The competitive reaction time task: the development and scientific utility of a flexible laboratory aggression paradigm

Wayne A. Warburton*, Brad J. Bushman

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalComment/opinionpeer-review

    17 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Laboratory measures play an important role in the study of aggression because they allow researchers to make causal inferences. However, these measures have also been criticized. In particular, the competitive reaction time task (CRTT) has been criticized for allowing aggression to be operationalized in multiple ways, leaving it susceptible to “p-hacking.” This article describes the development of the CRTT and the ways in which its paradigm flexibility and analytic flexibility allows it to test a wide range of hypotheses and research questions. This flexibility gives the CRTT significant scientific utility, but as with any research paradigm, comes with the obligation that it has to be used with integrity. Although safeguards exist and there is little evidence of misuse, study preregistration can increase confidence in CRTT findings. The importance of findings such as those of Hyatt et al. (in press), which provide further evidence for the validity of the CRTT, are also noted.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)389-396
    Number of pages8
    JournalAggressive Behavior
    Volume45
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019

    Keywords

    • aggression
    • analytic flexibility
    • competitive reaction-time task
    • laboratory measures
    • noise blast

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