Virtual experiments in megastudies: A case study of language and emotion
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A recent dramatic increase in the number and scope of chronometric and norming lexical megastudies offers the ability to conduct virtual experiments-that is, to draw samples of items with properties that vary in critical linguistic dimensions. This paper introduces a bootstrapping approach, which enables testing of research hypotheses against a range of samples selected in a uniform, principled manner and evaluates how likely a theoretically motivated pattern is in a broad distribution of possible outcome patterns. We apply this approach to conflicting theoretical and empirical accounts of the relationship between the psychological valence (positivity) of a word and its speed of recognition. To this end, we conduct three sets of multiple virtual experiments with a factorial and a regression design, drawing data from two lexical decision megastudies. We discuss the influence that criteria for stimuli selection, statistical power, collinearity, and the choice of dataset have on the efficacy and outcomes of the bootstrapping procedure.
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