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Helping some of the top brands in the world achieve their goals is a primary reason many of our consultants choose to join and remain part of the Perficient team. Over the past few years Perficient has worked closely with Volkswagen and Audi to streamline the process by which dealers can order vehicles from corporate. Joe Andretta, a lead visual designer with Perficient, sat down to share some experiences he’s had being a part of the project team.
A recent article in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences(PNAS) claims to explore genomic aspects of the pursuit of meaning versus happiness. The terms hedonism and eudaimonism bring to mind the great philosophical debate, which has shaped Western civilization for over 2,000 years, about the nature of the good life.
People who are happy but have little-to-no sense of meaning in their lives have the same gene expression patterns as people who are enduring chronic adversity. If, as an Academic Editor for PLOS One I had received this article as a manuscript, I would probably have recommended Rejection without sending it out for further review. Primary analyses examined the relationships of hedonic and eudaimonic well-being to expression of a 53-gene contrast score summarizing three a priori-defined components of the CTRA profile (12, 33–35): up-regulated expression of proinflammatory genes, down-regulated expression of genes mediating type I IFN responses, and down-regulated expression of genes involved in antibody synthesis. I doubt that many people who have an opinion about the article have actually read it in its entirety. In the case of this article, the validity of sophisticated methodologies, analyses, and interpretations depend entirely on some distinctions being captured in self-report assessments of hedonic versus eudaimonic well-being with the Short Flourishing Scale. This correlation is as high as the reliability of these two subscales allows, meaning they are essentially interchangeable and measure the same thing. But given the close association between the two variables, what is portrayed in the multivariate analyses, eudaimonic-well-being-controlling-for-hedonic-well-being-and-many-other-things is very different than eudaimonic well-being without such controls. Statistical adjustment by an excessive number of variables or parameters, uninformed by substantive knowledge (e.g. Faced with such highly correlated measures of the crucial variables of hedonic versus eudaimonic well-being, what could the investigators possibly have done to remedy matters and proceed?
When I encounter such high correlations, I look to the items that went into the construction of scales, deliberately ignoring the labeling of the scales. These questions are odd, vague, and unlikely to be encountered in everyday life unless someone happens to be Barack Obama or Bill Gates.
Distorted press coverage can often be traced to distorted abstracts, and so I always recommend that skeptical readers compare press coverage to the abstracts of scientific articles. Hedonic and eudaimonic well-being showed similar affective correlates but highly divergent transcriptome profiles.
I am extremely doubtful that with transcriptome profiles of hedonic and eudaimonic well-being would be that different if statistical controls had not been applied. In a recent posting at my other blog, I cited John Ioannidis to suggest that hot areas like genomics tend to bring lowered standards, false discoveries, and exaggerations and very little real advancement of science. All views that Professor Coyne expresses are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of PLOS or other institutional affiliations. I spent some time in the analytical supplement because the PNAS format doesn’t require as much in the methods as I like to read. While you are able to run linear regression models on any continuous variable you may not always want to.
An important thing to note in this study is that bioinformatic approaches are different from classical statistical approaches in the questions they can ask and answer and this paper is based on the former.
Graduate studies are lengthy, time consuming, financially draining and require serious dedication. As I mentioned, I am in the last year of completing my graduate degree and I learned a great deal through my experiences thus far. There are an abundance of questions one can ask themselves when venturing into the world of grad school and these are just a few suggestions to get you thinking more deeply. One of the parts of the project he enjoyed the most was being a part of the user testing with the dealers.
He pointed out that the scope of this project has allowed him to focus on a singular endeavor instead of focusing on multiple projects at a time. Our team members share how they've grown their careers, enjoyed work-life balance, made an impact in the community, and delivered innovative solutions for high-profile clients. The considerable press coverage the article generated accepted it provided a scientific basis for resolving a classical philosophical question: should we pursue meaning ( termed “eudaimonism”) in our lives or happiness (“hedonism”)? Does happiness lie in feeling good, as hedonists think, or in doing and being good, as Aristotle and his intellectual descendants, the virtue ethicists, think?



