and resubmit your Stage 1 proposal for further evaluation. I do not expect to return the revised version back to the reviewers, but will act on the manuscript myself.
The reviewers provided thoughtful, detailed comments with align with my own read of the proposal, so I urge you to pay close attention to them as you prepare your revision. A few points that require special attention:
1. The reviewers and I all had questions about your treatment of outliers, exclusions, and multiple hypothesis testing. Rather than having results-dependent approaches to these issues, you should treat the decisions as constituting a set of a priori robustness analyses. See reviewer comments for specific issues. I also question your decision to only include data from participants who completed the entire study, as there is an extensive literature on missing data highlighting how listwise deletion can often result in the largest bias.
2. The Introduction section would benefit from some additional text about how you are conceptualizing the replication in relation to the target. That is, you frame the study as a conceptual replication but do not provide many details about why it constitutes such and the implications of the deviations. I know that the direct/conceptual distinction is widely used and accepted, but I tend to favor the Nosek & Errington (2020) perspective that shifts attention from the procedure to the claim, and thus does away with the distinction. After reading over the Tversky and Kahneman paper, they are quite loose with their claims, sometimes constraining them to psychologists/researchers whereas other times the claims see to be applied to all people. If you take the former claim, then yours is a test of generalizability, whereas if you take the latter claims yours is a test of replication. I don’t raise this issue to force you to think about it as I do, but to highlight how and why it would be beneficial to clarify the nature of the replication.
3. You indicate that Q7 was omitted because it was a repeated theme of Q5 and Q6, but you do not actually include what the question was and in what way it was a repeat. Additionally, based on the argument, one might wonder why both Q5 and Q6 are included—if Q7 is a repeat of both, is Q6 not a repeat of Q5? These questions can be briefly addressed by including the question and explaining how the theme is repeated.
When submitting a revision, please provide a cover letter detailing how you have addressed the reviewers’ points.
Thank you for submitting your work to PCI RR, and I look forward to receiving your revised manuscript.
PCI RR Recommender