Tracing Strack, the preamble

I’ve started a second trace! A bit to pursue proof of concept, get a feel for extendability. A trace is, after all, a bit like a case study. I’ve selected the Strack, Martin and Stepper (1988). Better known as the one where participants get to hold a pen in their mouths to get their face shaped like a smile or a frown, without them really realizing this is happening. This is also a paper that is under PoPS registered replication. I was going to participate as one of the independent labs, but work hit me and my team (I became director of our international Masters), and I just had to give up. (Still feel a bit sad about that).

It is, to cite Jens Förster (citation # 102 in my trace) a Classic. * It is so generally well known that in the instruction for the registered replication we were asked to make sure that the population we tapped were not aware of the effect – that is, get the psych undergrads before the Emotion module, or tap other undergrads (we were planning on using the film/linguistics/humanities set). The paper has a reputation! Of course we want to replicate it.

I pulled the data for the trace on the 29th of April, 2016, and at that time, the paper had been cited 544 times (all social science citation index). Not as many as Srull & Wyer (1979) that I pulled a year before, but this was published a decade after. Not shabby.

I also decided to be more ambitious with the trace this time. Instead of the 5 first year (53 article), I decided to trace the first 150 articles. (I am going solo so far, and I am going the artisanal way. No automatic scraping of info here!)** First citation is in 1989, the last in 2006 so we are spanning over a decade and a half. I figure that might also be enough to find  possible citation distortions (I have). This actually includes a paper where I’m co-author. We used the Pen in the Mouth technique, but it didn’t seem to work as enhancement, but more as a mimicry-disruptor. (Niedenthal  et al 2001), which still is some kind of effect on Facial Feedback that is interesting.

I realized early on that the trace here had a different nature from the Srull & Wyer trace. The Srull & Wyer paper were very much an origin paper for subsequent work on Social Priming***, whereas the Strack et al is a relatively recent paper in the tradition of facial and bodily feedback, which can reasonably be traced back to the James-Lange theory of emotion, was under ongoing investigated by the Ekman Deme**** and the Zajonc Deme, and in many ways was an ingenious technical solution to the pesky demand objection that came from asking people to pose their faces in emotional configurations.

Classifying the papers (based on the abstracts) also was different. For the Srull & Wyer trace I classified papers as either extending related or oblique. My intention was to particularly pay attention to those papers that extended the priming idea, whereas for other papers I would only look closer at the citation patterns. This was not so evident for the Strack Paper. Yes, there were clear obliques (Emotions and God, Education, Robots – although that turned out to actually fit within extension), but it was far less obvious which papers extended the work and which were related but not extending. This is quite possibly because the Strack Paper isn’t an origin paper for a particular area of research, but a paper that is mid-stream in ongoing research on bodily feedback on affective processes. Even if I did a rough sorting, I then went in and made a somewhat more fine-grained classification of the topics. The majority involve research on facial feedback (39), but there are also papers on Arm Flexion (17), emotional expression (7), Embodiment (7), Emotion regulation (6), mix of other types of bodily feedback including head nodding (11) and effects of induced mood or emotional states (25) which all seem to be somewhat relevant and could potentially be extending.

So far, I have pulled citations from all the papers I could find without having to go too far out of my way. (I have a handful from papers like Cognition and Emotion and Cortex which evidently I have to request prints rather than download PDF’s, and there are also a few non-english papers that I can’t get to – I included a bit more than just peer reviewed papers in this trace).

That is 128 papers. One thing I noticed when doing my Srull & Wyer (1979) trace was that in papers that extended their work, they tended to be cited multiple times  (both for the theoretical and empirical background as well as for methods and in the discussion). In the related and oblique papers they tended to be cited maybe one or two times.  This is the citation patterns so far for Strack et al.

Times cited in paper Frequency
1 90
2 15
3 12
4 7
5 0
6 1
7 1
8 0
9 1
10 0
11 0
12 0
13 0
14 0
15 1


As I actually go and pull the citations manually (with the help of the search function, when that works), I do get a quick feel for what is going on. The paper is highly cited, because this is an important addition in the ongoing work on bodily feedback, as it rules out demand. But, direct extensions of the technique are not that common. (The one with 15 cites most definitely did a replication).

In the trace, I’m most of all interested in the direct extension of the source work (it doesn’t have to be like that. Lots of questions can be asked of a trace), so what I’m directly scrutinizing may be rather small in the end. But, I’m starting to look closer at the various experiments on bodily feedback to see what that can yield.

Some refs

Förster, J (2004) How body feedback influences consumers’ evaluation of products. JOURNAL OF CONSUMER PSYCHOLOGY.

Hull, Davis (1988). Science as a process.

Niedenthal, PM; Brauer, M; Halberstadt, JB; Innes-Ker, AH (2001). When did her smile drop? Facial mimicry and the influences of emotional state on the detection of change in emotional expression. Cognition and Emotion.

Strack, F, Martin, L, & Stepper, S. (1988) Inhibiting and facilitationg conditions of the human smile: A nonobtrusive test of the facial feedback hypothesis. Journal of personality and Social Psychology, 54, 768-777.



*Förster collaborated with Strack quite a bit on similar questions, so I think he spoke about it from inside this particular Deme.

** because I haven’t spent time to figure out how to.

*** Yes, I know people object to this, because there are so many different variants that this doesn’t capture what it is about. But, it is useful to distinguish it from the type of priming that seem just focused on associative networks – like the doctor-nurse, apple-orange thing, which is quite robust.

**** A deme is, in biology, a local breeding population. I also found out (looking for definition) that it is an old greek word for a village or district (distinct from Polis). I got it from Hull (1988)  (who most likely got it from  biology. In his meaning a scientific Deme is a group of scientists that work more or less cooperatively on a particular idea in science (the cooperation doesn’t need to be uncontentious).

*****Simine Vazires penchant for asterisks are spreading. A bit of cultural evolution (the social copying kind).

About asehelene

... because if I'm in a room with a second person, I want to be reasonably sure I'm the crazier one.
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