Previous Projects

Students at The College of New Jersey collaborated on post-2009 data projects below.  Student authors are underlined.

Category Learning

Grimm, L.R., & Maddox, W.T. (2013). Differential impact of relevant and irrelevant dimension linguistic primes on rule-based and information-integration category learning. Acta Psychologia, 144, 530-537.

Research has identified multiple category-learning systems with each being “tuned” for learning categories with different task demands and each governed by different neurobiological systems. Rule-based (RB) classification involves testing verbalizable rules for category membership while information-integration (II) classification requires the implicit learning of stimulus–response mappings. In the first study to directly test rule priming with RB and II category learning, we investigated the influence of the availability of information presented at the beginning of the task. Participants viewed lines that varied in length, orientation, and position on the screen, and were primed to focus on stimulus dimensions that were relevant or irrelevant to the correct classification rule. In Experiment 1, we used an RB category structure, and in Experiment 2, we used an II category structure. Accuracy and model-based analyses suggested that a focus on relevant dimensions improves RB task performance later in learning while a focus on an irrelevant dimension improves II task performance early in learning.

Knowledge Representation

Hoang, B., and Grimm, L.R. (2022). The impacts of bilingualism and the spacing effect on German vocabulary learning.  Poster presented by the first author at the Annual Meeting of the New England Psychological Association, Worcester, MA.

Lennon, K., Grimm, L.R., Cohn, D., Hoang, B, Lopez, E., Albert E., Estevez, J., & Locassio, N. (2022). Impact of goal orientations on lag effects for German acquisition and retention.  Poster presented at Annual Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, New York, New York.

Grimm, L.R., Baskaron, S., Cherry, R., Cohn, D., Hoang, B., Holmes, C. & Lennon K. (2021). The impact of goal orientations on German language acquisition.  Poster presented at Annual Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Virtual Presentation due to Covid-19.

Grimm, L.R., & Lennon K. (2020). The impact of goal orientations on lag effects for German language acquisition.  Poster presented at the Annual Meeting of the New England Psychological Association, Virtual Presentation due to Covid-19.

Grimm, L.R. (2014).  The Psychology of Knowledge Representation. WIREs: Cognitive Science , 5: 261-270.

Every cognitive enterprise involves some form of knowledge representation. Humans represent information about the external world and internal mental states, like beliefs and desires, and use this information to meet goals (e.g., classification or problem solving). Unfortunately, researchers do not have direct access to mental representations. Instead, cognitive scientists design experiments and implement computational models to develop theories about the mental representations present during task performance. There are several main types of mental representation and corresponding processes that have been posited: spatial, feature, network, and structured. Each type has a particular structure and a set of processes that are capable of accessing and manipulating information within the representation. The structure and processes determine what information can be used during task performance and what information has not been represented at all. As such, the different types of representation are likely used to solve different kinds of tasks. For example, structured representations are more complex and computationally demanding, but are good at representing relational information. Researchers interested in human psychology would benefit from considering how knowledge is represented in their domain of inquiry.

Grimm, L.R., Rein, J.R., & Markman, A.B. (2012).  Determining transformation distance in similarity:  Considerations for assessing representational changes a priori.  Thinking & Reasoning, 18, 59-80.

The representational distortion (RD) approach to similarity (e.g., Hahn, Chater, & Richardson, 2003) proposes that similarity is computed using the transformation distance between two entities. We argue that researchers who adopt this approach need to be concerned with how representational transformations can be determined a priori. We discuss several roadblocks to using this approach. Specifically we demonstrate the difficulties inherent in determining what transformations are psychologically salient and the importance of considering the directionality of transformations.

Markman, A. B., Beer, J. S., Grimm, L. R., Rein, J. R., & Maddox, W. T. (2009).  The optimal level of fuzz: Case studies in a methodology for psychology research. Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence, 21, 197-215.

Cognitive science research is hard to conduct, because researchers must take phenomena from the world and turn them into laboratory tasks for which a reasonable level of experimental control can be achieved. Consequently, research necessarily makes tradeoffs between internal validity (experimental control) and external validity (the degree to which a task represents behaviour outside of the lab). Researchers are thus seeking the best possible trade-off between these constraints, which we refer to as the optimal level of fuzz. We present two principles for finding the optimal level of fuzz, in research, and then illustrate these principles using research from motivation, individual differences and cognitive neuroscience.

