Thoughts on psychology research

All of the reading that I've done recently on the psychology of information security reminds my of why we probably shouldn't take lots of psychology research too seriously. Lots of psychology experiments are done on undergraduate students and professors seem to ensure a steady stream of subjects by making participation in a few experiments mandatory for their Psychology 101 students. But some of these students probably aren't taking the experiments as seriously as they could be.

When I was in college I remember stopping by my fraternity house one day on the way to my first class when I was surprised to see a group of fraternity brothers doing something that's just been downgraded to an "infraction" in California, but was a misdemeanor until very recently. When I asked then what they were doing they explained that the tradition for Psychology 101 students was to get stoned out of their minds before they took part in the experiments that were required for their class.

So it might be the case that some of the psychology research that we read about might be based on data that might have a few unexpected biases built into it.

In any event, I'm now extremely wary of results that psychology papers claim, particularly if there's any chance that the subjects for the experiment could have been stoned 19-year-old kids.

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