Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Nobel Laureate Challenges Psychologists to Clean Up Their Act

Nobel prize-winner Daniel Kahneman has issued a strongly worded call to one group of psychologists to restore the credibility of their field by creating a replication ring to check each others’ results.
Kahneman, a psychologist at Princeton University in New Jersey, addressed his open e-mail to researchers who work on social priming, the study of how subtle cues can unconsciously influence our thoughts or behaviour. For example, volunteers might walk more slowly down a corridor after seeing words related to old age1, or fare better in general-knowledge tests after writing down the attributes of a typical professor. Such tests are widely used in psychology, and Kahneman counts himself as a “general believer” in priming effects. But in his e-mail, seen by Nature, he writes that there is a “train wreck looming” for the field, due to a “storm of doubt” about the robustness of priming results. This scepticism has been fed by failed attempts to replicate classic priming studies, increasing concerns about replicability in psychology more broadly, and the exposure of fraudulent social psychologists such as Diederik Stapel, Dirk Smeesters and Lawrence Sanna, who used priming techniques in their work. more

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