Chess databases as a research vehicle in psychology: Modeling large data.
Vaci N., Bilalić M.
The game of chess has often been used for psychological investigations, particularly in cognitive science. The clear-cut rules and well-defined environment of chess provide a model for investigations of basic cognitive processes, such as perception, memory, and problem solving, while the precise rating system for the measurement of skill has enabled investigations of individual differences and expertise-related effects. In the present study, we focus on another appealing feature of chess-namely, the large archive databases associated with the game. The German national chess database presented in this study represents a fruitful ground for the investigation of multiple longitudinal research questions, since it collects the data of over 130,000 players and spans over 25 years. The German chess database collects the data of all players, including hobby players, and all tournaments played. This results in a rich and complete collection of the skill, age, and activity of the whole population of chess players in Germany. The database therefore complements the commonly used expertise approach in cognitive science by opening up new possibilities for the investigation of multiple factors that underlie expertise and skill acquisition. Since large datasets are not common in psychology, their introduction also raises the question of optimal and efficient statistical analysis. We offer the database for download and illustrate how it can be used by providing concrete examples and a step-by-step tutorial using different statistical analyses on a range of topics, including skill development over the lifetime, birth cohort effects, effects of activity and inactivity on skill, and gender differences.