Problem Solving and Decision Making

Gallagher, D., & Grimm, L. R. (2018). Making an Impact: The Effects of Game Making on Creativity and Spatial Processing.  Thinking Skills and Creativity, 28, 138-149.

For decades, researchers have tried to understand how to guide students to both pursue and excel in a career in the fields science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Recently, creativity has been recognized as being important in STEM-based fields and some researchers have even suggested a shift from STEM to STEAM to account for the artistic side of science (Boy, 2013; Henriksen, 2014). Creative capacities augment scientific endeavors given the role these capacities play in problem-solving and innovation. Our work focuses on identifying a method to improve both creativity and spatial abilities, as spatial ability predicts the likelihood to succeed in a STEM field (Wai et al., 2009). Some scientists found that making computer games provides students with an introduction to computer science and technology through an engaging, self-driven platform. While this technique has been successful in sparking interest in STEM careers (Javidi & Sheybani, 2010; Robertson & Howells, 2008), little research has been conducted on how it impacts STEM success. We examined if game-making could lead to cognitive improvement in creativity and spatial abilities in addition to its attitudinal effects. Using a longitudinal, pretest/post-test design, we found that making levels in Portal 2 improved creative and spatial abilities over a control. Participants who made levels also reported being more interested and confident in a variety of STEM-related activities. We conclude that game-making can be used as an engaging way to not only encourage students to pursue, but prepare them to succeed in STEM careers.

Grimm, L. R., Gallagher, D., Parwatkar, K., Donini, O., Spicer, K, Steiner, E & Acero, S. (2018). Making an Impact: The Effects of Game Making on Cognition.  Poster presented at the 89th Annual Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Philadelphia, PA.

Grimm, L.R., Braham, E., & Pagan, L. (2012).  The Draw-A-Scientist Test: Measures base rates beyond bias.  Poster presented at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society, Minneapolis, MN.

Gibson, J. M., Dhuse, S., Hrachovec, L., & Grimm, L. R. (2011).  Priming insight in groups: Facilitating and inhibiting solving an ambiguously-worded insight problem. Memory and Cognition, 39, 128-146.

We extend research on the priming of insight by studying group problem solving. Groups of 2–4 participants tried to solve an ambiguously worded problem in the presence of a prime that reinforced the dominant but incorrect interpretation of the problem, a prime that reinforced the uncommon but correct interpretation, or no prime. The paradigm involved participants asking questions of the experimenter that could only be answered “yes” or “no.” In Experiment 1, the prime was present throughout the solving period; in Experiment 2, it was removed prior to the solving period. In both experiments, the primes had their predicted effects. Patterns in the time taken to solve the problem supported the idea that groups stuck at the impasse were more or less able to restructure the problem, depending on the environmental context. Data from the questions asked and questionnaires converged with time taken to solve the problem, consistent with the view that restructuring a problem is an automatic process that produces insight. A comparison of the group data in Experiment 1 with individually tested participants’ data revealed that the insight of the groups benefited from their being able to recognize lines of questions to follow, to listen to answers to questions asked, and to evaluate and reject errors or assumptions.

Individual Differences

Grimm, L. R., Christensen, D., Spicer, K., Gervasi, A., Morella, L., Bhavsar, K., Halsey, E., Lennon, K, &  Roemer, E. (2019). Stability of ability and effort beliefs:  The impact of mindsets on computer programming.  Poster presented at the 90th Annual Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, New York, New York.

Grimm, L.R., Largey, E., Gallagher, D., Parwatkar, K., & Donini, O. (2017). Motivated to explore: Website search behavior induced by regulatory focus. Poster presented at the International Convention of Psychological Science, Vienna, Austria.

Grimm, L.R., & Spanola, N. (2016). Influence of need for cognition and cognitive closure on magic perceptions.  Poster presented at the 38th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, Philadelphia, PA.

Grimm, L.R., Spanola, N., Edelblum, A., Dickler, R., Bruett, H., Gallagher, D., Largey, E., Weiss, T., Sabella, C., & Nagasue, A. (2016). The role of cognitive individual differences in the experience of magic. Poster presented at the 87th Annual Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Philadelphia, PA.

Grimm, L. R., & Hughes, J. M. (2010).  The complex role of motivation in stereotyping and stereotype threat effects.  In E.L. Simon (Ed.) Psychology of Stereotypes.  (pp. 229-242). Hauppauge, New York:  Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

Markman, A. B., Grimm, L. R., & Kim, K. (2009). Culture as a vehicle for studying individual differences.  In R. S. Wyer, C. Y. Chiu, & Y. Y. Hong (Eds.) Understanding Culture: Theory, Research, and Application. (pp. 93-106).  Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press.

