Using Inhibition of Return to Illustrate the Psychological Scientist’s Challenge to Avoid Unreality and Uncontrol
Raymond M. Klein & Matthew D. Hilchey
Dalhousie University

The task of reducing human thought and behavior "to a mechanical process of cause and effect" is, according to Hebb, the most difficult task in science. One reason is the conflict between the goals to achieve a useful degree of ecological validity AND to control irrelevant variables and make precise measurements. Like the sailor in Greek mythology, who must navigate between two terrible hazards, Scylla and Charybdis, the psychological scientist must navigate between uncontrol and unreality. Research on inhibition of return will be used to illustrate these hazards and to provide some guidance for safe and fruitful navigation between them.