Members in the Media
From: The Atlantic

Psychology’s Replication Crisis Is Running Out of Excuses

Over the past few years, an international team of almost 200 psychologists has been trying to repeat a set of previously published experiments from its field, to see if it can get the same results. Despite its best efforts, the project, called Many Labs 2, has only succeeded in 14 out of 28 cases. Six years ago, that might have been shocking. Now it comes as expected (if still somewhat disturbing) news.

In recent years, it has become painfully clear that psychology is facing a “reproducibility crisis,” in which even famous, long-established phenomena—the stuff of textbooks and TED Talks—might not be real. There’s social priming, where subliminal exposures can influence our behavior. And ego depletion, the idea that we have a limited supply of willpower that can be exhausted. And the facial-feedback hypothesis, which simply says that smiling makes us feel happier.

One by one, researchers have tried to repeat the classic experiments behind these well-known effects—and failed. And whenever psychologists undertake large projects, like Many Labs 2, in which they replicate past experiments en masse, they typically succeed, on average, half of the time.

Ironically enough, it seems that one of the most reliable findings in psychology is that only half of psychological studies can be successfully repeated.

That failure rate is especially galling, says Simine Vazire from the University of California at Davis, because the Many Labs 2 teams tried to replicate studies that had made a big splash and been highly cited. Psychologists “should admit we haven’t been producing results that are as robust as we’d hoped, or as we’d been advertising them to be in the media or to policy makers,” she says. “That might risk undermining our credibility in the short run, but denying this problem in the face of such strong evidence will do more damage in the long run.”

Read the whole story (subscription may be required): The Atlantic

More of our Members in the Media >


This emphasizes PRECISELY the reason that I’ve been trying to give to explain just WHY Psychology is NOT truly a scientific field: true science does not have a replication problem, but Psychology does!

which means only physics, chemistry and hard sciences count as science. Not economics, sociology etc.I guess perhaps the answer is to return to the humanities and realize that all truth is not scientific.

I guess Biomedicine isn’t a science either since they are facing a bigger replication problem than psychology. I think it is dangerous to use replication as a measure of what is or isn’t science. A reproducibility problem should be tackled as that problem rather than attacking an entire field’s legitimacy.

Replicability is a foundational concept in science, or else you are just rationalists constructing castles in the sky or circles within circles.(see the history of physics)

Trying to rationalize this away undermines your ability to see the issue, and, the issue is peer review,publish or die, tenure and government involvement in science.

APS regularly opens certain online articles for discussion on our website. Effective February 2021, you must be a logged-in APS member to post comments. By posting a comment, you agree to our Community Guidelines and the display of your profile information, including your name and affiliation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations present in article comments are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of APS or the article’s author. For more information, please see our Community Guidelines.

Please login with your APS account to comment.