Cautionary Tales from Research on Listening Effort
Two labs set out to test the same research question. They review the literature, select the tasks and study designs they think are appropriate, and run the studies. Despite following best practices at every stage of the research process, they reach opposing conclusions. How can we reconcile these results? Although findings can conflict for many reasons, one factor that is often overlooked in cognitive psychology is inconsistency in measurement. Indeed, researchers operationalize constructs that cannot be directly measured (e.g., musical aptitude, inhibition, working memory) in many different ways. Measurement inconsistency may lead to what has been referred to as the jingle fallacy—falsely assuming two tasks or scales measure the same underlying construct because they have the same name—or the jangle fallacy—falsely assuming two tasks or scales measure different constructs because they have different names. In this talk, Strand describes how measurement inconsistency has clouded the literature on listening effort—the deliberate allocation of mental resources to overcome obstacles in goal pursuit when carrying out a [listening] task (Pichora-Fuller et al. 2016). Multiple commonly-used listening effort tasks that are assumed to measure the same underlying construct are in fact only very weakly related to one another (demonstrating “jingle”). In addition, measures that are intended to quantify listening effort may instead be tapping into domain-general cognitive abilities like working memory (demonstrating “jangle”). Strand will also offer suggestions for researchers studying other constructs about how to avoid jingle and jangle in their own work.
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