The ethics and effectiveness of experimental debriefing

Dana Leighton, Ph.D., reviews a recent article in the Journal of Social and Personality Psychology on the effectiveness of standard debriefing on the ego threats that participants in a psychology experiment might feel. I’ve only skimmed Dr. Leighton’s review and the article itself but they raise important questions about the capacity of debriefing to ameliorate negative effects of experimental manipulation, which may persist for quite some time.

Miketta, S., & Friese, M. (2019, April 8). Debriefed but still troubled? About the (In)Effectiveness of Postexperimental debriefings after ego threat. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Advance online publication.

Debate on the types of evidence relevant for policymaking

Two articles here that were highlighted in a post from the National Prevention Science Coalition

Interesting article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review discussing "what counts" as evidence for evidence-based policy making.

Defining Evidence Down

With evidence-based policy, we need to acknowledge that some evidence is more valid than others. Pretending all evidence is equal will only preserve the status quo.


By Patrick Lester Jul. 14, 2016
Each year governments spend billions of dollars on programs addressing poverty, education, health, and other social issues. Unfortunately, only a small fraction of these funds are being spent on programs with strong evidence that they work.
Evidence-based policy—sometimes called "Moneyball for Government"—is a small, but growing, effort to change this. But, just as it is getting started, is it on the verge of a major shift? Yes, according to a group of contrarian thinkers who believe that the dominant evidence paradigm in US social policy is too narrowly focused on replicating programs evaluated with randomized controlled trials.

Persistent misunderstandings about evidence-based (sorry: informed!) policy-making
Pierre-Olivier BédardEmail author and Mathieu Ouimet
Archives of Public HealthThe official journal of the Belgian Public Health Association201674:31
DOI: 10.1186/s13690-016-0142-z©  The Author(s) 2016
Received: 5 February 2016Accepted: 19 May 2016Published: 20 July 2016



The Science of Using Science: Researching the Use of Research Evidence in Decision-Making

Haven't read this report yet but looks interesting.

(excerpt below)


Research evidence is just one factor that can influence decision-making at a policy and practice level. While various interventions have been developed to enhance and support the use of research evidence by decision-makers, it is unclear which interventions are effective. This research project set out to review the efficacy of interventions applied to increase decision-makers’ use of research in various decision arenas. The project also examined whether there is additional knowledge in the broader social science literature that is relevant to evidence-informed decision-making (EIDM) and could be applied to help support future interventions in this area. 

New Master's program at UC Irvine




The goal of this degree program is to prepare practitioners for career advancement in legal and related fields, thus the program seeks applicants from a wide variety of educational backgrounds and work experiences. Individuals who meet the following requirements are encouraged to apply:

  • Demonstrated passion for learning and helping to solve social problems
  • Interest in multi-disciplinary studies
  • Self-motivated and able to work collaboratively with others
  • Completed Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • Can provide transcripts that show a minimum grade point average of 3.0
  • Experience in a related field is encouraged, but not required

Admissions for the Fall 2016 Cohort will be provided on a rolling basis beginning February 15, 2015. Learn how you can apply!

Please contact our office at with any questions.

Modest Means to Significant Support

As a person who grew up in a middle-class household in suburban Virginia, I continue to be amazed at some of the advantages that our wealthiest Georgetown undergraduates experience as normal.  Washington, D.C., is an expensive place to live for professionals, much less students who don't have much financial support from family.  This GU program, with a former student Christine Pfiel as associate director, provides more than just monetary support.  It recognizes there is a cultural background of wealth that can be difficult to navigate.  In my Introduction to Community Psychology class we talk about stereotypes and prejudices.  Race and gender discussions are important, but raising socioeconomic status consistently draws some of the most animated discussion. Some students report feeling like they have to "hide" their backgrounds or "out" themselves as someone who violates the assumptions of privilege that many students share.  

Georgetown U. Builds a Student-Support System to Substitute for Privilege


FBI to record interrogations starting July 11, 2014

For a variety of reasons a number of state and local law enforcement agencies have recorded custodial interrogations for some time. My former graduate student, Hayley Cleary ( now on the faculty of the Wilder School of Public Policy at Virginia Commonwealth University) completed her dissertation examining recorded interrogations of juvenile suspects from a number of jurisdictions across the country. Attorney General Holder has announced the FBI will also record interrogations in most circumstances. This should provide important protections for defendants as well as for law enforcement officials. It also potentially provides a tremendous research opportunity to crack open the black box of custodial interrogation and learn more about the interactions between law enforcement and suspects, including juvenile suspects. It's important to note that this applies to custodial interrogation, not all police questioning. So, we won't be able to capture anything that happens before arrest or when an arrest is not relevant, but this is an important step in the right direction.

Capital City Correction

This morning I attended a briefing put on by D.C. Lawyers for Youth and the Campaign for Youth Justice on the incarceration of youth in the D.C. jail. The report provides a sobering reminder of the effects that adult facilities can have on youthful offenders. It also highlights the great work these two organizations are spearheading on behalf of youth who are often dismissed or denigrated. Privileged to collaborate with advocates who put research to good use in the service of others. Read the report if you haven't already done so.


Society for Community Research and Action supports our work with D.C. Parents

I'm delighted to report that our project on "Parent Perspectives on D.C. Schools" has been awarded support by the Society for Community Research and Action (Division 27 of the American Psychological Association). Their Mini-Grant program will enable me to partner with the Senior High Alliance of Parents, Principals, and Educators and the 21st Century School Fund to conduct several focus groups with parents in Ward 4 of the District of Columbia about upcoming school boundary changes. Check the Current Research Projects page for a summary of the proposal.