Răzvan Jurchiș
April 2020

What do you work on?

I study the acqui­si­tion and use of non­con­scious knowl­edge with emo­tion­al rel­e­vance, looking at how uncon­scious­ly learned struc­tures can influ­ence affec­tive eval­u­a­tions of novel stimuli.

What did you do using Gorilla?

Me and my col­leagues inves­ti­gat­ed whether uncon­scious knowl­edge may influ­ence the affec­tive valence of stimuli that we have never encoun­tered before.

We pre­sent­ed par­tic­i­pants with mean­ing­less strings of letters (such as XMVTRM) fol­low­ing one of two pos­si­ble complex rules, called arti­fi­cial gram­mars. The strings from one of the gram­mars (the pos­i­tive grammar) were always paired with pos­i­tive images, while the strings from the other grammar (the neg­a­tive grammar) were always paired with neg­a­tive images. These arti­fi­cial gram­mars are too complex to be detect­ed con­scious­ly, but they are nonethe­less learned, pro­duc­ing mostly uncon­scious knowl­edge (similar to how we learn our native language’s grammar). Thus we expect­ed that par­tic­i­pants will learn the gram­mars and asso­ciate them with the respec­tive emo­tions, while remain­ing unaware of what they have learned. In a sub­se­quent phase we pre­sent­ed par­tic­i­pants with novel strings (i.e., that were not pre­sent­ed before, togeth­er with the images).

What did you find?

We found that par­tic­i­pants eval­u­at­ed the new strings from the pos­i­tive grammar more pos­i­tive­ly that the new strings from the neg­a­tive grammar, even when they had no aware­ness of the grammar-valence asso­ci­a­tion. This means that the uncon­scious knowl­edge of the grammar-valence asso­ci­a­tion influ­enced par­tic­i­pants’ affec­tive evaluations.

To sum up, we found that non­con­scious­ly learned struc­tures can influ­ence affec­tive eval­u­a­tions of novel stimuli.

Has this study been published?

The study has been pub­lished in the Journal of Exper­i­men­tal Psy­chol­o­gy here.

You can view a free full text version here

Why did you choose Gorilla?

Because it’s user-friend­ly, easy to learn, and it’s rea­son­ably priced! I am able to collect large amounts of data in a short time, with reduced effort.

How do you think online research is going to change your field?

It will increase the sample sizes used in studies, which, hope­ful­ly, will con­tribute to an increase in the number of replic­a­ble results.

“I am able to collect large amounts of data in a short time, with reduced effort.”

What advice would you give to someone start­ing out in behav­iour­al science/research?

Find a context where you can pursue your intrin­sic inter­ests, with as much freedom as pos­si­ble, and pre­serve your intel­lec­tu­al integrity.

What do you believe to be true that you cannot prove (yet)?

“I believe that non­con­scious knowl­edge plays a much greater role in our daily behav­iour that we think it does.”

The “problem” is that it may be the case that this uncon­scious knowl­edge is often masked by con­scious knowl­edge. For instance, when we speak, we often use gram­mat­i­cal rules that we have learned uncon­scious­ly, but we are also capable to retrieve or to make-up some con­scious rule. Thus, we might assume that the con­scious­ly retrieved or made-up rule is the one that has influ­enced our utter­ance, when it actu­al­ly has been based on an uncon­scious rule. But this “double coding” (uncon­scious and con­scious) hypoth­e­sis is dif­fi­cult to test, because, accord­ing to current cri­te­ria for claim­ing an uncon­scious influ­ence, one has to exclude the pres­ence of any poten­tial­ly rel­e­vant con­scious knowledge.

If you could inter­view any researcher (alive or dead), who would it be and why?

I would actu­al­ly make a joint inter­view, with Gerd Gigeren­z­er and Daniel Kah­ne­man. I would like to have them engage in a dia­logue about the adap­tive func­tions of our intu­itive or non­con­scious mind. Kahneman’s per­spec­tive is seen as quite pes­simistic regard­ing how “smart” our intu­itive mind is, and Gigerenzer’s is seen as more opti­mistic, but my impres­sion is that there is actu­al­ly a lot of unex­plored common ground in their views.

When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing?

Reading (mostly about daily life and thought in antiq­ui­ty; science; the­ol­o­gy), sports (gym, table tennis, foot­ball – depend­ing on the cir­cum­stances), long walks through the forest etc.

What’s your favourite inter­net science meme?

What science book have you read recent­ly that you’d rec­om­mend to others?

The Incerto series, by Nassim Taleb, which com­pris­es five books dealing with the perils and oppor­tu­ni­ties of ran­dom­ness, risk, uncer­tain­ty, and with their ubiq­ui­tous implications.

 

Răzvan Jurchiș
Cognitive psychology (implicit learning, non-conscious knowledge, dual processing); Cognitive-behavior psychotherapy
Post-doctoral researcher
Babeș-Bolyai University, Romania
Picture of razvan jurchis

Ready to get started?

More Spotlight Interviews

Xiao Hu

Xiao Hu

[get-spotlight-info] "I am interested in whether our decision to offload information is related to our evaluations of ability on the task – a form of metacognition.” Continue Reading Xiao Hu

Maša Vujović

Maša Vujović

[get-spotlight-info] "I am interested in whether learners are sensitive to these probabilistic patterns in sound and meaning in the language they are learning, and whether the ability to pick up on these patterns helps learners generalize." Continue Reading Maša Vujović