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Floor van Meer receives news Trial & Error Award

Psychologist Floor van Meer won the first Trial & Error Award for her research on the effect of being distracted while eating on eating behavior. This award from the Journal of Trial & Error (JOTE) honors the often underappreciated aspect of research: learning from errors. For her publication, Van Meer received an artwork created by Isolde Eickmans.

Leiden psychologists Floor van Meer, Lotte van Dillen and Henk van Steenbergen and their colleagues at Ruhr University Bochum found that people who ate chips during driving simulation subsequently ate more chips, as predicted, than people who ate chips during a control condition. The team also encountered some unexpected null results in their research. For example, the effect did not appear to be explained by a difference in perceived taste intensity or stress, something the researchers expected.

Floor van Meer: 'The artwork in my home office reminds me to appreciate moments of "failure" because of the lessons you can learn from them.'

Valuable methodological insights

Challenges like these highlight how difficult it is to study human behavior. For example, the researchers should have taken into account how hungry the participants felt and how much experience they had with driving simulations and games. Studies like this, where results do not match hypotheses, can therefore still provide many valuable methodological insights. Floor van Meer: "The artwork in my home office reminds me to appreciate moments of "failure" by the lessons you can learn from them.

Open and transparent 

Besides, the main hypotheses of the study initially seemed to be confirmed and the article was submitted to a scientific journal other than the Journal of Trial & Error (JOTE). To be open and transparent about the results, the authors also shared all data and analysis scripts with the reviewers. However, one of the reviewers found an error in the analysis script. One of the main effects found in the study changed from "significant" to "just not significant" as a result, and the article was rejected. 'With the re-publication of such studies, colleagues can avoid making the same mistakes', said JOTE co-founder Stefan Gaillard.

Banner photo: Floor van Meer with prize, an initiative of JOTE and the Utrecht Young Academy

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