……and Causal Inference

Goedert, K. M., Grimm, L. R., Markman, A. B., & Spellman, B. A. (2014).  Priming interdependence affects processing of context information in causal inference—But not how you might think. Acta Psychologica, 146, 41-50.

Cultural mindset is related to performance on a variety of cognitive tasks. In particular, studies of both chronic and situationally-primed mindsets show that individuals with a relatively interdependent mindset (i.e., an emphasis on relationships and connections among individuals) are more sensitive to background contextual information than individuals with a more independent mindset. Two experiments tested whether priming cultural mindset would affect sensitivity to background causes in a contingency learning and causal inference task. Participants were primed (either independent or interdependent), and then saw complete contingency information on each of 12 trials for two cover stories in Experiment 1 (hiking causing skin rashes, severed brakes causing wrecked cars) and two additional cover stories in Experiment 2 (school deadlines causing stress, fertilizers causing plant growth). We expected that relative to independent-primed participants, those interdependent-primed would give more weight to the explicitly-presented data indicative of hidden alternative background causes, but they did not do so. In Experiment 1, interdependents gave less weight to the data indicative of hidden background causes for the car accident cover story and showed a decreased sensitivity to the contingencies for that story. In Experiment 2, interdependents placed less weight on the observable data for cover stories that supported more extra-experimental causes, while independents’ sensitivity did not vary with these extra-experimental causes. Thus, interdependents were more sensitive to background causes not explicitly presented in the experiment, but this sensitivity hurt rather than improved their acquisition of the explicitly presented contingency information.

Goedert, K. M., Grimm, L. R., Markman, A. B., & Spellman, B. A. (2011).  Having an interdependent self-construal leads to greater weighting of causal data in causal judgment.  Poster presented at the 33rd Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, Boston, MA.

Kim, K., Grimm, L. R., & Markman, A. B. (2007).  Self-construal and the processing of covariation information in causal reasoning.  Memory & Cognition, 35, 1337-1343.

Causal induction provides a nice test domain for examining the influence of individual-difference factors on cognition. The phenomena of both conditionalization and discounting reflect attention to multiple potential causes when people infer what caused an effect. We explored the hypothesis that individuals with an independent self-construal are relatively less sensitive to context (other causes) than are individuals with an interdependent self-construal in this domain. We found greater levels of conditionalization and data consistent with discounting for participants in whom we primed an interdependent self-construal than for participants in whom we primed an independent self-construal.

……and Classification Learning and Standardized Testing

Grimm, L.R., Kay, S., Jorgensen, A., Cassera, J., Gonzalez Silva, D., Lunenfeld, A. & Luongo, K. (2014). Performing a working memory task prior to GRE eliminates stereotype fit effects. Poster presented at the 85th Annual Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Boston, MA.

Grimm, L.R., Jorgensen, A., Kay, S., & Kurzum, C. (2013).  Stereotype fit effects in verbal standardized test performance.  Poster presented at the 84th Annual Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, NYC, NY.

Grimm, L.R., Braham, E., Lewis, B., Haughee, E., & Martin, K. (2012).  Social identity magnifies regulatory fit effects in standardized test performance.  Poster presented at the 83rd Annual Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Pittsburg, PA

Grimm, L. R., Markman, A. B., & Maddox, W. T. (2012).  End-of-semester syndrome: How situational regulatory fit affects test performance over an academic semester. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 34, 376-385.

Psychology researchers often avoid running participants from subject pools at the end of the semester because they are ‘‘unmotivated.’’ We suggest that the end of the semester induces a situational prevention focus (i.e., sensitive to losses) unlike the beginning of the semester, which may induce a situational promotion focus (i.e., sensitive to gains). In two experiments, we presented participants with math problems at the beginning or end of an academic semester. End-of-semester participants performed better minimizing losses as compared to maximizing gains, whereas the opposite was true for beginningof-semester participants.

Grimm, L.R., Barral, D., Pagan, L., Haughee, E., Lewis, B., & Albert, J. (2011).  Stereotype fit effects in information-integration classification learning.  Poster presented at the 82nd Annual Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Cambridge, MA.

Grimm, L. R., Markman, A. B., Maddox, W. T., & Baldwin, G. C. (2009).  Stereotype threat reinterpreted as a regulatory mismatch.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96, 288-304.

