Reflection on "Trial and Error (-Related Negativity)"

Maarten Derksen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


‘Trial and Error (-related negativity)’ is a fascinating paper detailing the attempt to develop a new experimental paradigm to study the role of error-related negativity in the development of avoidance behavior. In my comments on this paper I will focus on the interaction between experimenters and participants as the former investigate various ways of designing the experiment, aiming to elicit the right kind of behavior from the participants. As in many psychological experiments, there is a fundamental tension here that experimenters must find a way to deal with: they must guide the subject to the proper performance, without the subject responding to the guidance as such. The performance must be natural, but within tight constraints. Recalcitrance or resistance of the subject must be prevented. Ultimately, the authors of ‘Trial and Error (-related negativity)’ failed in their attempt to do this. Their reflections on their failure are thorough and illuminating, but I will argue that they can be pushed slightly further.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Trial and Error
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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