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Bulls#!t Studies Lab




BULLS#!T STUDIES LAB - Greene Hall 122


The BULLS#!T STUDIES LAB in Attitudes, Social Cognition and Bulls#!tting is in the Department of Psychology at Wake Forest University and is directed by Dr. John V. Petrocelli. Our research focuses on factors associated with how people process and interpret social information, as well as how people are influenced by information in their social environment. We explore these general interests in a number of contexts including persuasion, judgment and decision-making.



How to get involved in research as a student:

Students can get involved in many aspects of my research including running experiments, coding and entering data, collaborating on research designs, and helping to formalize presentations and publications. Although some students volunteer, it is possible to earn credit for this work by registering for PSY 280 Directed Study. Undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in collaborating with me on research should contact me early in their academic careers so that they can gain experience over more than one semester. The first semester as a research assistant usually involves helping to run an ongoing experiment. However, as the semester progresses, and in subsequent semesters, students may have the opportunity to develop their own ideas and/or collaborate with me on the design of new studies.


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Frequently asked questions:

What is Social Cognition?

Often regarded as an approach to studying the social world rather than a domain or content area, social cognition is the study of the processes that operate when people encode, store, and retrieve information about the social world. Researchers in social cognition study the procedures, strategies, and problems that people exhibit when they perceive and judge themselves and others. A main theme of social cognition is the biases that may color people’s perceptions and judgments of others. Social cognition is also concerned with the mental shortcuts (or heuristics) that people use to conserve cognitive resources, form judgments, and make decisions. Thus, behavior is often explained by how we use information, what events we pay attention to, how we interpret information, and how we store information in memory. Automatic and controlled processing is also of interest to social cognition. This distinction helps explain the flexibility of the social thinker. The effects of motivation and cognitive load figure prominently on one’s ability to be an accurate social perceiver.


How many students work in the lab?

Typically, 1-2 graduate students and 3-6 undergraduates work as directed study students or as volunteers.


What basic tasks are involved?

Lab tasks include formalizing Institutional Review Board (IRB) applications for new studies, development of experimental protocols and stimuli (using in MediaLab, Inquisit, or HTML), data collection with participation pool students, operating SONA (e.g., assigning credit to participation pool students), data entry (a rare task), and writing up the Methods section of a research report.

What are the basic time requirements for lab assistants?

Lab assistants typically work in the lab about 5 hours each week (see the current lab assistant schedule below). Additional time is often spent outside of the lab in individual meetings to discuss the progress of a project or to conduct library work.

What type of experimental software would I learn?

We typically use MediaLab, but wealso use Inquisit for studies that require reaction time measures.

Would I be involved in any ongoing projects or new studies?

In any one semester, we usually have about 3-6 research projects being conducted; all typically at different stages. All students working in the lab are assigned to work on a project that we both agree is suitable given student interests and lab needs. Individual projects will enable the lab to be productive even when data are not being collected. It is hoped that our work together results in publishable contribution (but this is never a guarantee).

What specific types of projects are going on in the lab currently?

Currently, graduate students and lab assistants are conducting studies on various topics, which include: counterfactual thinking and mental simulation, attitude change and resistance to persuasion, attitudinal ambivalence, forced agreement scaling, and the anchoring and adjustment heuristic.

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