This research documents performance decrements resulting from the activation of a negative taskrelevant stereotype. The authors combine a number of strands of work to identify causes of stereotype threat in a way that allows them to reverse the effects and improve the performance of individuals with negative task-relevant stereotypes. The authors draw on prior work suggesting that negative stereotypes induce a prevention focus and on other research suggesting that people exhibit greater flexibility when their regulatory focus matches the reward structure of the task. This work suggests that stereotype threat effects emerge from a prevention focus combined with tasks that have an explicit or implicit gains reward structure. The authors find flexible performance can be induced in individuals who have a negative task-relevant stereotype by use of a losses reward structure. The authors demonstrate the interaction of stereotypes and the reward structure of the task with chronic stereotypes and Graduate Record Examination math problems (Experiment 1), and with primed stereotypes and a category learning task (Experiments 2A and 2B). The authors discuss implications of this research for other work on stereotype threat.

Grimm, L. R., Markman, A. B., Maddox, W. T., & Baldwin, G. C. (2008).  Differential effects of regulatory fit on classification learning.  Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 920-927.

Motivation affects the degree to which people engage in tasks as well as the processes that they bring to bear. We explore the proposal that a fit between a person’s situationally induced self-regulatory focus and the reward structure of the task that they are pursuing supports greater flexibility in processing than does a mismatch between regulatory focus and reward structure. In two experiments, we prime regulatory focus and manipulate task reward structure. Our participants perform a rule-based learning task whose solution requires flexible strategy testing as well as an information-integration task for which flexible strategy use hinders learning. Across two experiments, we predict and obtain a three-way interaction between regulatory focus, reward structure, and task. Relative to a mismatch, a match leads to better rule-based task performance, but worse performance on the information-integration task. We relate these findings to other work on motivation and choking under pressure.

Grimm, L. R., Markman, A. B., & Maddox, W. T. (2009).  Minimizing losses improves end of semester GRE performance.  Poster presented at the 9th Annual Meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Tampa, FL

……and Sport & Exercise

Kay, S. A. & Grimm, L. R. (2017). Regulatory Fit Improves Fitness for People with Low Exercise Experience. Journal of Psychology of Sport & Exercise, 39, 109-119.

Considering only 20.8% of American adults meet current physical activity recommendations, it is important to examine the psychological processes that affect exercise motivation and behavior. Drawing from regulatory fit theory, this study examined how manipulating regulatory focus and reward structures would affect exercise performance with a specific interest in investigating whether exercise experience would moderate regulatory fit effects. We predicted regulatory fit effects would appear only for participants with low exercise experience. One hundred and sixty-five young adults completed strength training exercise tasks (i.e., sit-ups, squats, plank, and wall-sit) in regulatory match or mismatch conditions. Consistent with predictions, only participants low in experience in regulatory match conditions exercised more compared to those in regulatory mismatch conditions. Although this is the first study manipulating regulatory fit in a controlled setting to examine exercise behavior, findings suggest that generating regulatory fit could positively influence those low in exercise experience.

Grimm, L. R., Lewis, B., Maddox, W. T., & Markman, A. B. (2016). Stereotype fit effects for golf putting non-experts. Sport, Exercise, & Performance Psychology, 5(1), 39-51.

Research has connected stereotype threat and regulatory fit by showing improved performance for individuals with negative stereotypes when they focused on minimizing potential losses. In the current study, non-Black participants, who were nonexperts at golf putting, were told that a golf putting task was diagnostic of natural athletic ability (i.e., negative stereotype) or sports intelligence (i.e., positive stereotype). Participants tried to maximize earned points or minimize lost points assigned after every
putt, which was calculated based on the distance to a target. Results showed better performance for participants experiencing a fit between their global task stereotype and the task goal, and that regulatory fit allowed for increased attention on the strategies beneficial for task performance. Interestingly, we found that performance of individuals high in working memory capacity suffered greatly when those individuals experienced
a regulatory mismatch.

Grimm, L.R., Kay, S., Cassera, J., & Largey, E. (2015). Effect of Regulatory Fit and Expertise on Fitness Outcomes. Poster presented at the 86th Annual Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Philadelphia, PA.

Grimm, L. R., Maddox, W. T., & Markman, A. B. (2010). Regulatory fit from stereotypes is advantageous for golf putting novices.  Poster presented at the 10th Annual Meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Las Vegas, NV.