Predicting Presidential Elections from Ale to Zinfandel

What variables do you need to consider to accurately predict the outcome of a U.S. presidential election?

The current state of the economy?

International affairs and the threat of terrorism?

The specific plans and policies proposed by each presidential candidate and how well each plan resonates with likely voters?

The amount of money raised by each campaign?

Surely each of these factors, among many others, is an important predictor of who will go on to win the Presidency.

But how about another, perhaps less obvious, variable.

As ridiculous as it might sound, one might be able to predict the winner in a U.S. presidential election based solely on the amount of alcohol people in each state consume.

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Analyzing Analysis of Variance: Violation of Assumptions

Analysis of variance (ANOVA) is a widely used statistical test in the behavioral and social sciences.

In a nutshell, ANOVA is used to evaluate differences between (at least) three group means to determine whether there is a “statistically significant” difference somewhere among them (i.e., a difference that is unlikely due to chance factors).

ANOVA is commonly used in conjunction with an experimental research design, in which a researcher randomly assigns participants to one of several groups and tests to see whether an experimental treatment variable leads to group differences on a given dependent measure.

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Do Four-Year Colleges & Universities Increase Migration to a Region?

This is the first in a new series of posts exploring assumptions behind various statistical tests and measures, with a focus on understanding what happens when those assumptions are violated.

In this first post, I’ll take a look at the use of Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) to statistically “control for” and “remove” the effects of an extraneous, third variable from a general linear model that describes the relationship between a dichotomous predictor variable and a continuous dependent measure.

Specifically, I’ll take a look at the appropriateness of using ANCOVA to help answer the following question:

Are people more likely to relocate to a new town or city if there is a four-year college or university within the same county?

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Why are College Students More Stressed Today than Ever?

In my last post, I used data from the American Time Use Survey to compare the daily activities of American college students, high school students, and non-students. And as we saw, the data suggest that full-time college students generally lead a lifestyle that is more “balanced” between obligations and personal pleasures (a bad thing, assuming it’s preferable to have a less balanced lifestyle, where you devote more time to things you want to do than to things you feel you have to do).

Although, in general, more people devote time to things they want to do (e.g., socializing, leisure, and personal care) than to things they might feel they have to do (e.g., work and education), the percentage of people spending time on things they have to do is higher among college students (39.96%) than among non-students (36.93%) and high school students (34.55%).

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A Day in the Life of a College Student

It is of course cliche to point out that the average college student leads a busy life, having to balance academics, extra-curricular activities, personal commitments, and perhaps even a full-time job and family.

But factor in the burden of student debt and the difficulties of finding a good job in today’s post-recession job market and surely this should be enough to convince almost anyone that the current generation of college students is under considerable stress.

Importantly though, the challenges facing many of today’s students go far beyond mere stress. In fact, based on findings from some recent reports and surveys, American colleges and universities might well be facing a serious mental health crisis among their student bodies.

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What are the Chances of Becoming a Psychology Professor?

In a recent follow-up to this post, I estimate the chances of landing an academic job in Psychology based on 21 years’ worth of data from the NSF Survey of Earned Doctorates. Check it out here.

In my last post, I presented some data from the U.S. Department of Education on the number of people that graduate each year with a doctoral degree in various areas of psychology. And as we saw, most areas of psychology have undergone considerable growth in the last decade, graduating on average 39.82% more doctoral students in 2013 than in 2003.

In this post, I’m going to delve deeper into the current state of the field by taking a look at the availability of jobs in psychology – specifically, tenure-track faculty positions at colleges and universities.

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Is Facebook Controlling your Mood?

If you pay attention to news about science or social media, then chances are you’ve already heard about how back in 2012 Facebook carried out a giant psychological experiment on hundreds of thousands of its users without informing them.

The goal of the experiment was to learn more about how a person’s mood is affected by the types of posts they see in their News Feed. And so for one week, Facebook subtly manipulated what appeared in users’ News Feeds and then analyzed the emotional tone of those users’ subsequent status updates.

Needless to say, public furor ensued.

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