(p. A1) The past several years have been bruising ones for the credibility of the social sciences. A star social psychologist was caught fabricating data, leading to more than 50 retracted papers. A top journal published a study supporting the existence of ESP that was widely criticized. The journal Science pulled a political science paper on the effect of gay canvassers on voters’ behavior because of concerns about faked data.
Now, a painstaking yearslong effort to reproduce 100 studies published in three leading psychology journals has found that more than half of the findings did not hold up when retested. The analysis was done by research psychologists, many of whom volunteered their time to double-check what they considered important work. Their conclusions, reported Thursday [August 27, 2015] in the journal Science, have confirmed the worst fears of scientists who have long worried that the field needed a strong correction.
The vetted studies were considered part of the core knowledge by which scientists understand the dynamics of personality, relationships, learning and memory. Therapists and educators rely on such findings to help guide decisions, and the fact that so many of the studies were called into question could sow doubt in the scientific underpinnings of their work.
For the full story, see:
BENEDICT CAREY. “Psychology’s Fears Confirmed: Rechecked Studies Don’t Hold Up.” The New York Times (Fri., AUG. 28, 2015): A1 & A13.
(Note: bracketed date added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date AUG. 27, 2015 and has the title “Many Psychology Findings Not as Strong as Claimed, Study Says.”)
The Science article reporting the large number of psychology articles that proved unreplicable, is:
Open Science Collaboration. “Estimating the Reproducibility of Psychological Science.” Science 349, no. 6251 (Aug. 28, 2015): 943.