Let's play pretend: Towards effective modelling in experimental psycho(patho)logy

Yannick Boddez*, Sara Scheveneels, Pieter Van Dessel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background and objectives: Models are omnipresent in science. We introduce a novel framework to achieve more effective modelling practices in general psychology and experimental psychopathology. Method: We analyze three types of models that are common in psychology: laboratory models, computational models, and cognitive models. We then evaluate two common ways to assess the translational value of models (phenomenological similarity and deep similarity) as well as an arguably underappreciated way (functional similarity). Functional similarity is based on an assessment of whether variables (e.g., the administration of a pharmacological substance) have a similar effect (a) in the model (e.g., in a fear conditioning procedure) and (b) on the real-life target phenomenon (e.g., on real-life anxiety complaints). Conclusions: We argue that the assessment of functional similarity is a powerful tool to assess the translational value of models in the field of experimental psychopathology and beyond.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101809
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • Analogue samples
  • Ecological validity
  • External validity
  • Modelling
  • Models
  • Similarity


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