But if I had sent the manuscript out for review, I would have chosen at least some reviewers with relevant psychometric backgrounds.  I would be disappointed if they did not immediately notice some fatal flaws hiding in plain sight.
But with such a formidably complex article making such strong claims, it is all the more important to start with checking basic statistics and measurement issues. Except for by random variance, that finding is highly unlikely that something will be related to one variable and not the other.
If we were talking about people, we probably couldn’t even recognize a family resemblance between the two. Any divergent associations with genomic transcriptome profiles are likely to be artificial and not replicated in future studies. I’m sure that if investigators had done a cognitive interview, it would’ve revealed that respondents struggle with trying to find answers and the basis of the answers vary widely from responded to respond. Over centuries, lots of people have offered advice about whether we should pursue meaning or happiness.
I know well that the abstracts too are often distorted, but it is sort of a rule-out assessment. The two scales had similar correlates with self-report measures, but widely different profiles associated with them. The correlates of Hedonic and eudaimonic well-being were examined at the simple bivariate level and their association with transcriptome profiles was examined in dubious multivariate analyses. Check out the NeuroSkeptic’s straight-shooting coverage of the debunking of that, as well as his call for a retraction. This application of genomics to philosophical questions about how we should lead our life certainly seems to fit the bill.
Coyne, PhD is Professor of Health Psychology at University Medical Center, Groningen, the Netherlands where he teaches scientific writing and critical thinking. Coyne is Emeritus Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry, where he was also Director of Behavioral Oncology, Abramson Cancer Center and Senior Fellow Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics.
Fredrickson et al acknowledge statistical power as an issue but do not provide us with the initial power calculations on which they based their sample size. They just don’t talk in the stilted, phony manner the positive psychology gurus seem to assume that everybody talks.
It looks like the whole study has unraveled due to ignored problems in the assessment of hedonic (H) and eudaimonic (E) happiness by self-report. It can be one of the most challenging and concurrently, rewarding experiences you can ever undergo.
Consequently, it is important to ask yourself the right questions before embarking on this extended journey. Here are a few suggestions and questions to help guide you through your thoughts and something concrete to refer to that can help you reflect on whether this is the right path for your future.
This is an important factor to consider and often overlooked – are you looking to improve your professional life or perhaps go into the realm of academia. As a teacher, I see education as field that will be beneficial to you no matter what your purpose for attaining it is. Neither the content of these blogs, nor the links to other web sites, are screened, approved, reviewed or endorsed by McGill University. Shared similarities were removed, so one would not be recognizable from a photo of the other. They will undoubtedly continue to do so, but let’s have no illusions that Barbara Fredrickson’s study can do anything to settle the issue. If the press coverage does not fit with what is said in the abstract, it could be that the journalist is making something up. It is quite statistically improbable that to self-report variable so highly correlated could have distinctive different profiles. He is also Visiting Professor, Institute for Health, Health Care Policy & Aging Research, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
He has served as External Scientific Advisor to a decade of European Commission funded community based programs to improve care for depression in the community.
Looks like results were driven by a few outliers but, regardless, difficulties with the self-report measures strongly indicate more complicated analyses should have been abandoned before they were attempted.
For some, grad school is an event that has been planned way ahead of time, and for others it is something you just find yourself falling into in between that period of graduation and finding your career.
Are you extremely passionate about your desired field, are you longing to reach a goal that will only be possible by earning this degree or are you looking for more compensation at your current job, or even a career change?


Conversely, it wouldn’t be a good idea to begin something that you are not fully prepared for and that is why it is crucial to do your research and speak to professionals like advisors and program directors before making your final choice. The text and other material on these blogs are the opinion of the specific author and are not statements of advice, opinion, or information of McGill. Think of the aliens invading Earth in the War of the Worlds being brought down by common microbes.
And what ever solid biomedical science was done, it is sustained or falls on an empirically indefensible distinction derived from poor assessment of what people have to say about themselves on the Internet. On the other hand if the two seem to fit, we might have to proceed to the laborious process of checking the abstract against what is said in the rest of the paper. A huge market has been generated by people desperately searching in self-help books for answers that religion once provided. He has written over 350 articles and chapters, including systematic reviews of screening for distress and depression in medical settings and classic articles about stress and coping, couples research, and interpersonal aspects of depression. I would be very interested to see these calculation because I would personally have no idea where to look, for instance, for the effect size estimates given the outcome. I wonder whether those five or six who scored around 1 got ticket before getting to the experimental lab, flunked an exam on the previous day or were joking with the analyst.
While everyone has their own reasons for applying and completing a graduate degree, going into the program for the right reasons is a major factor to consider. These are all important aspects to consider before even beginning an application for a master’s program. Many graduate programs require two full time years of work experience; perhaps this is something you’re lacking.
For one, I am in a program that is designed to train teachers on how to become school leaders and principals. I highly recommend graduate studies to anyone who is looking to maximize their knowledge in a field they are passionate about and open doors to novel career opportunities in their desired field of study. In the words of Carl Jung, “The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it.” Jung’s wisdom certainly seems to apply to our bodies, if not also to our hearts and our minds. And maybe we can establish that exaggerated coverage in the press is churnaled from a quick read of the abstract. I wouldn’t be surprised if the contract for another self-help book has been signed already. He has been designated by ISI Web of Science as one of the most impactful psychologists and psychiatrists in the world. These models were run to calculate point estimates for later use and not for probability testing but establishing that your linear regression model is valid means that the point estimates the authors use later can be seen as valid. I realize that this is an easy critique because the study is asking a new and interesting question where there is little existing literature. Moreover, given such high correlation between two data sets, their experimental results are from only a small subset of persons.
If so, do you have new obligations that have presented themselves in your life that may be distracting to your educational success?
Initially, I thought the program would be more practical; however, on the contrary, it is very theoretical.
Still a power analysis plot across varying levels of effect size, accounting for the analytical methods and covariates would be very informative for the reader. Do your research on the program and try to ask current students or those who have graduated about their thoughts on the program at hand.
But this is not a meaningful exercise for another reason: there are too many variables being controlled with too few research participants. He also blogs and is a regular contributor to the blog Science Based Medicine and to the PLOS One Blog, Mind the Brain. Think about the near and distant future that you are planning to build for yourself and if your goals along with your potential graduate program are aligned. He is known for giving lively, controversial lectures using scientific evidence to challenge assumptions about the optimal way of providing psychosocial care and care for depression to medical patients.



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