Developing Constraint in Bayesian Mixed Models

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Model comparison in Bayesian mixed models is becoming popular in psychological science. Here we develop a set of nested models that account for order restrictions across individuals in psychological tasks. An order-restricted model addresses the question “Does everybody,” as in “Does everybody show the usual Stroop effect,” or “Does everybody respond more quickly to intense noises than subtle ones?” The crux of the modeling is the instantiation of 10s or 100s of order restrictions simultaneously, one for each participant. To our knowledge, the problem is intractable in frequentist contexts but relatively straightforward in Bayesian ones. We develop a Bayes factor model-comparison strategy using Zellner and Siow’s default g-priors appropriate for assessing whether effects obey equality and order restrictions. We apply the methodology to seven data sets from Stroop, Simon, and Eriksen interference tasks. Not too surprisingly, we find that everybody Stroops—that is, for all people congruent colors are truly named more quickly than incongruent ones. But, perhaps surprisingly, we find these order constraints are violated for some people in the Simon task, that is, for these people spatially incongruent responses occur truly more quickly than congruent ones! Implications of the modeling and conjectures about the task-related differences are discussed.

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