Causal inference in generalizable environments: systematic representative design

Miller, L. C. et al. (2019) Causal inference in generalizable environments: systematic representative design. Psychological Inquiry, 30(4), pp. 173-202. (doi: 10.1080/1047840X.2019.1693866)

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Abstract

Causal inference and generalizability both matter. Historically, systematic designs emphasize causal inference, while representative designs focus on generalizability. Here, we suggest a transformative synthesis – Systematic Representative Design (SRD) – concurrently enhancing both causal inference and “built-in” generalizability by leveraging today’s intelligent agent, virtual environments, and other technologies. In SRD, a “default control group” (DCG) can be created in a virtual environment by representatively sampling from real-world situations. Experimental groups can be built with systematic manipulations onto the DCG base. Applying systematic design features (e.g., random assignment to DCG versus experimental groups) in SRD affords valid causal inferences. After explicating the proposed SRD synthesis, we delineate how the approach concurrently advances generalizability and robustness, cause-effect inference and precision science, a computationally-enabled cumulative psychological science supporting both “bigger theory” and concrete implementations grappling with tough questions (e.g., what is context?) and affording rapidly-scalable interventions for real-world problems.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Research reported in this article was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse under R01DA031626 awarded to Stephen Read (PI), by the National Institute of Mental Health under R01MH082671, awarded to Lynn Miller (PI), and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences under R01GM10996 awarded to Stephen Read and Lynn Miller (PIs).
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Marsella, Professor Stacy
Authors: Miller, L. C., Shaikh, S. J., Jeong, D. C., Wang, L., Gillig, T. K., Godoy, C. G., Appleby, P. R., Corsbie-Massay, C. L., Marsella, S., Christensen, J. L., and Read, S. J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
Journal Name:Psychological Inquiry
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
ISSN:1047-840X
ISSN (Online):1532-7965
Published Online:04 January 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC
First Published:First published in Psychological Inquiry 30(4):173-202
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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