[from Jeff Vancouver 960613.12:50 EST]
I too read Peter Burke's American Sociological Review paper with
considerable interest and delight. Like Kent McClelland's from 94, it
seems to indicate at least an openness to the model in sociology. And the
comparative data is great.
Of course the academic in me has to react in a more tempered and
judicious manner. Specifically, if I was given the charge of being a
reviewer for ASR (which will never likely happen), I would have too major
First, I would be impressed by the implications of changes to
participation reference values and how that _reversed_, at least in one
case, the power distribution of the participants (as measured by
points). However, I would be cautious in interpreting these result _as
if_ this is the way actual participants behaved given that the condition
simulated was not the situation in the experiment. I would suggest that
the authors suggest that a next step is trying to create this reference
value in the participants to verify that the simulation matches reality.
It would be a powerful confirmation of the utility of your model over the
others. Of course, as a good PCTer, I would simpathize with the
potential problem of influencing this reference value in participants.
Of course, you may already be working on this. It is exactly the kind of
research that us psychologist attempt all the time - despite Rick's
notions to the contrary. In other words, if you wanted some thoughts on
it, I have some and would be glad to discuss them.
The second criticism is like the first in that I would only suggest that
the authors acknowledge it in the discussion section. it may be that the
developers of the paradigm have already addressed the issue ad nausium
[sp]. That is, what is the ecological validity of the paradigm? That
your participants act as they do in the artificially constrained confinds
of a lab does not guarantee that they would ever act that way in real
life. This is a common theme in reviewers' comments to lab studies in my
field (organizational behavior). I have made them often when I review.
But for some the ecological validity argument is an excuse for ignoring
anything not done in the field. I do not feel that way at all.
Nonetheless, it is an important issue that I expect researchers to at
least give a node to (perhaps citing how Markovsky or whoever has
addressed it). Alternatively suggesting that we need to go to real
organizations (e.g., Microsoft) and see how different configurations
(e.g., software design teams) play out in the long run. This is what we
I/O psychologists and OB researchers do all the time.
Ironically, I see these two issues as possibly connected. That is, it
seems to me that one way to manipulation the participation reference
signal is to have competing (substitutable?) parties in which any
participant can engage. E.g., you could say to a participant, "you may
engage in this 'game' or that one or both," thus dividing participation as
a reference for more than one exchange game. This dividing and
substitution seems to me a real aspect of the real world, such that in the
real world, one might expect to see the kind of interesting reverse effect
Just some thoughts,
Jeffrey B. Vancouver
Assistant Professor Phone: (212)998-7816
Department of Psychology Fax: (212)995-4018
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