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Studying psycholinguistics out of the lab

Speed, L. J., Wnuk, E., & Majid, A. (2018). Studying psycholinguistics out of the lab. In A. De Groot, & P. Hagoort (Eds.), Research methods in psycholinguistics and the neurobiology of language: A practical guide (pp. 190-207). Hoboken: Wiley.
Traditional psycholinguistic studies take place in controlled experimental labs and typically involve testing undergraduate psychology or linguistics students. Investigating psycholinguistics in this manner calls into question the external validity of findings, that is, the extent to which research findings generalize across languages and cultures, as well as ecologically valid settings. Here we consider three ways in which psycholinguistics can be taken out of the lab. First, researchers can conduct cross-cultural fieldwork in diverse languages and cultures. Second, they can conduct online experiments or experiments in institutionalized public spaces (e.g., museums) to obtain large, diverse participant samples. And, third, researchers can perform studies in more ecologically valid settings, to increase the real-world generalizability of findings. By moving away from the traditional lab setting, psycholinguists can enrich their understanding of language use in all its rich and diverse contexts.
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The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

The institute is situated on the campus of the Radboud University. We participate in the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, and have particularly close ties to that institute's Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging. We also participate in the Centre for Language Studies. A joint graduate school, the IMPRS in Language Sciences, links the Donders Institute, the CLS and the MPI.

 

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