Richie Lenne BITSS CatalystSocial Psychology

Richie Lenne is a PhD student in social psychology at University of Minnesota. His research focuses on processes of behavior change—how people make and sustain desired changes. Behaviors such as eating and physical activity underlie the chronic diseases that strain our nation’s medical system and economy. As such, interventions that address preventative behaviors are a top priority. Yet, behavioral medicine primarily focuses on testing the effect of interventions without sufficient focus on the theoretical processes that enable change. He takes a Meehlian (1978) perspective to his research—that subjecting theory to “risky tests” improves usefulness and verisimilitude. Testing theory in the complex social circumstances of our daily lives allows for better specification of the conditions under which theory-based interventions fail or flourish. To this end, Richie strives to embed psychological theory into behavior change interventions (often health-related) with the dual purpose of testing theory and helping people make changes they desire.

Richie is also interested in openness and reproducibility in science, both as a topic of research and as a guiding principle for his own research and teaching. Since starting graduate school he has pre-registered all of his research studies and provided public datasets, analysis scripts, and materials. He redesigned his department’s research methods course to include discussion and practice of transparency, reproducibility, and meta-science. As a part of an international collaboration, undergraduates in his methods class conduct replications of highly cited psychology studies and contribute data to a shared repository for meta-analytic work. He also sits on his department’s open science committee and has organized workshops on reproducibility and preregistration. As a BITSS Catalyst, Richie seeks to further embed principles of transparency and reproducibility into my research, teaching, and departmental practices.