The Importance of Context: Three Corrections to Cordaro, Keltner, Tshering, Wangchuk, and Flynn (2016)

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Abstract

In their recently published article, “The Voice Conveys Emotion in Ten Globalized Cultures and One Remote Village in Bhutan,” Cordaro, Keltner, Tshering, Wangchuk, and Flynn conclude that certain emotion categories are universally recognized by people around the world, barring illness and measurement error. The impact of Cordaro et al.’s article, like that of all empirical studies, is determined not only by its research findings but also by how the research findings are situated. Accuracy in characterizing the scientific context of new findings is as important as maintaining the highest standards for other aspects of the scientific method. In this regard, we point out three areas of concern in Cordaro et al.’s discussion of past research on remote samples, the use of more discovery-oriented (and less confirmatory) experimental methods in past research, and the use of manipulation checks in past research. Ultimately, a study’s contribution to scientific progress is limited when ambiguities and oversights obscure the real value of its findings.

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